Cal Crutchlow has stormed to his second MotoGP™ pole position for the bwin Grand Prix České republiky. The Monster Yamaha Tech3 rider will start alongside GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista and Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Marquez, while Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo round out the top five.
Following Friday’s opening pair of practice sessions, Crutchlow had been unhappy with the new fuel tank fitted to his bike, but appeared to rectify this by setting the pace in third free practice on Saturday morning. He would go on to claim his second MotoGP pole in five race weekends, following that of Assen at the end of June.
However, a second career pole looked to be heading the way of Bautista after the Gresini rider intelligently picked up Marquez’s slipstream to dip underneath Lorenzo’s 2012 qualifying record. Following a stop in the pit lane, Crutchlow would go on to beat this by over two tenths of a second thanks to his rapid time of 1’55.527.
With Bautista on the front row for the second time in three races, championship leader – and winner of the last three Grands Prix – Marquez crucially starts ahead of his closest two title contenders, with teammate and last year’s Brno winner Pedrosa only five thousandths of a second in arrears and Lorenzo a further 81 thousandths behind. The reigning World Champion expected more, though, not least after testing at Brno in the mid-season break as well as beginning the weekend as fastest rider.
Tech3’s Bradley Smith equalled his qualifying best by beating the second Yamaha Factory Racing rider Valentino Rossi to sixth place, as LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl and Ducati Team duo Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden completed the first group of ten. Energy T.I. Pramac Racing’s Andrea Iannone made it to the shootout for 11th place – despite a collision with an air fence early in Q1 – whereas NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards was encouraged to feature in Q2 for the second time within the space of a week, equipped with the standard MotoGP ECU software package. This left usual CRT pace-setter Aleix Espargaro third in Q1 and therefore 13th on the grid, hindered by a crash in fourth free practice which immediately preceded the qualifying session.
Returning to action to cover for the injured Ben Spies at Ignite Pramac Racing, Michele Pirro will line up 14th, as wildcard Martin Bauer backs up the grid in 25th position on an S&B Suter. Incidentally, Bauer’s Remus Racing Team makes history this weekend by becoming the first Austrian-entered outfit to compete in the premier class of Grand Prix racing.
Taking place after the Moto2™ race but before that of Moto3™, Sunday’s MotoGP battle commences at 1pm local time (GMT +2).
Japan’s Takaaki Nakagami has claimed his second Moto2™ pole position ahead of Sunday’s bwin Grand Prix České republiky. The Italtrans Racing Team rider beat Tuenti HP 40 pair Pol Espargaro and Tito Rabat, who posted identical lap times. Championship leader Scott Redding could manage no more than 13th position.
Nakagami’s qualifying-topping result is his first since Le Mans, where he started on pole but threw away the lead of the race courtesy of an unforced error. In second place, Espargaro – who starts ahead of time-matching teammate Rabat, as he registered the lap first – will set off some 11 positions ahead of title rival Redding, making for a critical Sunday afternoon for both riders.
Behind Rabat – who won at Indianapolis last weekend and earlier on Saturday was confirmed as joining the Marc VDS Racing Team for the next two Moto2 seasons – the top five is completed by Redding’s Marc VDS teammate Mika Kallio and Dynavolt Intact GP’s Sandro Cortese, as the reigning Moto3™ World Champion achieves his best qualifying result so far since stepping up to the intermediate class.
Sachsenring victor Jordi Torres will line up sixth for Aspar Team Moto2, ahead of Came IodaRacing Project’s Johann Zarco and Interwetten Paddock Moto2 Racing’s Tom Luthi, with the top ten completed by Aspar’s Nico Terol and Technomag carXpert’s Dominique Aegerter. Further back, on Row 5, Redding will start ahead of Nakagami’s teammate Julian Simon and NGM Mobile Racing’s Simone Corsi.
Two riders hit trouble in qualifying, as both Tuenti HP 40’s Axel Pons and Technomag carXpert’s Randy Krummenacher suffered crashes. Sunday’s Moto2 race will be the first of the day, starting at 11:20am local time (GMT +2).
Alex Rins, winner of the last two Moto3™ races, has claimed a third consecutive pole position for this weekend’s bwin Grand Prix České republiky. The Estrella Galicia 0,0 rider will start alongside Team Calvo’s Maverick Viñales and Ongetta-Rivacold’s Alexis Masbou, with championship leader Luis Salom in fifth place.
Qualifying in the Czech Republic marked the first time this weekend that Rins had topped a session, as title rivals Viñales and Salom had led the way in practice. The magic number for the Barcelona rider was 2’07.622, impressively over half a second quicker than nearest challenger and compatriot Viñales as France’s Masbou claimed his first front row starting position since Silverstone last year. Jack Miller’s fourth place was arguably just as notable, as the Australian Caretta Technology – RTG rider had undergone surgery for a broken collarbone earlier this week.
Salom (Red Bull KTM Ajo), who leads the championship from Viñales and Rins by nine and 16 points respectively, will start from the middle of Row 2, having been a second slower than Rins who is on pole for the fifth time this year; incidentally, Salom is also riding injured after sustaining damage to a foot in a highside crash at Indianapolis a week ago, leaving him temporarily on crutches.
There was an incident this afternoon for Rins’ teammate Alex Marquez, who will start sixth, whereas the top ten is rounded out by Jonas Folger (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3), Arthur Sissis (Red Bull KTM Ajo, who also crashed in qualifying) plus Mahindra Racing’s Efren Vazquez and Miguel Oliveira.
Other crashes came for GO&FUN Gresini Moto3’s Niccolo Antonelli (16th on the grid, jumping up one spot due to a six-place penalty for CIP Moto3’s Alan Techer) and Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3’s Eric Granado (15th). Wildcard riders Andrea Migno (GMT Racing) and Jules Danilo (Marc VDS Racing Team) will set off from 32nd and 34th spots, while the 35-rider grid is completed by Luca Amato, who has replaced Danny Webb at Ambrogio Racing.
Sunday’s Moto3 race commences at 2:30pm local time (GMT +2); in a change to the usual schedule, it will follow the races of Moto2 and MotoGP.
- Dovi leads the charge to Q2
- Rossi: the statistics behind the decades
- FP3: Marquez leads Baldassarri and Oliveira
- Canet, Martin and Antonelli head up FP3
- Lorenzo: aero or no aero is the question in Qatar
- Dovizioso: “I’m not too worried…”
- Suzuki closest challenger to Ducati on Day 1
- MotoE™ Teams announced
- Sparks fly: Dovizioso edges to the top on first day of 2018
- Enjoy the #QatarGP LIVE with VideoPass