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).