Morbidelli and Márquez ready for podium hunt in Australia
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders Franco Morbidelli and Álex Márquez will launch their podium charge in tomorrow’s Australian Moto2 Grand Prix from alongside each on the second row of the grid.
Rapidly changing and unpredictable weather conditions played a crucial role once again in today’s action in Phillip Island, with cold temperatures, a howling wind and rain contributing to a demanding time on track for World Championship contender Morbidelli and Twin Ring Motegi winner Márquez.
Hopes to use a full dry qualifying session to gain more confidence and feeling with their Kalex machinery were quickly dashed when a short rain shower fell just as pit lane opened for the 45-minute session.
A strong wind quickly dried the surface and Morbidelli and Márquez both made a concerted effort to try and secure a front row start for tomorrow’s 25-lap race.
Italian Morbidelli, who is fully focused on increasing his 19-point World Championship advantage over closest rival Tom Lüthi, finished less than 0.1s away from the top three when he fired in a late lap of 1’33.495.
Morbidelli looked well set to mount another late attack for the front row when a small mistake in the braking zone for turn four in the closing stages put paid to his hopes.
Márquez starts round 16 from sixth position, with the Spaniard delighted to have made progress with his feeling from Dunlop’s hard option rear tyre in the key final sector of the 4.4km Phillip Island track.
The Spaniard is confident he can fight for a leading position in the event of a dry encounter tomorrow, but with forecasts predicting a strong chance of rain, Márquez is ready to show his wet weather prowess again following his stunning triumph just six days ago in Japan.
Franco Morbidelli: 5th – 1’33.495
“It’s always good to qualify on the front row but I’m happy to be inside the top six, which is still a good starting position. It has been a tricky weekend with the weather and it was complicated when the rain fell at the start of qualifying. I still had good pace in my first run but we just missed out on the front row at the end. Lüthi is further down the grid than me again but that doesn’t change my focus for the race. All I can do is give my absolute best and we can’t rule Lüthi out. He has great skills to be very fast in the first laps and he can be there. But I can’t think too much about him. My main goal is concentrate on my own job to make sure we keep control of the Championship.”
Álex Márquez: 6th – 1’33.749
“I’m satisfied to be on the second row of the grid. We made a good step with the setting on the bike this morning and I felt much more comfortable and less on the limit than yesterday. It has been a strange weekend because the weather has changed in every session and being honest I know I don’t have the best pace. The good point is I feel better on the bike and we must be ready for whatever the weather throws up for us. It could be wet and that doesn’t bother me after last weekend’s great result in Japan.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“It has not been an easy weekend so far for us in Australia with the cold, wet and windy conditions dominating proceedings. It makes it difficult to find the optimum set-up but they both worked non-stop to be as best prepared as possible for the race. We haven’t found the best set-up for them yet, so considering the problems we have encountered we can’t be disappointed to have Franco and Álex inside the top six. Both are always strong in the race and I expect the same tomorrow. We have qualified higher than Lüthi again, so Franco is aware that he has a good chance to extend his lead in the Championship going to Malaysia next week.”