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Morbidelli Battles Back to Claim Front Row Start at Jerez

Morbidelli Battles Back to Claim Front Row Start at Jerez

Second for Franco Morbidelli in SpanishGP qualifying, Valentino Rossi 17th.

Despite having two lap times cancelled in FP3 and having to go through Q1, PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team’s Franco Morbidelli battled back to end Jerez qualifying in second and claim his first front row start of the year. Team-mate Valentino Rossi will start tomorrow’s SpanishGP from 17th on the grid.

Morbidelli faced a difficult route through qualifying, after having two laps cancelled for exceeding track limits in FP3. Although the Italian originally thought he was through to Q2 in seventh – 1min 37.083secs – the lap deletions placed him 11th. The Italian made short work of the first qualifying session though, posting the fastest time – 1min 36.916secs – and advancing into Q2. This good form around Jerez continued, with Franco’s first Q2 lap of 1min 36.812secs putting him second. He was able to hold onto this position and ended the session just 0.057secs shy of pole.

Team-mate Rossi was immediately able to improve upon his best time from Friday’s Free Practice sessions and move himself up the order. Despite making improvements and ending FP3 0.719secs shy of the fastest rider, the Italian found himself in 15th and had to head into Q1. In qualifying, Valentino experienced electronic issues and his initial qualifying run placed him eighth in the timings. Pushing hard in the closing moments of Q1 he was able to improve his lap time to 1min 37.915secs, which saw him end the session seventh and claim a 17th place grid start in tomorrow’s race.

Tomorrow’s action will start with Warm Up at 9.20am local time (3.20pm MYT) for Morbidelli and Rossi, with the 25-lap MotoGP race bringing the SpanishGP to its conclusion at 2pm local time (8pm MYT).

Franco Morbidelli

"The feeling with the bike has been great today and I knew that if I had the right chance I could do something good. We had good potential today, but we had to go through many difficulties to get there. We were able to overcome them though and I’m really happy about that, plus the team did a great job as well today. I wanted to go all or nothing on one lap in qualifying, to be on the limit, and I ended up folding the front. I was prepared for it though and was able to recover it, which I’m really happy about. I have a good feeling going into tomorrow and I’m able to maintain my rhythm for quite a lot of laps, so I’m quite confident about what I can do. I need to see what the other riders can do but starting from the front row is good for our podium chances."

Valentino Rossi

"Today was a bit better because we modified the setting on the bike and it was an improvement. This morning my time was 0.719secs from the top position, but everyone else is also really fast so I was 15th. In the afternoon I was thinking that I could improve and do better, but unfortunately we had some electronic issues on the bike and so it was only possible for us to be 17th. I think we need to understand the conditions for the tyres, because there was some wind here today, and then try something else with the bike to hopefully be stronger tomorrow. If you have a good pace here you can overtake in the race, but it is always difficult. I don’t have a particular strategy, just get the best start possible and then see what happens."