Márquez masters tricky conditions to secure Le Mans front row
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS heads into tomorrow’s French Grand Prix ready to mount a double podium challenge after Alex Márquez and Xavi Vierge qualified inside the top five in wet conditions this afternoon.
- Qualifying day at the historic Bugatti Circuit in Le Mans was dominated by cold and wet weather conditions, with light rain falling throughout FP3, Q1 and Q2.
- Track temperature was only 15 degrees in a wet FP3 season this morning, which sawMárquez and Vierge build up their confidence and experience with Triumph’s new 765cc engine in rain conditions.
- Heavy cloud cover and persistent light rain meant conditions were even more demanding for the crucial 15-minute Q2 session, which ended with Márquez securing his third successive front row start in 2019 and Vierge powering to a second row start in fifth.
Alex Márquez: 3rd, 1:49.585, 26 laps, 109 km.
- With air temperatures peaking at a chilly 13 degrees in FP3, Márquez adopted a risk-free strategy to set the ninth fastest time this morning.
- Having advanced immediately into Q2 based on his impressive display in a dry FP2 session yesterday afternoon, the number 73 then expertly judged a slippery surface in Q2 to fight for pole position throughout.
- Márquez set a nerveless best pace of 1’49.585, which was only bettered by Jorge Navarro and Tom Luthi, who had a big advantage having already adjusted to the treacherous track conditions after coming through Q1.
“I feel ready for dry or wet conditions and the key is to be fully focused”
“The weather conditions made it a very tricky day. Already this morning it was mixed conditions but for qualifying the track was more wet. We did a very good job because it wasn’t easy to understand the conditions and get a good feeling from the bike having gone directly into Q2. The track was very slippery and I am happy with my pace in the rain this afternoon because I had some small doubts after FP3 earlier. I feel ready for tomorrow in dry or wet conditions and the key is being fully focused for whatever happens with the weather. If it’s wet then it will a battle to survive until the end and not make any mistakes. If it is dry, I think we have a really good pace from Friday and being constant on each lap will be crucial.”
Xavi Vierge: 5th, 1:50.232, 27 laps, 113 km.
- Vierge patiently built up to a consistent rhythm in FP3 this morning and was only one second away from the top 10 in the toughest conditions the Moto2 field has faced so far in 2019.
- The Spaniard was one of the main protagonists in an eventful Q2 session, which saw three of the top four crash in challenging conditions.
- A faultless final lap of 1’50.232 put Vierge in between Italian duo Mattia Pasini and Andrea Locatelli in the middle of the second row of the grid for the 25-lap race.
“We need to improve the rear grip if we want to have a chance of fighting with the front group”
“I am really happy with the job we did today. The conditions were very difficult but it looks like it will be the same tomorrow, so it was very important to do a good job and find a good feeling with the bike. We did it but we need to find another step because some of my opponents seem to have better rear grip and we will need to improve in that area if we want to have a chance of fighting with the front group. I have a good pace in the dry and it becomes a bit of a lottery in the wet but I hope it is fully dry or fully wet because the mixed conditions make it more complicated.”