Pol Espargaro was the top KTM rider in MotoGP today as he steamed through Q1 to the all important Q2 session for the top 12 places on the grid.
Espargaro started the weekend brilliantly with third position in the first free practice showing the immediate speed of the KTM RC16 following successful tests and updates throughout the autumn. A little limited with tyre choice, he still qualified eleventh and in amongst very illustrious company, however, Espargaro will not be able to start from that well earned place as he has used an extra engine outside his annual allocation.*
had a good day as he found over a second from yesterday and will thus start seventeenth as his current form flourishes too.
For the fourth time this year there will be three RC16s on the grid as Mika Kallio returns for a wildcard. The Finn, already a winner here on 125cc and 250cc KTMs will start 19th on the grid. Mika will continue to be in KTM colours next year after a new contract was signed in Valencia today. Kallio will also ride as a wildcard in selected Grands Prix during the 2018 season.
*Due to several engine (screamer to big bang changes at Jerez) and chassis updates (Misano and Aragon), Pol Espargaro has had to use a 10th engine this weekend which will mean he will start the final race of the 2017 MotoGP season from the pit lane. In his original allocation of nine engines there are still four with many kilometres remaining on them, but due to the aforementioned chassis updates these engines are physically unable to be installed into the current chassis.
: “I did a good lap today after a good FP4 but I knew I got go to another level in qualifying. I didn't use the harder front until FP4 which is a qualifying tyre for us but we only had one tyre for both sessions so I was at a little bit of a disadvantage in Q2. I reckon I could be third row otherwise. Tomorrow I start from the pit lane but this happens as it's not anyone's mistake just the 'good problem' of development by KTM meaning the existing engines now don't fit our chassis. The first laps will feel like I'm leading as I won't see anyone in front but we know what my rhythm is and I'll battle until the last lap to take some points. I will not give up until the flag.”
Smith: “I feel we made a really good step today as the lap time jump was over a second and then I did a good run on older tyres in FP4 getting faster towards the end of the run. I was a little bit disappointed I didn't nail my qualifying lap as I left maybe 0.1 or 0.2 seconds out there as it would've put me a row further up. A good start tomorrow with good weather after some small refinements and I'm ready to do battle.”
Kallio: “We're faster than year, obviously, and although that step has been made I actually expected to be a little quicker. We've played with all kinds of set ups but the rear grip isn't quite there and we haven't quite found a solution so I'm losing some time into the corner. In the warm up I'll try some big steps to try other things for the race."
Sebastian Risse (Technical Director MotoGP): “Well, first of all looking back to us here last year always makes you smile but when we look at our lap times it's a great result for us. Tyre choice will be very interesting for many riders, but for Pol he has a very special race not due to any problem here but due to our development and progress. Now we finish the second half of the season we are so happy we've finished in the top eleven at every race since Brno. We have been on another level since Brno and we're more than happy about it but we've put a lot of effort to stabilise the situation and not make too much of a step and then lose it. It was a question of keep developing but not lose this pace and know what you have already. Now over the winter we want to make another step, but before then we must finish the season.”
Following their stellar 1-2 finishes at Philip Island and Malaysia, the Red Bull KTM Ajo Moto2 team has qualified both KTM Moto2
motorcycles on the second row for the finale of 2017. For Miguel Oliveira
, today has meant he has qualified inside the top ten at 17 out of the 18 races in 2017 that is a huge achievement for a motorcycle in its first ever season of intense Grand Prix racing. The full tally of points for the Portuguese over the last two races has meant he has confirmed his third position in the Moto2 World Championship.
crescendo to the season gets better and better qualifying one place behind his team mate after the outgoing Moto3 Champion is back on top form again after a difficult injury strewn start to the year.
Oliveira: "The difference between our time and the pole lap was very small today. The positive thing is that we have a very good pace and I was the only one to lower my times at the end of qualifying. On my first run I didn't make the most of all the grip that the tyres offered, and that made things a little tough for me. The bike is performing well ahead of the race and I think I'm ready to fight. It will be important to not lose too much time at the start, and take risks when necessary, in order to fight for a third consecutive win."
Binder: "I'm very happy. My pace is the best I've ever had in Moto2. I have the feeling that I can set the exact same time on every lap. The KTM is working incredibly well, but we can't afford to relax, because if so we might have scares like the small crash we had at the end of qualifying. I also know that we have room for improvement on several corners. I will give 110% tomorrow. I feel comfortable, I've never been so fast and I have nothing to lose, so I want to fight for the win."
A front row start will be for Gabriel Rodrigo aboard his KTM RC250 GP Moto3 motorcycle after affirming his third place by over a third of a second from his opposition. For the Spainard this once more confirms his speed in qualifying as this is his fifth front row start in nine races.
Red Bull Ajo’s Bo Bendsneyder
will start his final race with the team from tenth spot while Junior Moto3 World Champion Dennis Foggia makes his third appearance at Grand Prix level to start fifteenth.
KTM have won every single Moto3 race here at Valencia since the start of the four stroke class in 2012 with Kent, Vinales, Miller, Oliveira and Binder.
: “Today since the FP3 I felt a lot better than yesterday. I must thank my crew because they fixed most of the setting issues that I had during FP1 and FP2. I felt competitive since the beginning, on used tyres we set good times, as well as a consistent pace which is useful for tomorrow’s race. When we changed to the new tyre, even if it wasn’t the one for qualifying, we put in a very fast lap. That made me feel confident ahead of the QP. In the afternoon we started off by completing laps alone. I ensured a decent lap, which was meant to be enough to put us somewhere within the second or third row. We needed something more because here we’re all very fast this week: the track record was broken already in the FP3, so I was flat out in the final run. Even if I ran into a bit of traffic in T3, I could complete a solid lap. For the first time I got under 1’38, a time which was the track record just till yesterday. I’m very happy with the work that the team has done so far. It motivates me to finish the year with a front row, tomorrow we’ll try to wrap it all up with a great ending.
Bendsneyder: "I'm happy with the pace we had in qualifying, since I set my best time alone, although I'm a bit disappointed by the final position. We just didn’t have the luck to get a slipstream on the last laps. I had the feeling that having a rider ahead of us could have made a difference. In the end, 10th position riding alone is not bad and our pace is similar to that of some of the fastest riders. Tomorrow I would like to get on the podium; It's my last race with the team and in Moto3, and I have the feeling that we can have a good race. In this class you never know what can happen, so we're going to try everything."
Races: November 12, 2017 – Moto3 11:00 | Moto2 12:20 CET | MotoGP 14:00
Results Qualifying MotoGP Comunitat Valenciana - Ricardo Tormo 2017
1. Marc Marcquez (ESP), Honda, 1:29.897 min
2. Johann Zarco (FRA), Yamaha, +0.349
3. Andrea Iannone (ITA), Suzuki, +0.502
4. Jorge Lorenzo (ESP), Ducati, +0.563
5. Dani Pedrosa (ESP), Honda, +0.692
11. Pol Espargaro (ESP), KTM, +1.147 (+0.996 Q1)
17. Bradley Smith (GBR), KTM, +1.403 (Q1)
19. Mika Kallio (FIN), KTM, +1.464 (Q1)
Results Qualifying Moto2 Comunitat Valenciana - Ricardo Tormo 2017
1. Alex Marquez (ESP), Kalex, 1:35.050 min
2. Franco Morbidelli (ITA), Kalex, +0.065 sec
3. Mattia Pasini (ITA), Kalex, +0.105
4. Miguel Oliveira (POR), KTM, +0.132
5. Brad Binder (RSA), KTM, +0.273
Results Qualifying Moto3 Comunitat Valenciana - Ricardo Tormo 2017
1. Jorge Martin (ESP), Honda, 1:38.428 min
2. Joan Mir (ESP), Honda, +0.445 sec
3. Gabriel Rodrigo (ESP), KTM, +0.548
4. Tatsuki Suzuki (JAP), Honda, +0.880
5. Enea Bastianini (ITA), Honda, +0.891
8. Marcos Ramirez (ESP), KTM, +1.064
10. Bo Bendsneyder (NED), KTM, +1.108
14. Niccolo Antonelli (ITA), KTM, +1.398