Photography by Gold & Goose
AUSTIN, TEXAS, APR. 20 - If the debut of the new qualifying system in Qatar was electrifying, the final qualifying session at the Circuit of The Americas was anything but. What it was, however, was historic as Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez earned the first pole position of what many are predicting as a storied career, the young Spaniard dominating the proceedings with two fast laps early that no one could match.
Marquez got it rolling with early with the fastest-ever lap of the immaculate new circuit on the outskirts of Austin, a 2:03.245 that alone would have put him on pole position for tomorrow’s first-ever Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas. But there was more to come as Marquez bettered his lap, lowering his time to a 2:03.021 to beat his teammate Dani Pedrosa by .254 of a second to earn pole position in just second-ever MotoGP. Marquez also became the youngest-ever pole position winner in the premiere class of the World Championship.
“You never know because with the test the pace was quite good but you never know when you are here,” Marquez said. “Also you never know with the track not the exactly the same. Before the qualifying practice, I know I can fight for the pole, but you never know because these guys are pushing quite hard for one lap. I am happy, but the most important is tomorrow.”
Pedrosa has gained speed as the weekend has gone on and he now looks to be in a position to challenge his young teammate in tomorrow’s race.
“Today we did some improvement and the track improved a lot,” Pedrosa said. “Already the grip has improved a lot with more rubber. I’m just hoping we can get some good grip in the race and I think the bike… we are just looking for the setup, but I think it is looking a little better than in Qatar regarding the rear grip so is already a good step. But it is a hard track and we have to keep focused and get a good start and have a good race.”
Third went to Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo, the defending World Champion miscalculating with his second set of tires and not crossing the finish line quickly enough to get a flier on the new rubber. Lorenzo ended up 1.079 seconds behind Marquez and will be continuing to search for answers heading into tomorrow’s Grand Prix.
“The track improved so much and now we can ride almost like a normal track,” Lorenzo said. “We trying to modify the bike to get more grip. Qualifying was not so bad, but the lap time from the Honda for us was impossible. For the race we will try our best and in the race anything is possible…”
The second row of the grid for tomorrow’s race will be led by Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Cal Cruthlow, the Brit set to be joined there by LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl and Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso.
Row three will consist of Go & Fun’s Alvaro Bautista, Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi and Aleix Espargaro, the CRT rider continuing to impress.
Ducati’s Nicky Hayden ended the session 10th after having problems early in the session with his first set of tires.
Ben Spies rode the Pramac Ducati to the 12th best time.
1. Marc Marquez (Honda) 2:03.021
2. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 2:03.275
3. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 2:04.100
4. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 2:04.267
5. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 2:04.445
6. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 2:04.873
7. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 2:04.942
8. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 2:05.380
9. Aleix Espargaro (CRT) 2:05.389
10. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 2:05.568