NICKY HAYDEN MAKES Q2 SHOOTOUT FOR SECOND TIME IN A ROW
American rider to start from twelfth on the grid, one place ahead of his team-mate Hiroshi Aoyama
Tomorrow's MotoGP race at Jerez looks like it could be the closest since the opening round in Qatar after a qualifying session that saw Jorge Lorenzo dominate on his Yamaha only to be usurped on the final lap by Marc Márquez's all-conquering Honda. The current World Champion has three wins from three so far this season and today he made it four pole positions from four with a late effort that saw him find four tenths of a second to clock a 1'38.120 and break the previous pole record set by Lorenzo back in 2008 (1'38.189). However, in terms of race pace both Lorenzo and Pedrosa are much closer to Márquez than their qualifying times might suggest and even Valentino Rossi will be hopeful of causing an upset tomorrow if he can make a good start.
Just like last Saturday in Argentina the DRIVE M7 Aspar pairing of Nicky Hayden and Hiroshi Aoyama battled hard to make it into the top two places in Q1 and secure a place in Q2, with the American making it thanks to a late charge on his final two laps. The Japanese also pushed hard in the final couple of laps but despite his incredible pace through the second sector of the Spanish track he lost vital time in T3 and had to settle for thirteenth place on the grid.
12th Nicky Hayden: “We managed to make a couple of improvements today that made the bike more balanced and more fun to ride. The track conditions change a lot from the morning to the afternoon and you have to really pay attention so that you don't get caught out. The team did a great job and we managed to get into Q2, which was our objective, but I am not completely happy with the performance of the front tyre. We tried the harder compound yesterday and I destroyed my leathers saving front-end crashes but the soft version is too soft for us. That limits our options so we had to be conservative in Q2. I was hoping to be closer to the factory prototypes here and to qualify further up but with the tyre situation we had to be too cautious in the second session. Anyway, in general I am happy, the bike is responding well and I think we are ready for the race.”
13th Hiroshi Aoyama: “We worked hard this morning to confirm the set-up and I felt comfortable with the lower temperatures. Like yesterday the heat went up in the afternoon and the behaviour of the bike changed as a result so we made some changes to adapt. We put some fresh tyres in at the end and I pushed hard for a lap time to get myself into Q2 and even though I didn't manage it we have improved the lap time from yesterday so we can be satisfied because we are on the right path. We are getting faster every day, the bike is reliable and I feel more comfortable every time I ride it so we are seeing the results of our hard work. From yesterday to today we have improved the stability under braking and now we need to find some more corner speed. It has been a tough day with a lot of work to get through but our performance in qualifying was positive so I am happy.”