Morbidelli powers to front row in Japan
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Franco Morbidelli starred in a record-breaking Moto2 qualifying session at the Twin Ring Motegi track today to secure a second front row start in the 2016 World Championship campaign.
The 21-year-old started this afternoon’s 45-minute qualifying session in confident mood having finished inside the top three in FP2 and FP3.
And his optimism was well placed when he instantly launched an attack for the top three again in an eventful qualifying session that saw reigning World Champion Johann Zarco set the fastest ever Moto2 lap of the 4.8km Twin Ring Motegi venue.
A hot lap of 1’50.317 ensured Morbidelli was the closest challenger to the dominant duo of Zarco and Thomas Luthi and the Italian was delighted to secure only the fourth front row start of his Grand Prix career.
Márquez will launch his challenge for a second successive podium finish in 2016 from the middle of the third row of the grid in eighth in tomorrow’s 23-lap encounter.
The Spanish rider was boosted by an impressive ride into the top six in this morning’s final practice session, despite a slow speed tumble when he lost the front-end of his Kalex machine at turn five.
Márquez was able to set a fast and consistent rhythm in qualifying and a best lap of 1’50.563 was just a fraction over two-tenths-of-a-second away from claiming a third front row start in the last five rounds.
Franco Morbidelli: 3rd – 1’50.317
“I am very happy to be starting from the front row of the grid for tomorrow’s race and it is a good reward for all the hard work the team has put in so far this weekend. It is a bit of a pity that I wasn’t able to improve my pace in the last run and we have to check the data tonight to understand why that was the case. But to be inside the top three is a good result. I have been very competitive in every session so far and I go into the race confident that I can be fighting for the podium. We are in a good run of form and it is important to keep that momentum going for the final part of the season.”
Álex Márquez: 8th – 1’50.563
“I am happy with my performance so far this weekend because this was a track I struggled a lot on last season. We have made a big step in improving my feeling on the bike and that has been reflected in my performance in every session. I have been fast and consistent but we need to work a little bit on the rhythm in the Warm-up tomorrow morning. I need to make a good launch off the line and be aggressive in the early part of the race to make sure I don’t lose contact with the leading group. The most important thing is to finish the race and score decent points on a track that has not been easy for me in Moto2.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“We can be very optimistic heading into tomorrow’s race that Franco and Álex will both be very competitive in the lead group after what was a very strong qualifying performance from both of them. Franco has been a permanent fixture inside the top six all weekend and to be on the front row in a session where record laps are being set is a positive outcome. His race rhythm is also very strong and I have no doubt he will be challenging for another podium tomorrow. It is a shame that Álex didn’t quite make it into the top six but he has been consistent and I am expecting him to put up another strong challenge in the leading group.”