Mixed fortunes for Márquez and Morbidelli in Barcelona qualifying
Today’s Moto2 qualifying session at the revised Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya track was an eventful affair for Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders Álex Márquez and Franco Morbidelli.
Home crowd favourite Márquez was able to post a best lap of 1.49.712 that was less than 0.3s off securing him a first front row start in the Moto2 World Championship. His seventh place on the grid though for tomorrow’s 23-lap race still represents his best qualifying performance of 2016 on a sombre Saturday in Barcelona following the accident in FP2 yesterday that claimed the life of Luis Salom.
Hopes were high that Morbidelli would also be a leading contender for the top six in qualifying after he finished fifth quickest in FP3 this morning, as the Italian quickly adapted to major circuit modifications in the final sector.
Safety measures implemented as a result of Salom’s accident resulted in Race Direction opting to revert to a circuit configuration traditionally used for Formula One at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
That meant a revised entry to turn 10 and a slower three-turn chicane to negotiate before the final corner.
Morbidelli was less than 0.1s outside of the top three in an extended FP3 but he will start round seven from a lowly 18th place after he fell twice in qualifying.
He’d already crashed on his out lap at the beginning of qualifying at turn three when he escaped unhurt from a high-speed session-ending tumble at turn nine on only his sixth lap.
Álex Márquez: 7th – 1’49.712
“I am really happy with the job I did today and to get my best qualifying result of the season is a good reward for all the hard work the team and I have been putting in. I have to admit it was not easy to return to the track today after the accident of Luis Salom but we rode for him. What I’m most pleased about is the fact that I normally struggle for one lap but today I was fast. I think I could have been even faster but I caught one rider in the new T4 and lost some time. To be seventh on the grid gives me a good chance to get away with the lead group and I am confident of doing that because my practice starts this weekend have all been good.”
Franco Morbidelli: 18th – 1’50.826
“I made a big mistake entering turn 9 and that ended my qualifying session unfortunately. It was a stupid mistake and I must apologise to the team. I am not a rider that normally has a lot of crashes and we have got a very difficult job to do tomorrow starting from so far down the grid. But I have shown I can be fast here this weekend and the target will be to be aggressive from the start and pick up some places to try and score some decent World Championship points.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“We certainly experienced mixed fortunes in today’s qualifying session and I have to say I am disappointed for Franco because he was fastest in FP2 yesterday and we had high hopes he could perform well today. To have three crashes in one day is very unlike him and it is a shame because he has shown he has the pace, but he has to start way down the grid for the race tomorrow. Álex did a really good job and I am happy with him. He always performs very well at faster tracks and he has shown that again today by securing his best qualifying position of the season. I hope now he can have a good race from the third row to get some solid World Championship points on the board.”