Motorsports Blog

17 May 2014

Fifth pole in a row for Marquez

Another venue, another qualifying record destroyed - just another day at the office for MM93

Amaan Ahmed
Car image



Dani Pedrosa's MotoGP qualifying record at Le Mans stood for six years. He'd gone around the circuit in 1:32:647 back in 2008, a record that was out of reach for all other riders for well over half a decade. But all it took today was one flying lap from Marc Marquez to make Pedrosa's long-standing record time look slow. It'd be a surprise to see a record fall so easily, but what else can one expect from the impeccable record-breaker that Marquez has become?

Repsol Honda's No.1 rider, having recently extended his contract with the team till the end of 2016, took no time to grab pole position, smashing Pedrosa's lap record on his very first run. He ran off the track on his second lap, headed back to the pits, swapped bikes and went for another run, this time shaving half a second off his previous lap time to confirm his fifth consecutive pole for the season.

The biggest surprise of the session came in the form of Pol Espargaro. While all eyes were transfixed on other riders' times, the 2013 Moto2 champion snuck in a blisteringly quick lap to take second, and secure his first-ever front row start in the premier class. Andrea Dovizioso's second attempt with an extra soft rear tyre worked wonders, as he repeated his 2013 effort at Le Mans and took third.

Stefan Bradl picked up fourth, ahead of Valentino Rossi (who was actually targeting fifth place) and Jorge Lorenzo, who landed P1 after his first lap, but was unable to keep up with Marquez later on. Alvaro Bautista and Aleix Espargaro are placed on the third row ahead of Dani Pedrosa, who was visibly struggling, having undergone an arm pump surgery after the last race. He'd won at Le Mans last year, but it'll take a Herculean effort from him to even break into the top three this time around. Still, word in the pit lane was that he was avoiding wearing out his arm today, so tomorrow may bring a surprise.

Pol Espargaro's teammate Bradley Smith didn't have as impressive an outing, as he could only take tenth. Andrea Iannone did pretty well, consistently threatening to break into the top three, and he did take second place briefly, only for Race Direction to notice that he'd taken a bit of a shortcut, and cancel his lap time. He'll now start eleventh, which also means he'll have a fellow Ducati rider alongside him in Cal Crutchlow.

It should be a close race, going by the minimal gaps between rider times in Q2, but it seems unlikely that Marquez will be denied a fifth win on the trot. However, a Tech 3 Yamaha bike did finish second last year. Crutchlow piloted it then, and Pol Espargaro's on it now. Will he be able to take the fight to the all-conquering, record-shattering world champion?

Qualifying
:
1. Marc Marquez
2. Pol Espargaro
3. Andrea Dovizioso
4. Stefan Bradl
5. Valentino Rossi
6. Jorge Lorenzo
7. Alvaro Bautista
8. Aleix Espargaro
9. Dani Pedrosa
10. Bradley Smith
11. Andrea Iannone
12. Cal Crutchlow
13. Nicky Hayden
14. Yonny Hernandez
15. Colin Edwards
16. Scott Redding
17. Hiroshi Aoyama
18. Karel Abraham
19. Hector Barbera
20. Broc Parkes
21. Michael Laverty
22. Mike Di Meglio

Tags: pol espargaro, tech 3, dovizioso, ducati, yamaha, valentino rossi, jorge lorenzo, le mans, moto gp, motogp, marquez, marc marquez