Photography by Gold & Goose
The streak is over. In MotoGP qualifying Saturday at Catalunya Dani Pedrosa won his first pole of the season, while Marc Marquez saw his perfect pole streak of six for six on the season ended after he crashed out in turn one late in the session as he made his final stab at winning the pole. For Pedrosa it marked his first pole since this race last year.
Pedrosa was thrilled with winning the pole. On his cool-down lap he was waving to the fans and smiling, having just cracked, albeit ever so slightly, the seeming invincibility of Marquez.
“It’s very special to be back on pole,” said Pedrosa, who now lays claim to 27-career poles. “It’s a really special one because it’s here in front of the fans and in front of the family. Really also it was a long time. I had a good feeling already on the first tire and I could push quite well on the second one also. I tried to make no mistakes, in spite I did one, but was able to manage to do a good lap time and finally be on pole. It’s good. So now focus on tomorrow and trying to do a good race here in front of the fans.”
Overshadowed by Pedrosa’s pole and Marquez’ fall was the solid effort turned in by Lorenzo. He focused his efforts this weekend on prepping for the race.
“Before qualifying in Free Practice 4 I made a very good simulation of the race,” Lorenzo said. “We’ve got a good setting, because here with this tarmac it’s much more slippery than Mugello and much more bumpy. It’s difficult to make a stable bike, especially in this condition. But finally we more or less made it. I think we have some margin. In qualifying I just tried to make a perfect lap. I think I made very good lap times, especially with the braking – I brake very, very hard. So a good second place in qualifying. We’ll see if we can fight for the win like in Mugello.”
It seemed almost surreal to see Marquez make his first big mistake of the season. Ironically it was Marquez himself, just a few days ago in a pre-race press conference, who insisted in MotoGP it is nearly impossible to be perfect and that mistakes were bound to happen. Marquez was unhurt in the crash and responded to the fans with a big smile when they cheered for him for walking away from the crash.
Marquez’ first tumble of 2014 came when he tucked the front at right hand turn one with under a minute to go in the final Q2 qualifying session. In spite of the fall he will start on the front row in third, alongside Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo.
In spite of the fall Marquez was his typical upbeat self in the press conference. Perhaps indication today’s fall may be only a temporary respite for his competitors. He admitted trying to pitch his bike into the turn, even though he was carrying too much speed.
“I want to say sorry for my team because it was completely my fault,” Marquez explained of his crash. “I know that it was last lap and I know that I brake too late. It was last lap but I tried to go in anyway. It was not possible. But we have a good pace and I think before I felt so good with the bike. Also from the very first practice I felt good, but this race we couldn’t get the pole position, but we are on the front row and we are ready for tomorrow for fight. It will be a tough race because Lorenzo and Dani they have a really good pace, but we will try to be there and fight on the last laps.”
Marquez held P1 for much of the early going setting a time of 1:41.135, but then with about four minutes to go it was his Repsol Honda teammate Pedrosa going to the front, the first to break into the 40s with a 1:40.985. Lorenzo fought hard with just over a minute to go to displace Marquez to move to second with a 1:41.1.
Then the Marquez crash. He was braking aggressively into turn one, his Honda wiggling back and forth in protest. Then just as he flicked the bike to the right, the front wheel tucked, smoke coming off the tire and suddenly he was down. Fortunately for Marquez, even though it was a fairly high-speed get off, it was a lowside and he reported afterwards that he was unhurt.
Stefan Bradl will head row two, starting alongside Valentino Rossi and Aleix Espargaro.
Nicky Hayden did make qualifying; nursing his just operated on wrist, and will start from the inside of row six. Fellow American Colin Edwards will start next to Hayden after qualifying 17th.
MotoGP qualifying from Catalunya – Saturday, June 14, 2014
1. Dani Pedrosa ESP Repsol Honda Team (RC213V) 1m 40.985s [Lap 5/7] 342km/h (Top Speed)
2. Jorge Lorenzo ESP Movistar Yamaha MotoGP (YZR-M1) 1m 41.100s +0.115s [6/7] 339km/h
3. Marc Marquez ESP Repsol Honda Team (RC213V) 1m 41.135s +0.150s [2/7] 344km/h
4. Stefan Bradl GER LCR Honda MotoGP (RC213V) 1m 41.220s +0.235s [6/8] 344km/h
5. Valentino Rossi ITA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP (YZR-M1) 1m 41.290s +0.305s [7/7] 342km/h
6. Aleix Espargaro ESP NGM Forward Racing (Forward Yamaha) 1m 41.308s +0.323s [5/6] 335km/h
7. Andrea Dovizioso ITA Ducati Team (Desmosedici) 1m 41.337s +0.352s [5/6] 343km/h
8. Bradley Smith GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 (YZR-M1) 1m 41.491s +0.506s [3/8] 341km/h
9. Yonny Hernandez COL Pramac Racing (Desmosedici) 1m 41.671s +0.686s [7/7] 345km/h
10. Pol Espargaro ESP Monster Yamaha Tech 3 (YZR-M1) 1m 41.677s +0.692s [7/7] 336km/h
11. Andrea Iannone ITA Pramac Racing (Desmosedici) 1m 41.751s +0.766s [3/8] 342km/h
12. Alvaro Bautista ESP Go&Fun Honda Gresini (RC213V) 1m 42.024s +1.039s [4/4] 342km/h
13. Cal Crutchlow GBR Ducati Team (Desmosedici) 1m 42.578s
14. Scott Redding GBR Go&Fun Honda Gresini (RCV1000R) 1m 42.730s
15. Michele Pirro ITA Ducati Team (Desmosedici) 1m 42.955s
16. Nicky Hayden USA Drive M7 Aspar (RCV1000R) 1m 43.043s
17. Colin Edwards USA NGM Forward Racing (Forward Yamaha) 1m 43.226s
18. Karel Abraham CZE Cardion AB Motoracing (RCV1000R) 1m 43.360s
19. Broc Parkes AUS Paul Bird Motorsport (PBM-ART) 1m 43.530s
20. Hiroshi Aoyama JPN Drive M7 Aspar (RCV1000R) 1m 43.564s
21. Michael Laverty GBR Paul Bird Motorsport (PBM-ART) 1m 43.737s
22. Hector Barbera ESP Avintia Racing (Avintia) 1m 44.115s
23. Mike Di Meglio FRA Avintia Racing (Avintia) 1m 45.012s
24. Michel Fabrizio ITA IodaRacing Project (ART) 1m 46.214s