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Tyres. The Sun. And a Little Celebration: MotoGP Qualifying in Jerez

Wait. What? You were saying? Oh come on, don’t mutter. I know you were hoping for a different result. Anyone but Marc Marquez, isn’t it? I know.

After all, Friday did end with such hopes, especially after Aleix Espargaro’s phenomenal, nippy time – 1’39.357s around Jerez. Even Marquez couldn’t beat that time.

But it wasn’t to be. The much-awaited first race on MotoGP’s European leg of tour began with some pretty interesting news, which is probably an understatement.

Bridgestone, the official tyre supplier to MotoGP, which has been around the Paddock since 2009, announced that they would withdraw from their role after the 2015 season. Wonder who will take their place? Well, Dorna has said that we will find out soon enough.

Marc Marquez, breaking records, setting records and racing to glory! Image courtesy Repsol Honda team (editorial use only)

Marc Marquez, breaking records, setting records and racing! Image courtesy Repsol Honda team (editorial use only)

And so it was that the warriors enter the Jerez battlefield, reliving the memories of last year’s race. I mean, was that fabulous or what? The young usurper Marquez battling out with the then-defending world champion Jorge Lorenzo, the “touch” and go affair! Fantastic.

Marquez was celebrating 100 Grand Prix starts. Jorge Lorenzo was going to celebrate 200 Grand Prix starts and turning 27. And it was surprisingly hot in Jerez with track temperatures touching 50°C during Qualifying.

Not that it stopped a determined Lorenzo, who headed out on to the track and stayed out, and on top of the time sheets. It was an unchallenged 1’38.541s that made us wonder (just a tad) whether Marquez would finally have a little competition in Qualifying.

A determined Jorge Lorenzo topped the time sheets initially, but had to be content with a 2nd place on the grid. Image courtesy Yamaha Racing (editorial use only)

A determined Jorge Lorenzo topped the time sheets initially, but had to be content with a 2nd place on the grid. Image courtesy Yamaha Racing (editorial use only)

We should have known eh? That young world champion headed out on to the track, a second bike waiting for him all ready in the garage, and set about ruffling the time sheets. Lorenzo stayed unchallenged. But Marquez had a different strategy in place. A Repsol Honda press release states that, “Marc and his team calculated that a three-stop run would be possible during the 15-minute session, which was important as the life of the soft rear tyre is optimum for only one flying lap – especially with track temperatures in the 50s.”

So, Marquez recorded a single flying lap on each exit. Then, on his last run, just before time ran out, he went and broke Lorenzo’s 2008 lap record of 1’38.189s. He then went and set the fastest ever lap on two wheels in Jerez with 1’38.120s. “I am very happy with this pole position, as it was hard fought and I wasn’t expecting it,” Marquez later said in a team press release.

Valentino Rossi made a brilliant start but was unable to get a first row position. He will start 4th from the grid. Image courtesy Yamaha Racing (editorial use only)

Valentino Rossi made a brilliant start but was unable to get a first row position. He will start 4th from the grid. Image courtesy Yamaha Racing (editorial use only)

Meanwhile Valentino Rossi was having a slightly tougher time. Qualifying began in an auspicious manner, with his first flying lap giving him the 2nd place on the grid. But then, his pace dropped and Rossi pitted to change tyres. He took back the 3rd spot with 3 minutes left for Qualifying, until Dani Pedrosa went and snatched it from him.

Colin Edwards shined through FP3 and will start the race from 11th on the grid. Image courtesy NGM Forward Team (editorial use only)

Colin Edwards shined through FP3 and will start the race from 11th on the grid. Image courtesy NGM Forward Team (editorial use only)

Despite a superb beginning for Aleix Espargaro, Qualifying wasn’t very successful, with the young NGM Forward Racing rider crashing out during Q2. Despite that, he will start the race from 5th on the grid. Meanwhile, teammate Colin Edwards had a brilliant FP3 when he finished 5th with a fantastic 1’39.200s. He was unable to replicate the result during Qualifying, but will still start the race from 11th on the grid.

Nicky Hayden managed a solid 12th during Qualifying. Image courtesy DRIVE M7 Aspar team (editorial use only)

Nicky Hayden managed a solid 12th during Qualifying. Image courtesy DRIVE M7 Aspar team (editorial use only)

Nicky Hayden had a good Qualifying as well. He moved into Q2 after a successful Q1, and will start 12th on the grid.

Hey Cal! Image courtesy Ducati (for editorial use only)

Hey Cal! Image courtesy Ducati (for editorial use only)

Meanwhile, we all said hello to Cal Crutchlow, back after his surgery. He was in pain, it was obvious, but he continued to race. He will start 14th on the grid.

 

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