Circuit Notes by Peter Hubbard: Marquez Records Fastest Lap and Takes Motogp™ Pole Again at COTA
Marc Marquez not only continued his mastery at Circuit of The Americas™ Saturday by leading the pack during the P3 and P4 practice sessions, he followed that up by putting his No. 93 Repsol Honda on the pole for the second year in a row, ahead of tomorrow’s 2014 Red Bull Grand Prix of The Americas. In the process he posted the fastest MotoGP lap time ever recorded in Austin, crossing the finish in 2:02.77, beating the previous record of 2:03.021 that he had set during last year’s qualifying. Last year Marquez went on to win the inaugural MotoGP race in Texas, the first of seven victories he notched last year on the way to winning the 2013 World Championship.
The young Spaniard secured the pole, his second in as many races this year, by edging out his fellow countryman and teammate Dani Pedrosa on the No. 26 Repsol Honda by less than three-tenths of a second. Pedrosa crossed the finish line with a time of 2:03.062. With German rider Stefan Bradl finishing third atop his No. 6 LCR Honda with a time of 2:03.196, it will be an all-Honda front row.
Coincidentally, it will be an all-Yamaha second row. Taking the inside spot in fourth place with a time of 2:03.240 was Aleix Espargaro, atop the No. 41 NGM Forward Racing Yamaha. Next to Espargaro, in fifth and sixth places, will be the two Movistar Yamaha MotoGP bikes. These included the No. 99 ridden by 2012 MotoGP Champion Jorge Lorenzo and the No. 46 bike of Moto GP veteran and seven-time premier-class champion Valentino Rossi. Lorenzo’s best lap time was clocked at 2:03.243, while Rossi’s was just a tick slower at 2:03.244.
The first man in the third row, sitting atop the fastest Ducati in the field will be British racer Cal Crutchlow, riding the No. 35 Ducati factory bike. Crutchlow, sitting seventh, recorded a time of 2:03.780. Next to him will be fellow British rider Bradley Smith aboard the No. 38 bike for Monster Yamaha Tech 3, followed by Italian Andrea Iannone’s No. 29 Ducati, fielded by Pramac Racing. Smith and Iannone posted times of 2:03.800 and 2:03.842, respectively.
Filling out the fourth row in 10th through 12th places will be Italy’s Andrea Dovizioso, riding the No. 4 bike for the Ducati factory team, followed by two Spaniards, Pol Espargaro on the No. 44 bike for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team and Alvaro Bautista atop the No. 19 Go&Fun Gresini Honda. The first 12 riders in the race all posted lap times under 2:04.
Leading off the fifth row, in 13th place, will be British rider Scott Redding, riding the No. 45 Go&Fun Gresini Honda. Next to him, in 14th, will be one of only two Americans in the race, Kentucky native Nicky Hayden on the No. 69 Drive M7 Aspar Honda. Rounding out the row will be Colombian rider Yonny Hernandez on the No. 68 Ducati, fielded by Energy T.I. Pramac Racing.
The only other American rider in the 23-man field will be crowd favorite Colin Edwards from Conroe, Texas, who on Thursday announced he plans to retire at the end of the 2014 season after a colorful 22 years as a professional motorcycle racer. He placed 19th in the field with the No. 5 NGM Forward Racing Yamaha.
The 2014 Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas is scheduled to kick off Sunday at 2 p.m. CT, with COTA’s official two-wheel ambassador and 1993 500cc Grand Prix World Champion Kevin Schwantz serving as Grand Marshal. For complete results from today’s MotoGP, Moto2™ and Moto3™ qualifying sessions, visit http://www.motogp.com/en/Results+Statistics
MARC MARQUEZ: “I am very happy being on the pole again, obviously. It felt really good out there on the bike this afternoon. My leg is actually feeling much better, after hurting it in Qatar. I decided not to use painkillers today to help with the injury to my leg, but I definitely will take them for the race, because tomorrow it’s much more important. We also need to stay more focused, because it looks like the weather may be a little bit unstable. So we intend to do our jobs as a team, push really hard just like we did yesterday and today … and fight for a victory. I tried not to push too hard, but as I think you saw, there were some moments where the rear end got loose and started to wobble – but it was only for a moment. I was just fine.
“And I have to say, now that the track is a bit more settled in than it was last year, I was getting much better grip in the corners yesterday than I did on that first Friday last year. The track feels a lot more stable than it did before, but that could all go away if it decides to rain tomorrow.”
DANI PEDROSA: “Today we did really good in qualifying and wound up on the front row. Being up front is really important at this track. Since the first corner is so tight, you need to get off to a really good start. And if you’re in the front row you stand a much better chance. You need to position yourself ahead of the pack in order to get around that first corner safely. We saw some real improvements in lap times over yesterday, and I was riding better over every section of the track. But we really don’t know what the weather is going to do, so we’ll just have to wait until tomorrow.”
STEFAN BRADL: “We saw quite a bit of improvement, both by our team and from me, between yesterday and today. So I’m really happy about being on the front row. It looks like the Hondas are strong here this weekend, but we can’t really relax. I think right behind me there are four Yamahas really close together, and I’m sure they’ll try and take advantage if we make even one mistake during the race. So I always have to be careful and do the best that I can.”
NICKY HAYDEN: “I honestly thought the flowing sections of this track would be easier than they have been earlier today. I struggled through there last year and I thought it would be much easier this year on the Honda, but that hasn’t really been the case. We also had some electronic issues that have cost us valuable time during qualifying. It’s a shame that we didn’t have a better result here at our home Grand Prix. Things didn’t exactly go according to plan, but looking on the bright side we improved by a full second in qualifying and we have to keep working hard in the warm-up tomorrow to try and find a bit more speed. Hopefully we can do that and give the fans here a better show during the race.”
About Circuit of The Americas
Circuit of The Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas, is the home of world championships and a world-class destination for premium sports and entertainment. COTA has been nominated as the 2014 “Sports Facility of the Year” by SportsBusiness Journal/Daily. The same publication named COTA’s annual marquee event, the FORMULA 1 UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX, “Sports Event of the Year” for 2013. Additionally, COTA is the new North American home for the summer edition of ESPN’s X Games. More than one million visitors come to COTA each year for events such as MotoGP™, United Sportscar Racing, the FIA World Endurance Championships, business and social functions, and more than 20 performances at the venue’s acclaimed Austin360 Amphitheater, winner of Pollstar’s “Best New Major Concert Venue” award for 2013. COTA’s 1,500-acre campus includes a variety of permanent structures, including a 44,000-square foot Event Center, an impressive Main Grandstand with hospitality suites and the Velocity Lounge, a 270,000-square foot Paddock Building with 34 garages, and an iconic 25-story Observation Tower at the heart of the facility. For more information and downloadable video and photos, visit: www.CircuitofTheAmericas.com, www.Austin360Amphitheater.com or COTA’s dedicated FTP site, media.circuitoftheamericas.com. Follow COTA on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CircuitofTheAmericas and Twitter @circuitamericas and @COTAmedia.