On form Redding qualifies second in sweltering Barcelona
Scott Redding will start tomorrow’s Moto2 Grand Prix de Catalunya from the front row of the grid, after posting the second fastest time in this afternoon’s qualifying session, which was held in sweltering conditions. Mika Kallio will start from 12th position on the grid, after set-up issues left him unable to close the half-second gap to his Marc VDS teammate.
Fourth fastest in the cooler conditions of free practice this morning, Redding waited until the very end of this afternoon’s 45-minute qualifying session before showing his hand. The 20-year-old Briton posted his fastest lap of the weekend with just minutes of the session remaining, to qualify on the front row of the grid for the fifth time in six races.
Kallio tested revised rear suspension settings on his Kalex Moto2 machine during this morning’s free practice session, but was forced to switch back to the previous set-up due to a reduction in rear grip. The 30-year-old Finn managed to improve his previous best lap time by over half a second, but was disappointed to miss out on a position on the front three rows of the grid by just one tenth.
Both Marc VDS riders complained of a lack of top speed from their engines, which were supplied new for this race on Thursday afternoon. Neither Redding nor Kallio could pass out of the slipstream – crucial on the long main straight here at Catalunya – but were easy prey for riders coming up behind them. The team will look into the issue tonight, as a top speed deficit would be a major disadvantage in tomorrow’s 23-lap race.
Livio Loi put in his best qualifying performance of the season so far in Barcelona, to secure 13th position on the fifth row of the grid for tomorrow’s 22-lap Moto3 race. The 16-year-old Belgian improved his lap time by more than a second during this morning’s final free practice session, while running in a fast group that included Alex Marquez and eventual polesitter, Luis Salom. Loi carried this pace into this afternoon’s 40-minute qualifying session, finishing just two-tenths outside the top ten.
Scott Redding #45: 2nd – 1’47.029
“I’m happy, but also a little frustrated, because we had a problem with the engine during qualifying. The speed just wasn’t there and I was struggling to pass slower riders out of the slipstream on the straight. It meant I had to out brake them into turn one instead and that cost me time. The tyres were dropping off after just three or four laps, which meant the rear was spinning up hard instead of driving forward. We need to have a little look tonight to see if we can find something more for tomorrow, but to be on the front row to keep the pressure on means I’m pretty happy with today.”
Mika Kallio #36: 12th – 1’47.540
“The situation is not much different to Mugello two weeks ago. We made a change to the rear suspension set-up for free practice, which gave a better feeling, but it left us with little rear grip and we had to switch back again for qualifying. I managed to improve the lap time, but it’s not enough. One tenth more and I’d have been top nine, which is always the target. The biggest problem is a lack of power from the engine. I can’t overtake out of the slipstream, but other riders don’t seem to have the same problem. This is something we need to look into tonight because it’s going to make overtaking in the race very difficult. We’re one place higher on the grid than in Mugello so the plan will be the same, I just hope the result will be too.”
Livio Loi #11: 13th – 1’52.479
“This morning in final free practice we made a big step with the lap time. I was with a fast group and it was exactly what I needed, as I was able to run the same pace as them quite comfortably. This afternoon in qualifying it was quite hard, like always, because there are so many fast riders out there. I made my best lap time right at the start of my last run, but I was on an even faster lap, with at least one red helmet on the timesheet, when I hit traffic and had to back off. I’m happy enough with 13th position on the grid, but it would have been nice to have finished that last lap properly, which would probably have put me one row higher.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“I think Livio has learnt a lot this year already, and it was good to see him putting those lessons into practice today. His pace increased by more than a second in free practice, just because he was in with a fast group for most of the session. He carried that pace into qualifying, where he secured his best grid position of the season so far. If he races cleverly tomorrow then he could be in with an outside chance of a top ten finish. Scott qualified well today, on a bike that was visibly down on power. Mika had other issues with the bike, but he also commented that he didn’t have the top speed he’d normally expect here. This is something we need to investigate tonight, as Moto2 is tough enough without giving away 10 km/h, like in Scott’s case, on the straight.”