Marc Marquez’s perfect qualifying streak is over, as his Repsol Honda teammate, Dani Pedrosa, claims pole position for the Catalunya GP. Pedrosa heads an all-Spanish front row, followed by factory Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo and Marquez.
Pedrosa’s pole position is his first since since last year’s Catalunya GP, a race where the HRC rider placed second behind Lorenzo. The Catalunya conditions created unpredictable results in the practice sessions, as the high temperatures challenged tire grip.
"I am very happy to have taken pole position today, in front of my family and the home fans! I am also delighted that, for the first time this year, I felt good on the bike in qualifying,” said Pedrosa. “I'll try and get a good start from pole position tomorrow, I am sure that it will be very hot and we will have to manage the tires well during the race, but we will try to do as well as possible!"
The qualifying results give some hope to the 1-2 starters that the dominating Marquez can be upset on Sunday. The defending champion had enjoyed a streak of seven consecutive pole positions, stretching back into the 2013 season. He is currently undefeated in 2014, and often unchallenged in the six opening Grand Prix of the year. Marquez has also been mistake free in his sophomore MotoGP campaign, but the points leader crashed in the final moments of the Catalunya qualifying session. Marquez was not injured by the fall.
"Today I made the first mistake of the season, so I need to apologize to the team because it was my fault,” said Marquez in Repsol team PR. “The strategy we had set out was coming together perfectly, but when riding with the last tire I braked too late. I knew it was my last attempt, so I tried to go into the corner anyway. That was not the best choice; I should have written off the lap, but these things happen when you are riding at home; you always try to give a little bit extra. We know for tomorrow that there is no more room for improvement on that corner and that we have a good setup with which to fight for the win."
Marquez’s expected rival for the win, and the victor of last year’s Catalunya GP, is Lorenzo. As with the rest of the MotoGP field, the factory Yamaha rider struggled under the heat, but is primed for a battle on Sunday, saying:
“I made a very good lap, I risked a lot, especially in the braking to make it. Finally we made a good setting for this track, it’s hard because with the track and temperatures it’s hard to make the bike stable. Tomorrow we will try to make it even more stable. We hope to remain consistent and strong like in Mugello to fight for the win again.”
Behind the three aliens up front, LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl leads Row 2, followed by Valentino Rossi. The duo are joined on the second row by Friday’s fastest rider, Forward Racing’s Aleix Espargaro.
Andrea Dovizioso proved the fastest Ducati, qualifying seventh. The Italian is followed on the timesheet by Tech 3 Yamaha’s Bradley Smith and Pramac Racing’s Yonny Hernandez. MotoGP rookie Pol Espargaro rounds out the top 10 aboard the second Tech 3 Yamaha.
Further back in the ranks, Cal Crutchlow will start from the fifth row on the second Factory Ducati – the English rider more than a second off the pace of his teammate, Dovizioso. Nicky Hayden starts back in Row 6, as the 2006 MotoGP champ lines up next to his lone compatriot in the premier class, Colin Edwards.
2014 MotoGP Catalunya Qualifying Results:
1. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) 1'40.985
2. Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha) 1'41.100
3. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) 1'41.135
4. Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda) 1'41.220
5. Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha) 1'41.290
6. Aleix Espargaro (Forward Racing) 1'41.308
7. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) 1'41.337
8. Bradley Smith (Tech3 Yamaha) 1'41.491
9. Yonny Hernandez (Pramac Racing) 1'41.671
10 Pol Espargaro (Tech3 Yamaha) 1'41.677
11. Andrea Iannone (Pramac Racing) 1'41.751
12. Alvaro Bautista (Gresini Honda) 1'42.024
13. Cal Crutchlow (Ducati Team) 1'42.578
14. Scott Redding (Gresini Honda) 1'42.730
15. Michele Pirro (Ducati Team) 1'42.955
16. Nicky Hayden (Drive M7 Aspar) 1'43.043
17. Colin Edwards (Forward Racing) 1'43.226
18. Karel Abraham (Cardion AB) 1'43.360
19. Broc Parkes (Paul Bird Motorsport) 1'43.530
20. Hiroshi Aoyama (Drive M7 Aspar) 1'43.564
21. Michael Laverty (Paul Bird Motorsport) 1'43.737
22. Hector Barbera (Avintia Racing) 1'44.115
23. Mike Di Meglio (Avintia Racing) 1'45.012
24. Michel Fabrizio (Octo Iodaracing) 1'46.214
2014 Catalunya MotoGP Photos