By Chitra Subramanyam
Massacred. Obliterated. Devasted. Take you pick, because that’s exactly what happened to the Silverstone lap record. In the end, it was the young rookie Marc Marquez who ruled, taking pole and destroying the previous lap record. Keeping him company on the front row are Jorge Lorenzo and Cal Crutchlow
My favourite Silverstone word so far is Obliterate. It has a definite ring to it. And I was often tempted, as I watched the Qualifying on Saturday, to scream out the word in a very Dalek-like way. OBLITERATE!
Because that is the only way I can describe Qualifying 2. It was not a race. Oh wait, was it? It seemed like one at the rate Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo broke lap times. It could have something to do with the weather. But we aren’t going to discuss something as banal as that.
So Jorge Lorenzo headed out on to the classic Silverstone circuit at the start of the qualifying session. He was aiming was the pole and that was obvious in his pace. Off he came, crossing the line and clocking in a brand-new lap record of 2.01.497. But wait, Marc Marquez was behind and didn’t want to be left out. He nixed Lorenzo’s timing and set his own: 2.01.287. Casey Stoner had set the record in 2011. There you go. I call it poetic justice (Yes, I am not a member the Stoner fan club). Lorenzo though was not going to give up that easy. He shoved Marquez off the timesheets and scored himself a 2.01.217! (I would like to put many exclamation marks here, but I have been told that’s bad writing.) So off they went to change their tyres and then fight for position once again. Lorenzo kills the time sheets with a 2.00.819. I sighed.
Is it over yet? I don’t think my nerves can take any more.
Like that’s going to happen. Marquez just hunkered down and decided to be ruthless. It was stunning lap with a mind-blowing time of 2.00.619. There you go sir, he said, sitting up. Or at least I would like to think so. Going by his grin, I think I was bang on.
He said in a team release, “The lap times were very fast, we managed an incredible lap and Jorge set the bar very high for so. We put in a better hot lap than I had expected; I hadn’t anticipated riding so far! The race will be tough tomorrow, and we will remain very focused, because I think that Jorge is the strongest rival that we have here. We will need to get a good start and see if we can stick with him.”
However, Lorenzo wasn’t very pleased. “It’s not fantastic because we didn’t make pole position,” he said. “I was surprised about the improvement from the pace lap to the qualifying lap. It was a big jump, almost one second and a half. When I saw my lap time on my bike, I thought I made pole position, but when I saw the classification I saw P2 and was disappointed as I put all my effort into the lap, but it wasn’t enough. Race pace is good, but we have to see where the others are tomorrow.” Such a cheery thing, that one.
The surprise of the day was Cal Crutchlow. Come now, you were expecting that. Two terrible, terrible, terrible crashes and he still ends up on the front row! Now THAT is Cal Crutchlow for you. Enough said. (Well, if you want to know more about stiff upper lips and Cal, then go read Lisa Lewis’ post!)
But no such luck for Valentino Rossi. Oh Vale, he is having such a hard time during Qualifying. It’s nasty. He tried really hard. But then, there was that moment when Nicky Hayden was going faster than him in certain sectors; and that moment when Andrea Dovizioso was faster than him. OUCH. But it’s Vale. He held on and clocked in one fast lap after the other. He now starts from the second row. Not the best place, but better than the third row, I say.
Vale later said in a release, “I’m not so happy with the distance from Lorenzo and Marquez, they did a fantastic job, but I’m happy about the second row. It’s very important and better than the third row. My lap time is quite fast but especially I’m quite satisfied with today because we improved the setting of the bike this afternoon and I’m more constant with pace. I can stay with a good pace, which is important for tomorrow. Now we have to try to make another step, I have two or three corners where I’m not so strong and I’m suffering on some bumps. Tomorrow we will try to improve.”
The Top-12 Grid So Far
1 Marc Marquez
2 Jorge Lorenzo
3 Cal Crutchlow
4 Stefan Bradl
5 Dani Pedrosa
6 Valentino Rossi
7 Andrea Dovizioso
8 Alvaro Bautista
9 Nicky Hayden
10 Bradley Smith
11 Colin Edwards
12 Aleix Espargaro