Late charge lifts Morbidelli into top 10
An impressive late charge in an interrupted Moto2 qualifying session put Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Franco Morbidelli inside the top 10 on the grid for tomorrow’s 19-lap Circuit of the Americas race.
Just over 10 minutes of qualifying remained when the session was red-flagged following an incident involving Efren Vazquez.
A short delay didn’t knock Morbidelli out of his rhythm and a final lap of 2.09.910 lifted him from a lowly 18th into ninth for tomorrow’s third round of the 2016 Moto2 World Championship.
Italian Morbidelli is optimistic he can fight for a second successive top five at the 5.5km Circuit of the Americas track, having made big progress in improving front-end feeling with his Kalex machine after a problematic first day of practice yesterday.
Álex Márquez has promised an attacking start to tomorrow’s race after a lap of 2.10.418 left the Spaniard down in 21st position on the grid.
A seventh row start certainly doesn’t accurately reflect the former Moto3 World Champion’s pace and potential after he’d finished less than 0.3s outside of the top three in this morning’s rain-hit final practice session.
Franco Morbidelli: 9th – 2’09.910
“The third row is a decent starting position and at the end of the session I was able to put in a really good lap. That was good because I’ve been a little in trouble with my feeling on the bike this weekend. But after the red flag I was able to improve my lap time a lot on used tyres, so this gives me confidence for the race tomorrow. We still have some work to do because I don’t have complete confidence with the bike, so we will work hard overnight to improve my feeling.”
Álex Márquez 21st – 2’10.418
“Today is disappointing to say the least. I believe I have the pace to be on the third row or better but when the session resumed after the red flag I lost a little bit of confidence. I made a mistake on a good lap that cost me a few places on the grid and I apologise to the team for that. I’ve no doubt I can improve my pace in the Warm-up and my objective in the race will be to fight back into the points and push for the top 10.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“You can see on track that Franco’s bike is not reacting in a normal way. We have improved his feeling but not enough and I have to say a big thanks to him because he really had to dig deep to put in that lap time to put him on the third row. If we can solve the problem tonight then we always know how strong he is the race, so he can definitely race with the lead group. But if we don’t find a solution then it will be mission impossible for him. Álex’s grid position I don’t think really shows how strong he can be in the race tomorrow. He was as high as tenth before the red flag, but after the restart it seemed a few riders had more confidence to push in the final minutes. It will be a difficult race tomorrow and hopefully he can score some points. But the first priority is for Álex to finish after the two crashes in Qatar and Argentina.”