Bike News

21 July 2013

Stefan Bradl clinches first-ever pole at Laguna Seca

Last-gasp wonder ensures the German will, for the first time ever, start a MotoGP race from pole position

Amaan Ahmed
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All of it looked very familiar. A Repsol Honda completely dominating the Free Practice sessions, and with only a few minutes for Q2 to draw to a close, leading the timesheets as well. Till the time a German came along on a satellite LCR Honda bike, and snatched top spot with mere seconds to go.

Yes, after many, many, many attempts, Stefan Bradl finally notched up his first-ever MotoGP pole position, becoming the first German rider to start a MotoGP race from pole, and also the first satellite motorcycle rider to register a pole at Laguna Seca in the process. For those of you unfamiliar with the term 'satellite', a satellite team is like a factory team's cousin that uses a motorcycle from the year gone by, and receives tech updates only after the factory team has utilised them. Ill-treated cousin? Sort of.

Up until the closing minutes of Q2, it looked like Marc Marquez would claim yet another pole, even though he suffered a low-side crash at Turn 6 with a few minutes left in the session. Bradl went on to put up a scorching lap time in the last minute to edge past Marquez, who will now start his first race at the famous racetrack from 2nd place on the grid, ahead of yet another satellite rider, Gresini Honda's Alvaro Bautista in 3rd place.

Following closely are two Yamahas, the Factory Racing example ridden by Valentino Rossi, which slots into fourth place, and Tech3's Cal Crutchlow - who crashed during qualifying yet again - this time an embarrassingly slow tumble, and could only manage to put in a lap time good enough to get him the fifth spot on the grid. The Spaniards with wonky collarbones, Lorenzo and Pedrosa (with Pedrosa staying away from Practice, and Lorenzo earlier having stated he would only return after the summer break) staged comebacks, and endured great pain to qualify in sixth and seventh place respectively.

Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso secured eighth, with Bradley Smith right behind him. Nicky Hayden, who announced that this is his final year with Ducati earlier this week, qualified 10th, with CRT rider Aleix Espargaro in 11th, followed by Randy De Puniet in 12th.

Will Bradl be able convert his pole start into a much-cherished maiden MotoGP victory, or will the other Hondas on the front row ruin the German's party? Remember, there's two Yamahas and two hurting title contenders right behind looking to do exactly the same...

Qualifying:
1. Stefan Bradl
2. Marc Marquez
3. Alvaro Bautista
4. Valentino Rossi
5. Cal Crutchlow
6. Jorge Lorenzo
7. Dani Pedrosa
8. Andrea Dovizioso
9. Bradley Smith
10. Nicky Hayden
11. Aleix Espargaro
12. Randy De Puniet
13. Hector Barbera
14. Alex De Angelis
15. Colin Edwards
16. Danilo Petrucci   
17. Claudio Corti
18. Yonny Hernandez
19. Karel Abraham
20. Michael Laverty   
21. Hiroshi Aoyama   
22. Bryan Staring
23. Lukas Pesek

Tags: stefan bradl, laguna seca, moto gp, motogp

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