Morbidelli and Márquez set for starring role in Spielberg drama
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders Franco Morbidelli and Álex Márquez are set to launch a double podium challenge at the Spielberg track in Austria tomorrow after both delivered career best Moto2 qualifying performances this afternoon.
Morbidelli’s first front row start since Sachsenring’s German Grand Prix over a year ago came courtesy of an early attack in the 45-minute qualifying session, which took part in gloriously sunny conditions after chilly weather dominated yesterday’s practice.
The 21-year-old Italian’s best lap of 1.29.367 secured him second position on the grid for the 25-lap encounter, which will take place in front of a sell-out crowd at the fast and undulating Spielberg venue.
Morbidelli was over 0.6s faster than his fastest pace in practice and he was only denied a maiden pole position by just 0.112s.
Márquez will start on the middle of the second row of the grid after a lap of 1.29.702 placed him fifth at the end of qualifying. That superb performance beat his previous best Moto2 grid starting position of sixth at Motorland Aragon almost one year ago.
The 20-year-old has put in a tremendous amount of work in recent races to improve his qualifying performance and he got his reward today after improving by six places on his ranking at the end of practice earlier today.
Tomorrow’s race is the first Austrian Grand Prix since 1997 and it kicks off the second half of the 2016 World Championship campaign, with Morbidelli and Márquez completing the final nine races in just 14 weeks.
Franco Morbidelli: 2nd – 1’29.367
“I am very happy with today’s front row because qualifying has never really been my strong point. I managed to get my best lap time very early in the session and it is a great feeling to get my first front row for Team Estrellia Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS. I was fast but the race is going to be another story. It looks like Johann and Thomas have the best race pace, so I hope to be able to stay with them and give them a good fight.”
Álex Márquez: 5th – 1’29.702
“I am very satisfied with my performance today because we always have struggled a little in qualifying. But in the last races we have worked incredibly hard to improve my grid position and today showed it has paid off. It is a good feeling to get my best ever Moto2 qualifying and it gives me a real chance of getting away in the leading group in the race tomorrow. Qualifying on the second row also reduces the risk of being caught in any trouble at the tight first turn, so I must take profit of this with a good start. I have a really good feeling with the bike and if I can improve my pace in the third sector then I am confident I can be very competitive in the race.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“Today is a fantastic day for the team and for both Franco and Álex to score their career best qualifying result on the same day means we can go into the race tomorrow feeling very optimistic. Franco was clever to get in behind Zarco early in the session to set his fast lap time because it looks like the World Champion is the favourite again for the race. I am sure Franco will do his best to be in the fight at the front and take his second podium with us. I am also happy for Álex because he has worked a lot to improve his performance in qualifying. Being on the second row gives him a great opportunity to battle in the lead group, and his race rhythm has been fast and consistent all weekend, so we are confident he will be a top contender tomorrow.”