Morbidelli and Márquez braced for podium attack in Jerez

Morbidelli and Márquez braced for podium attack in Jerez

A brilliant Moto2 qualifying display from Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders Franco Morbidelli and Álex Márquez has boosted confidence that both can race for the podium in tomorrow’s Jerez round in Spain.

Inspired by big progress made in improving his front-end confidence through Jerez’s fast and sweeping sections, Morbidelli was just 0.041s away from claiming only his third front row start in the Moto2 World Championship.

A best lap of 1.42.480 was also only 0.072s from a sensational pole position for the Italian, who goes into tomorrow’s 26-lap race brimming with confidence that he can fight for his first podium of 2016.

Márquez kicked off his 20th birthday celebrations in fine style this afternoon after the Spaniard secured his first top 10 grid position of the season in front of a sizeable home crowd.

His ninth position though doesn’t tell the whole story, with Márquez just 0.256s off pole position in a 45-minute qualifying session that was tense and closely contested throughout.

Less than one second split the top 20 riders today to set up what promises to be a mouth-watering round four that will unfold in front of a crowd of well over 100,000 fans crammed into the 4.4km Andalusian venue.

Franco Morbidelli: 4th – 1’42.480
“The most positive point of today is that I am back at the top where I need to be after a bad weekend in Austin. It would have been nice to be on the front row and I am happy with my lap time but Lowes, Folger and Cortese just made that tiny, tiny difference to get the top three. I am very close to the best lap time and now I have to be fully concentrated for the race to try and finally get that first podium for the team.”

Álex Márquez: 9th – 1’42.664
“Today was a very good day for me. It is my birthday and to spend it riding in front of an amazing home crowd is something special. And to claim my best qualifying result of the season makes me even happier. My pace for one lap in qualifying was good and my rhythm for the race is also strong, so I think we have a good chance of getting a positive result. The start will be crucial to get away with the lead group and if we make the perfect job then maybe it is possible to fight for the podium.”

Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“We have to be very happy with today. Franco was very close to the front row and Álex was the closest he has been to the front all season, so we have to be satisfied. When the lap times are so close it is really important to qualify well and give yourself the best possible chance for the race and they both managed that today. Franco almost got in the top three but he didn’t miss the front row by much and he is still in a great position to fight for the podium. I’m really happy with his response after a difficult weekend in Austin and I am sure he can fight for the top three like in Qatar and Argentina. Starting on the third row also gives Álex a good chance to get in the fight at the front. It is nice for him to celebrate his birthday with a strong performance today. Now we hope to make it a double celebration tomorrow!”