Dani Pedrosa Wins MotoGP Pole Position In Barcelona

Factory and satellite Ducati riders fill four of the top seven grid positions at Catalunya.

Dani Pedrosa on pole
A winner at the Spanish circuit in MotoGP, 250s, and 125s, Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa will be joined on the front row by Ducati riders Jorge Lorenzo and Danilo Petrucci.Photo: Repsol Honda

Catalan GP Qualifying Results 1. Dani PEDROSA (26) Repsol Honda Team HONDA 2. Jorge LORENZO (99) Ducati Team DUCATI 3. Danilo PETRUCCI (9) OCTO Pramac Racing DUCATI 4. Marc MARQUEZ (93), Repsol Honda Team HONDA 5. Aleix ESPARGARO (41) Aprilia Racing Team Gresini APRILIA 6. Hector BARBERA (8) Reale Avintia Racing DUCATI 7. Andrea DOVIZIOSO (4) Ducati Team DUCATI 8. Jonas FOLGER (94) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YAMAHA 9. Maverick VIÑALES (25) Movistar Yamaha MotoGP YAMAHA 10. Alvaro BAUTISTA (19) Pull&Bear Aspar Team DUCATI 11. Scott REDDING (45) Octo Pramac Racing DUCATI 12. Andrea IANNONE (29) Team Suzuki Ecstar SUZUKI 13. Valentino ROSSI (46) Movistar Yamaha MotoGP YAMAHA 14. Johann ZARCO (5) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YAMAHA 15. Jack MILLER (43) Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS HONDA 16. Loris BAZ (76) Reale Avintia Racing DUCATI 17. Cal CRUTCHLOW (35) LCR Honda HONDA 18. Karel ABRAHAM (17) Pull&Bear Aspar Team DUCATI 19. Tito RABAT (53) Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS HONDA 20. Pol ESPARGARO (44) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 21. Sam LOWES (22) Aprilia Racing Team Gresini APRILIA 22. Silvain GUINTOLI (50) Team Suzuki Ecstar SUZUKI 23. Bradley SMITH (38) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM

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Jorge Lorenzo has now qualified on the front row at Catalunya nine times consecutively. With four minutes remaining the session, he was on provisional pole with Pedrosa second.Photo: Ducati Team

Participation in a private test held in late May at Circuit of Catalunya-Barcelona has thus far played a crucial role in the outcome of this weekend's Grand Prix of Catalunya, Round 7 of the MotoGP World Championship.

On Saturday afternoon, Dani Pedrosa posted the quickest time of the weekend, a 1:43.870, to earn pole position for Sunday's 25-lap race. Ducati-mounted Jorge Lorenzo (1:44.201) and Danilo Petrucci (1:44.220) will join the Repsol Honda rider on the front row of the grid.

Neither current points leader Maverick Vinales nor last year’s race winner, Valentino Rossi, took part in the aforementioned test. On Saturday in qualifying, the factory Yamaha duo were only able to manage ninth and 13th, respectively.

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Danilo Petrucci, Octo Pramac RacingPhoto: MotoGP
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Marc Marquez, Repsol HondaPhoto: MotoGP
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Jonas Folger, Monster Yamaha Tech 3Photo: MotoGP

In fact, Tech 3’s Jonas Folger, eighth quickest, one spot ahead of Movistar rider Vinales, was the top Yamaha qualifier. Both Folger and Vinales were forced to claw their way through the first of two 15-minute qualifying sessions.

“It’s really a big advantage when you do a test beforehand,” said Michelin’s Nicolas Goubert. “In Le Mans, for example, Yamaha went before the race to do some testing and they won. At Mugello, Ducati went 10 days before and they won the race.

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia
Aleix Espargaro will start fifth on the Aprilia. “I am happy with the feeling I have on the bike,” he said. “I have a good pace and on this track, with such little grip, anything could happen.”Photo: MotoGP

“The first session [on Friday] was difficult because we had a little bit of rain so it wasn’t very useful to set up the bike. Then, a little bit different layout the second day, which made the time to set up the bikes very short. That’s why I think the Yamahas are struggling.”

The “different layout” to which Goubert referred is the Turns 14 and 15 chicane, which had previously been altered to the Formula 1 spec following the death last year of Moto2 rider Luis Salom. Crews labored overnight to restore the changes.

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Jorge Lorenzo, Ducati TeamPhoto: Ducati Team

“The riders said the work wasn’t done in the right way and there were a lot of bumps,” said Dorna representative Loris Capirossi. “We saw during practice a lot of crashes, where the bike remained on the track and at the exit of the corner, and that’s very dangerous.”

That modification didn’t stop riders from crashing in other sections of the racetrack. Marc Marquez led the way with four falls, none of which resulted in injury. His third slip came with less than 10 minutes remaining in Qualifying 2.

Marc Marquez crash
Marquez crash sequencePhoto: MotoGP
Marquez crash sequence
Marquez crash sequencePhoto: MotoGP
Marquez crash sequence
Marquez crash sequencePhoto: MotoGP
Marquez crash sequence
Marquez crash sequencePhoto: MotoGP

Marquez’s second machine was already under cover in the team garage, too beat up to fix in time for Q2. With a new footpeg and a fresh rear tire, however, the 24-year-old Spaniard was actually able to improve his time and finish fourth. He fell again with seconds remaining in the session.

Alvaro Bautista
Alvaro Bautista, Pull&Bear Aspar TeamPhoto: MotoGP
Alvaro Bautista crash
Bautista crash.Photo: MotoGP

“When the temperature gets so high, the front tire moves a lot,” Marquez said. “But I was at my home GP, so I gave it my all and tried 100 percent. I crashed, but we’ll start from fourth, which isn’t that bad. If I’m able to keep calm and ride more smoothly, we’ll be okay.”

“Barcelona is always quite a challenge because of the layout first of all and then the track surface is getting old,” Goubert said. “It’s very abrasive on the tires, and the grip level is very low. Plus, track temperature was over 50 degrees.”

Lorenzo was one of four Ducati riders to qualify in the top seven spots. The five-time world champion could be seen braking hard and late entering corners, rear end of the factory GP17 wagging in the air, quite unlike his traditional high corner-speed style.

Bradley Smith
Bradley Smith crashed in practice on Saturday, sustaining an injury to his little finger that will prevent him from participating further in this weekend’s racing.Photo: MotoGP

“We had the pace in some races but in qualifying we couldn’t stay in the first row,” Lorenzo said. “We did something in Jerez and made the podium. At Mugello, we led the race and here, first time on the first row.”

Petrucci is likewise on a roll, the OCTO Pramac rider earning a podium finish last week at Mugello and in Barcelona, his first premier-class front-row start. “It’s very, very hot,” he said. “Tomorrow will be difficult, especially because tire consumption will be high.

Maverick Vinales
After qualifying, Maverick Vinales returned to his pit box, his body language clearly indicating how frustrating this weekend has been thus far for the MotoGP points leader.Photo: MotoGP
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As usual, FP3 was a shootout to determine who would advance to Qualifying 2. FP4, meanwhile, was an opportunity to work on race pace. Valentino Rossi was fifth.Photo: MotoGP

“I made two or three mistakes—not really mistakes, but I go wide in some corners. I lose the tire three times, and I say, ‘Okay, I finish the job.’ We will see tomorrow. Hopefully, a top five will be possible. The podium will be very difficult.”

Pedrosa qualified on pole earlier this season at Jerez and won that race. “We were trying a lot of things today—settings and tires,” he said. “Tire life is very important, so we are focused on it. This is a track that is difficult to control, but we will try to manage.”

Conditions on Sunday are expected to be worse. As Marquez said on Thursday, choosing the best tire will be crucial. “The weather forecast is very hot,” Goubert said. “Some guys will go with the hard, some will go with the medium—maybe a mixed choice between front and rear.”

Vinales will surely toss and turn in his bed tonight. “I tried many setups today and nothing is working—not even our basic setup,” he said. “I will try my best.” Translation: This is a disaster. If I can score points on Sunday, I’ll be happy.

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Hector Barbera, Reale Avintia RacingPhoto: MotoGP
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Andrea Dovizioso, Ducati TeamPhoto: Ducati Team