Morbidelli clinches front row in baking Brno
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Franco Morbidelli set a Moto2 qualifying pace as hot as the scorching temperatures in Brno today to secure a ninth front row start in 10 races this season.
Morbidelli commenced qualifying brimming with confidence after finishing a close second to teammate Álex Márquez in FP3 this morning, and he delivered a strong fight to come close to delivering his sixth pole position of the 2017 World Championship campaign.
With a summer heatwave sending track temperatures soaring to a sizzling 45 degrees this afternoon, grip levels were always going to be at a premium around the spectacular 5.4km track.
Most of the fastest times were set early in the 45-minute session, with Morbidelli setting a hot pace from the off, and his 2’02.661 on just his fourth lap proved enough to claim third on the timesheets.
The Italian missed out on pole position by the narrow margin of just 0.050s, and he is expecting a tense and dramatic big group battle in tomorrow’s 20-lap race.
Morbidelli will race tomorrow in the same leathers that he debuted on track today. The leather suit, produced especially for this weekend, features the colours of the Brazilian flag and celebrates the Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider's Brazilian roots.
Márquez had to dig deep today to launch his challenge for the front row, with the Spaniard still experiencing some neck discomfort from his Sachsenring race crash last month in Germany.
The former Moto3 World Champion was in inspired form this morning when a blistering lap of 2’02.747 saw him top the combined practice standings. The increase in ambient and track temperature though meant Márquez wasn’t able to push with the same confidence levels that he had in FP3 and he ended the qualifying shootout in sixth position with a best lap of 2’02.965.
Having finished no lower than fifth in his previous four visits to the famous Brno track, he is confident he can extend that impressive record tomorrow.
Franco Morbidelli: 3rd – 2’02.661
“I did my fast time early in the session and was not surprised when I didn't improve later because the conditions got worse, so luckily I got my time in early. I am happy for this front row as it is always important to start in the top six, especially here. There are a lot of riders with a similar pace and lap time so it is going to be a very interesting race.”
Álex Márquez: 6th – 2’02.965
“I am quite satisfied because in the five weeks after my big crash in the race in Germany I was only able to ride supermoto for one day, so I came here a bit rusty. I still have a little bit of pain in my neck and it takes me time to reach a good rhythm. It was good for my confidence to be fastest this morning but the conditions were very difficult this afternoon with the heat. I struggled a little bit more in the hot conditions but I am happy to be on the second row and optimistic that I can achieve a positive result tomorrow. I did the same lap time in qualifying on a 15-lap old tyre as with a new rear slick, so that shows it wasn’t so easy to be fast with the temperature on the ground being so high. I still believe I can fight for the victory and this is my target on a track I like a lot.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“It’s always nice to have Franco and Álex in Parc Ferme but we cannot be too greedy after our incredible performances in the first half of the season! Franco has the pace to fight for the win tomorrow but there are another four or five riders that have a fast rhythm too, so I think we could see another dramatic race like in Assen a few weeks ago where it was very close. Álex has not felt completely comfortable on the bike and he’s still not at his physical best, so I’m happy he battled on with great determination and spirit to get in the top six. The adrenaline will be flowing in the race and I expect to see him putting up a strong fight for the podium.”