Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix, Laguna Seca: Qualifying round-up
Germany’s Stefan Bradl has achieved a career first-ever MotoGP™ pole position at the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix in Laguna Seca. The LCR Honda MotoGP rider will start alongside Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Marquez and GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista. Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa have qualified sixth and seventh, respectively.
Courtesy of a 1’21.176 lap time, Bradl becomes the first ever German to clinch pole in the premier-class of the World Championship. Not only is he the second rider to clinch a maiden pole this season, but he has also become the first ever rider to achieve the qualifying top spot at Laguna Seca aboard a satellite machine.
Marquez – whose challenge ended with a crash at Turn 6, four minutes before the chequered flag came out – was 17 thousandths of a second slower on his first weekend at the Californian circuit, having topped three or the four practice sessions, while Bautista starts on the front row for the first time since taking pole position at Silverstone last year. Row 2 is headed up by Yamaha Factory Racing’s Valentino Rossi, ahead of Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow, who had earlier crashed at Turn 3 during final practice. Crutchlow then also had a difficult qualifying, as an issue with the front suspension sensor threw his electronics out of sorts early on.
Rossi’s teammate Lorenzo, still suffering from a broken and very painful left collarbone, who missed last weekend’s German Grand Prix, will set off from sixth place and the back of the second row. Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa was also absent from the Sachsenring race as well as Free Practices 1 and 3 here; he – similarly suffering with his left collarbone – will head up Row 3, ahead of Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso who moved ahead of Tech 3’s Bradley Smith late in Q2.
Americans Nicky Hayden and Colin Edwards will start tenth and 15th for their respective Ducati Team and NGM Mobile Forward Racing outfits, but compatriot and wildcard entrant Blake Young has withdrawn from the event after damaging his sole Attack Performance Racing APR frame in a crash on Friday. There was also a crash for Randy de Puniet, as the Frenchman – who had reached Q2 for the third time this year – went down at Turn 3. He will start 12th, behind teammate Aleix Espargaro who led the CRTs for the ninth time in as many races this season.
In 14th spot will be Ignite Pramac Racing’s Alex de Angelis, making a one-off return to the top class from Moto2™ as a substitute for Ben Spies, who is set to make a comeback at Indianapolis following the summer break. Energy T.I. Pramac Racing’s Andrea Iannone, who would have been alongside de Angelis in the garage, has not travelled to the USA after dislocating his right shoulder last time out in Germany. Another faller in qualifying was Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing, 19th on grid), who went down and slid across the Turn 10 gravel trap in Q1.