Márquez makes his mark at Motorland Aragon
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Álex Márquez thrilled a passionate home crowd at Motorland Aragon today with a stunning ride to the front row of the grid for tomorrow’s 21-lap Moto2 clash.
The 20-year-old threw down the gauntlet to his rivals in spectacular fashion this morning when a brilliant lap of 1’53.340 put him over 0.2s clear of reigning World Champion Johann Zarco at the of top the final practice leaderboard.
Márquez built superbly on the confidence gained from his dazzling ride this morning to put up a strong challenge for pole position throughout a qualifying session that took part in sizzling hot conditions this afternoon.
Temperatures reached close to 30 degrees and Márquez was certainly in red-hot form on track as a lap of 1’53.261 moved him into first position.
The Spaniard seemed destined to claim a career first pole position in Moto2 when a late charge from Sam Lowes denied him by just 0.054s.
Márquez was still able to celebrate recording his second front row start in the last four races and his best ever qualifying performance in Moto2 has set him up perfectly for a podium challenge in tomorrow’s race.
This afternoon’s 45-minute qualifying session didn’t go according to plan for Franco Morbidelli, who qualified in seventh position, but will start round 14 from one place further back in eighth.
The Italian was unable to replicate his promising practice rhythm in qualifying, and he was relegated back one place on the grid after receiving a penalty from Race Direction for his involvement in an incident with Miguel Oliveira yesterday.
The Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider collided with Oliveira in turn three on the opening lap of FP1 when the Leopard rider braked unexpectedly mid-corner, catching Morbidelli unawares. Despite also braking hard as soon as he saw Oliveira slow in front of him, Morbidelli was unable to avoid a collision and both riders crashed. The Italian accepted the penalty imposed by race direction without appeal, but was keen to make clear that the crash was an error rather than an overly aggressive manoeuvre on his part.
Álex Márquez: 2nd – 1’53.261
“I am really happy to be back on the front row for only the second time in my Moto2 career. I made a good start to qualifying on used tyres and that gave me confidence that I could fight for pole position when I put in new rubber for the time attack. I was really happy with my lap time that put me on top of the timesheets and I was confident I could have challenged Lowes again for pole position but in the last exit I encountered a small problem with the engine. We seemed to lose power and it cost me some crucial time but I am so happy to be on the front row in front of my home crowd. Their support today was again incredible and hopefully I can reward them with my first podium in Moto2 tomorrow. There would certainly be no better place to do it than here with so much support, so I will be giving my maximum to be in the top three.”
Franco Morbidelli: 8th – 1’53.844
“To be honest I’m a little disappointed to be on the third row of the grid and I expected to be faster and more competitive. We have to analyse the data to understand why I wasn’t able to show my full potential and make sure we fix some issues ahead of the race. The third row of the grid is not bad and I am sure I can fight with the front group tomorrow, but I was expecting to be stronger. I am sorry that Miguel won't be on the grid with us tomorrow due to the injuries he sustained in our crash on Friday. We were both a little bit at fault yesterday but while I walked away uninjured, he wasn't so lucky. I have spoken to him and wished him a speedy recovery and I hope he will be back with us very soon.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“Álex has always been fast on this track, so I am delighted to see him take advantage of that and put up such a strong performance in practice and qualifying today. He has shown right from the start of FP1 yesterday that he has the speed to be challenging at the front and he confirmed that this morning when he was fastest in final practice. He’s now second on the grid and I don’t think there is any doubt that he has a great opportunity to score his first podium in Moto2 tomorrow. It will be an exciting race and I fully expect to see him playing a leading role. Franco wasn’t quite as fast as I was expecting but the third row of the grid is not bad. He’s always fast in the race on Sunday, so I am confident he can go away with the lead group and be in the podium battle.”