Team Suzuki Press Office – October 22.
Aleix Espargaró – 4th
Maverick Viñales – 13th
Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s Aleix Espargaró will start tomorrow’s Michelin® Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Phillip Island from the second row after qualifying fourth this afternoon, while team mate Maverick Viñales was unlucky to miss-out on a place in Q2.
The tricky weather played a heavy role in today’s sessions with the conditions very variable from minute to minute. The decision of the Race Commission to extend this morning’s FP3 to one hour didn’t help so much, as the conditions changed at least five or six times from dry to wet and back in the hour. This made the management of the session very difficult and a matter of intuition and luck. In these uncertain conditions, Espargaró managed to get-in a couple of good laps with intermediate tyres, securing direct access to Q2. But it was bad luck for Viñales, who struggled to find a good window in the weather and finished 11th and only 0.064s from qualifying.
The afternoon’s conditions didn’t improve and the session was hit by heavy rain, making it impossible to develop a configuration for the race. It was the same for Q1, where Viñales couldn’t do better than the third time, therefore classifying 13th on tomorrow’s grid. Espargaró had better luck, the Spaniard managed to find a good set-up with intermediate tyres for the first run in Q2 and was very close to the top. At the second run for the time attack, he could only change the rear tyre to a slick and so his performance was not at 100% and he missed the first row on the very last lap.
Davide Brivio – Team Manager:
“It’s been a really hard day, and we managed to succeed only from one half. Aleix managed to exploit the situation classifying in fourth, to start in the front will be important because he could try to stay with the leaders and fight for the podium.
But unfortunately with Maverick we missed the Q2 in FP3 by only 64 thousands of a second, and again by less than three tenths in Q1. He will need to start from 13th, but nothing is compromised yet. He has a very good feeling with this track, although we couldn’t yet try in full dry I think his pace can be very good in those conditions, so if we manage to find a good set-up for the warm-up tomorrow we could really reverse his situation.”
“I’m very happy for this classification, the day had been very hard and was not easy at all to interpret the track. Also, I needed a bit of luck, but I could find the good spot to stay in the track and score a good time to get into the Q2. Then in qualifying I tried to give all my best, we ran with the intermediate tyre and I could be fast, then when I got back for the tyre change it was too late for changing both tyres; I went only for the rear slick and could improve, but not enough. Tomorrow it’s going to be a crazy race, neither we or others have references as we haven’t had one complete session with consistent conditions. I’ll try to attack at the very beginning and stay up with leaders, although the real race will probably start around lap 15, with the tyre drop and a more defined situation with pace.”
“It’s been a very hard day, the conditions changed so many times and it was also a matter of luck to find the good spot to score a good lap time. The few laps I could do in consistent conditions, either dry or wet, gave me very positive feelings, but with mixed track conditions it’s really hard to ride. If we had better conditions I could have been much more competitive, I managed to enjoy this fantastic circuit even in these conditions so imagine what it was if we had dry conditions, but at the end of the day we still have some options for tomorrow to try. I must say also that in the grid I am very close to my direct competitors in the Championship, so I’m expecting a fierce battle also being the catching up group.”
MICHELIN® AUSTRALIAN MOTORCYCLE GRAND PRIX Q2:
1 Marc MARQUEZ – Repsol Honda Team – 1’30.189
2 Cal CRUTCHLOW – LCR Honda – 1’30.981 + 0.792
3 Pol ESPARGARO – Monster Yamaha Tech 3 – 1’31.107 + 0.918
4 Aleix ESPARGARO – Team SUZUKI ECSTAR – 1’31.673 + 1.484
5 Jack MILLER – Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS – 1’31.754 + 1.565
6 Danilo PETRUCCI – OCTO Pramac Yakhnich – 1’32.420 + 2.231
7 Nicky HAYDEN – Repsol Honda Team – 1’32.944 + 2.755
8 Stefan BRADL – Aprilia Racing Team Gresini – 1’33.015 + 2.826
9 Andrea DOVIZIOSO – Ducati Team – 1’33.090 + 2.901
10 Hector BARBERA – Ducati Team – 1’33.914 + 3.725
13 Maverick VIÑALES – Team SUZUKI ECSTAR – 1’40.744 (Q1)
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