Fifth row of the grid for Espargaro in weather-hit Motegi Qualification

MotoGP 2019 - Round 16, Twin Ring Motegi Circuit (JPN)
Pol Espargaro KTM RC16 MotoGP Japan 2019

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MotoGP began the first of three races in a row with the hard braking and acceleration of the Twin Ring Motegi circuit. The Motul Grand Prix of Japan brought the series to the distinctive 4.8km venue for the twenty-first time and the sixteenth round of the season was marred by difficult weather conditions.

Low temperatures affected grip and speed on Friday and then heavy rain washed out the circuit for Free Practice 3 Saturday morning. Pol Espargaro, closing on full fitness less than four weeks after surgery on his left radius, tackled Q1 as the asphalt began to dry and permitted the use of slick tyres between the damp patches. His best lap was just over half a second away from making the cut to Q2.

Red Bull KTM teammate Mika Kallio negotiated his first laps at Motegi since 2015 and fought for rear grip. The Fin improved his positioning in the wet but could not rise higher than 7th in Q1 and thus sits 17th on the grid. Red Bull KTM Tech3 riders Miguel Oliveira and Hafizh Syahrin tried to hike their standing through the short Q1 session. Oliveira had suffered a heavy crash on Friday afternoon but was able to do enough to follow Espargaro and will head-up the sixth row tomorrow. Syahrin tweaked the set-up of his KTM RC16 and classified 20th overall on the day.

Pol Espargaro: “Very complicated conditions. Very crazy. In both wet and dry we were not too bad but when you have that mix and a thin dry line you have to be so exact. I made a few mistakes and didn’t have a good qualification. I felt it physically as well because you have to risk a lot. It’s been a tricky weekend so far to find grip and we’re suffering with acceleration. We are working a lot with the electronics to find an improvement. It seems like tomorrow could be a very different day with hotter temperatures.”

Mika Kallio: “Basically the whole day was better than yesterday because I was quite satisfied with the feeling I had with the tyres. It has been a tricky point for me in the last races: I struggled to get the best out of them, especially the rear. Now for whatever reason it was working better today and it gave me a better feeling on the bike. It was important. OK, the position could be better but considering I was not that far from Pol – three tenths I think – and Miguel also I think it is not that bad. It gives a little bit of confidence that we are close to the others. The conditions were tricky and there were a few corners that were still wet. You had to take care in those places and to keep the tyres in a good temperature [range]. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

Miguel Oliveira: “Overall it has been a positive Saturday. We were quite competitive in rainy conditions, which was good. Once the track was getting dry for Qualifying it was very difficult to understand the wet points and how much risk to take. I could regain my feeling a little bit today. Due to the conditions, my shoulder hurt a bit less than yesterday, so I think we are on a decent line to do a good race tomorrow and finish inside the points.”

Hafizh Syahrin: “Day two was a lot better. We made an improvement on the bike, but the conditions in Q1 were truly tricky. For sure, we can improve something in Warm Up tomorrow ahead of the race. We need to wait and see what the weather will do tomorrow, apparently it should be fine, so we hope I can be strong in the race, especially better than the last three rounds.”

Moto2 & Moto3

Red Bull KTM Tech3’s Marco Bezzecchi was the highest placed KTM RC12 rider through the Moto2 qualification conditions: the Italian sat in 8th place after Q2. Spaniard Iker Lecuona was 13th and one spot in front of countryman Jorge Martin as Brad Binder ran to 18th. In Moto3 Q2 Makar Yurchenko took a career-best 4th position (his previous highest qualification ranking had been a 6th) with the BOE Skull rider Mugen Race KTM. Red Bull KTM Ajo welcomed back Can Öncü after the Turk had recovered from collarbone surgery. The youngster will be 23rd on the grid for the first race of the Grand Prix.
Races: October 19th, 2019 – Moto3 05.00 | Moto2 06.20 | MotoGP 08.00 CET

Results Qualifying MotoGP Twin Ring Motegi Circuit 2019

1. Marc Marquez (ESP), Honda 1:45.763
2. Franco Morbidelli (ITA), Yamaha +0.132
3. Fabio Quartararo (FRA), Yamaha +0.181
4. Maverick Viñales (ESP), Yamaha +0.327
5. Cal Crutchlow (GBR) Honda +0.426
15. Pol Espargaro (ESP), Red Bull KTM 1:47.654 (Q1)
16. Miguel Oliveira (POR), Red Bull KTM Tech3 1:47.894 (Q1)
17. Mika Kallio (FIN), Red Bull KTM 1:47.979 (Q1)
20. Hafizh Syahrin (MYS), Red Bull KTM Tech3 1:48.522 (Q1)

Results Qualifying Moto2 Twin Ring Motegi Circuit 2019

1. Luca Marini (ITA) Kalex 2:00.985
2. Augusto Fernandez (ESP) Kalex +1.148
3. Lorenzo Baldassarri (ITA) Kalex +1.227
8. Marco Bezzecchi (ITA) Red Bull KTM Tech3 +1.573
14. Jorge Martin (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo +2.092
18. Brad Binder (RSA) Red Bull KTM Ajo +4.978

Results Qualifying Moto3 Twin Ring Motegi Circuit 2019

1. Niccolo Antonelli (ITA) Honda 2:09.293
2. Alonso Lopez (ESP) Honda +0.086
3. Tatsuki Suzuki (JPN) Honda +0.333
4. Makar Yurchenko (KAZ) KTM +0.401
23. Can Öncü (TUR) Red Bull KTM Ajo (Q1) 2:11.547

Press & PR Manager
Sebastian Kuhn
+43 676 599 0084

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