Photography by Gold & Goose
It took both his motorcycles and nearly every second of the 15-minute final qualifying session, but Marc Marquez kept his perfect 2014 pole position record intact, the World Champion breaking the lap record at the Jerez Circuit to claim his fourth pole position in four attempts.
Marquez used a different strategy to earn pole position: He used both his motorcycles. While the normal strategy is to burn through your rear tire, come into the pits and wait for your crew to change to a second tire and then go back out, Marquez had his second bike ready to go on pit lane, then his first bike was readied while he was out on the second one, thus giving him three cracks at a fast lap. And he needed all three, the Repsol Honda rider grabbing pole position on his final lap – a record-setting 1:38.120.
The lap knocked Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo from the top spot, the two-time World Champion who will turn 27 tomorrow setting his best lap on his first flying lap out of the gate – a 1:38.541. And that lap held up for Marquez’s first two attempts, his 1:38.601 second attempt just .060 of a second down on Lorenzo. But the third time was the charm and he ended up with his fifth straight pole, dating back to last season, and his fourth in a row to start the 2014 season.
“We changed a little bit our strategy in the last moment,” Marquez said on the eve of his 100th Grand Prix start. “Santi [Hernandez – his crew chief] calculate and I ask of him if it is possible and then he calculate and we saw that it was possible to stop two times and make three runs and use three tires. We just try to do the pole position because here we are in a good level and we are ready to fight for the victory, but we struggle a little bit more than at the other circuits. For that reason pole position is important. But tomorrow will be more difficult. I think Jorge [Lorenzo], and especially Dani [Pedrosa], they have a very good pace and will be a tough race.”
Marquez’s teammate Pedrosa will complete the front row of the grid for tomorrow’s Spanish Grand Prix, the man who lies second in the title chase (19 points behind Marquez) just .089 of a second behind Lorenzo and .510 of a second behind Marquez.
“It was tough because you had only the first lap good for the tire,” Pedrosa said. “Actually I could make it on the second one of the second tire and improve a little bit my lap time. I was not able to get close to pole, but happy with the front row and a little bit better today on the race pace and race setup and looking better than yesterday. We have to wait for tomorrow’s condition, but hope to do a good race.”
Lorenzo was pleased with his race simulation in the final practice session this morning and it gives him confidence for the race.
“We are very satisfied with the pace we make in the Free Practice 4 because I feel again very focused on the bike and very well physically,” said Lorenzo, who will make his 200th GP start tomorrow. “In the qualifying, I make a very good lap in the first try, but in the second one I couldn’t improve my lap time. I think second place is a good position for tomorrow. I think we more or less the same as in Argentina, maybe a little better so I am pleased.”
Lorenzo’s teammate Valentino Rossi will head row two, the Italian .737 off Marquez’s pole position lap. He will be joined on the second row by NGM Forward Racing’s Aleix Espargaro, the Spaniard crashing on his second attempt at a good lap in Q2. Andrea Dovizioso will fill row two on the factory Ducati.
LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl and the two Monster Tech 3 Yamahas of Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith will make up the third row of the grid.
NGM Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards, who made it directly to Q2, ended up 11th with Nicky Hayden besting Q1 to make it through to Q2. Hayden will start tomorrow’s race from 12th on the grid.
Final MotoGP Qualifying Results
Circuit de Jerez
May 3, 2014
1. Marc Marquez (Honda) 1:38.120
2. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:38.541
3. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:38.630
4. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1:38.857
5. Aleix Espargaro (Yamaha) 1:39.007
6. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 1:39.222
7. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 1:39.243
8. Pol Espargaro (Yamaha) 1:39.293
9. Bradley Smith (Yamaha) 1:39.390
10. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 1:39.751
11. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1:39.814
12. Nicky Hayden (Honda) 1:39.826