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Satellite Fever: MotoGP Qualifying Notes

MotoGP continued its 2013 trend of giving us spectacular qualifying sessions. The satellite teams rocked Brno as Cal Crutchlow took pole, followed closely by Alvaro Bautista. Marc Marquez had to make do with a 3rd spot on the grid.

By Chitra Subramanyam

Them satellites are really moving out of their orbit. I know I sound like a smartass when I say this, but you have to admit, it’s rather apt. Keeping pace with the factory teams is one thing, moving past them, and becoming hardcore competition, is a different ballgame altogether. Am I mixing too many metaphors? Apologies, but I have been a tad giggly ever since Qualifying this evening.

It’s a new one for me. I do get grumpy and crabby when I see Valentino Rossi way down on the grid. But today, the Qualifying spree at Brno was mouthwatering and delicious.

It’s best to keep these things short and simple. So I am going to get right down to business.

Brilliant Alvaro Bautista. Image courtesy GO & FUN Honda Gresini (Editorial use only)

Brilliant Alvaro Bautista. Image courtesy GO & FUN Honda Gresini (For editorial use only)

Brilliant Bautista gave us a pleasant surprise. He was on pace, fast and smooth, and he didn’t come in anyone’s way. Do I hear a lot of heartfelt phews? Jokes aside, he was right up there, when Q2 started. Alvaro Bautista went fast, faster than Marc Marquez, faster than Jorge Lorenzo and faster than everyone else…at least before he went into the pits. He had broken Lorenzo’s record and was leading the time charts. He took 2nd place for the race tomorrow. He later said, “It was good fun, and now I am just hoping to get a good start and run at the front for as long as possible. I felt great on the bike today, so hopefully, we can have a similar feeling with it tomorrow, and keep the pace when the tyres drop off.”

Angry Cal = Pole-sitter Hone Badger. Isn't it? Image courtesy Yamaha Racing Team (Editorial use only)

Angry Cal = Pole-sitter Honey Badger. What do you think? Image courtesy Bridgestone (Editorial use only)

The Honey Badger was mad, as in angry mad, if you had any doubts. He came in to change tyres halfway through Q2 looking grumpy. His just-rolled-out-of-bed hair didn’t help matters. As an aside though (and a girl runs this blog, so this comment is justified), that hairstyle is adorable and sexy. Makes me go meowwwrrr. Back to business, as I was saying, Cal Crutchlow was angry. Bautista was at the top of the charts. How dare he?

There were just a few minutes left on the time board. The Indianapolis wounds were still fresh. So, Crutchlow hunkered down to give us a lap of our lifetime. He was on the move, plunging into corners and pushing hard. The others leapt out of the way and Crutchlow crossed the line with an amazing time of 1.55.527, nudging Bautista off the pole position. I went phew! Just as, I would imagine, his team back in the pits. This makes it the second pole in five races. Also, pole record, if you please. He beat Jorge Lorenzo’s 2012 time of 1.55.799.

Making peace with the Qualifying results? Or plotting his race moves? Do not take Marc Marquez for granted! Image courtesy Repsol Honda team (For editorial use only)

Making peace with the Qualifying results? Or plotting his race moves? Do not take Marc Marquez for granted! Image courtesy Repsol Honda team (For editorial use only)

Marc Marquez was in for a shock with the flying satellites playing master. He tried hard, and then he tried harder. But Bautista and Crutchlow were just too fast, too determined. The young Spaniard has to be content with a 1.55.863s and a 3rd for the race tomorrow. He said in a team release, “I’m not entirely happy because I had the confidence and determination to fight for pole! I could not take advantage of the second tyre because there was a lot of traffic and some riders were waiting for a tow.”

Of course, then came that classic Marquez line… you know the one that can leave even hardcore fans giggling, “But it is what it is – one day I will look to follow them, another day, it will be the opposite!”

Teammate Dani Pedrosa though has to made do with a 4th position on the grid. Setup issues he called it. He is going to have a hard time getting past Marquez, don’t you think?

Eek. What happened to the Yamahas at Qualifying? But hey, it's Vale. No way are we going to rule him out. Image courtesy Yamaha Racing Team (For editorial use only)

Eek. What happened to the Yamahas at Qualifying? But hey, it’s Vale. No way are we going to rule him out. Image courtesy Yamaha Racing Team (For editorial use only)

The Yamahas though are probably busy trying to understand what went wrong, because things went really wrong. Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi were in form on Friday. But qualifying dawned and led to total dismay. They were just off-pace. Lorenzo, 5th on the grid after clocking a 1.55.949 (you can stop gaping now), said, “We had so much spinning and we went slow.” Vale’s pace was worse (His qualifying record is never really good, is it?). He took 7th place for the race with 1.56.186 and was unhappy. He said in a team release, “…7th position is my worst position of the weekend, and it was qualifying. I improved my lap time, but the other guys were faster.”

A loud hurrah for Colin Edwards! He is 12th on the grid and was the fastest CRT. You gotta love Texas Tornado’s smile, eh?

A shout-out to Ben Spies, who is recovering from surgery on both his shoulders. I am still trying to understand why Spies is so damned unlucky. He will not be back at the MotoGP paddock for a while.

On to Race Day tomorrow. We all know we should not rule out the stalwarts! Here’s to a brilliant, but safe race.

Image courtesy Yamaha Racing Team (For editorial use only)

Image courtesy Yamaha Racing Team (For editorial use only)

The Grid As We See It!

1 Cal Crutchlow

2 Alvaro Bautista

3 Marc Marquez

4 Dani Pedrosa

5 Jorge Lorenzo

6 Bradley Smith

7 Valentino Rossi

8 Stefan Bradl

9 Andrea Dovizioso

10 Nicky Hayden

11 Andrea Iannone

12 Colin Edwards

Picture Perfect: Qualifying at Brno

Cal Crutchlow could not be outpaced at Qualifying in Brno! Image courtesy Yamaha Racing Team (For editorial use only)

Cal Crutchlow could not be outpaced at Qualifying in Brno! Image courtesy Yamaha Racing Team (For editorial use only)

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3 Responses

  1. A wonderfully different podium! Nice tow work from Bautista! Still have high hopes for Rossi still if it rains! Nice round-up!

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  1. Rookie Attack: The Brno Race Highlights | Riding Fast and Flying Low
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