Márquez to launch podium challenge from second row
Alex Márquez will start the crucial Australian Grand Prix from 6th place as Xavi Vierge finds considerable improvements to secure a place on the 5th row of the grid.
- Once again the weather on Phillip Island threw up a series of challenges on Saturday with team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS team-mates Alex Márquez and Xavi Vierge contending with winds in excess of 60kph in FP3.
- Qualifying required similar bravery, with rain arriving with 5 minutes of the Q2 shootout to play. Márquez and Vierge had worked together, circulating on track as a pair to secure 6th and 14th places respectively on the Australian starting grid.
Alex Márquez, 6th, 1:34.136, 26 laps, 116 km.
- The rain that was forecast for Saturday morning didn’t arrive, giving Márquez the chance to work on his bike set-up in dry, blustery conditions. He posted the 12th fastest time (1:34.379).
- His crew made some important changes to the set-up of his Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex between FP3 and Q2, giving him added feeling for the 15-minute Q2 shootout.
- Thanks to Vierge, Márquez posted the 7th best time of the session in his team-mate’s slipstream. He then gained 1 position on the grid as Sam Lowes was given a grid penalty.
“We’ll try to do a smart race”
“It was a difficult day on the bike, especially at this track because it’s so fast. With the wind it’s tricky. From the morning to the afternoon we did an improvement that I felt a lot in qualifying. I want to say thanks to the team because they did a great job. In qualifying I also have to say thank you to Xavi because he helped me. The conditions weren’t easy and if you have somebody in front it’s much better. I’m on the second row for tomorrow. This is good. It looks like there will be better conditions for the race. We’ll try to be there and do a smart race.”
Xavi Vierge, 14th, 1:34.730, 34 laps, 151 km.
- Vierge overcame the back pain he felt after a crash in FP1 to place 14th in FP3 and then qualify for Q2 thanks to the 3rd best time in Q1.
- The 22-year old worked together with his team to improve his settings in the limited dry track time available to all Moto2 riders.
- The Catalan was unfortunate on his final lap of Q2 when rain started falling in the circuit’s final sector. In that moment, Vierge was going to improve his time considerably, but had to settle for 16th. Grid penalties for 2 other riders (Sam Lowes and Tetsuta Nagashima) promoted him to 14th, on the 5th row.
“We’ll try to enjoy the race”
“It was a difficult day. The conditions were really complicated: wind and rain! The wind was really strong and difficult to understand because it wasn’t always coming from the same direction. I think we did a good job. We tried everything in FP3 to go directly to Q2. It wasn’t possible, but we made it into Q2 via Q1. We tried to make another step with the setting for Q2 but it wasn’t possible. I tried everything. I was improving on my final lap but when I got to the last sector the rain started falling and I couldn’t finish it well. It’s a good position considering the big crash yesterday. I feel good riding the bike and we made a step forward. We need to see what happens with the weather tomorrow and we’ll try to enjoy the race.”