There was excitement until the closing stages once again in the qualifying session for the Australian Grand Prix, in which Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo battled for pole position until the very last moment. In the end, the best time of the day went to Lorenzo, with Marquez on in second place and Dani Pedrosa one row behind after setting the fifth fastest time.
As happened yesterday, a crash tarnished one of the practice sessions for Marquez. He had a light fall on his fourth lap of the day, losing the front end on the slow Turn 10 at Phillip Island. However, the incident did not slow him down and he finished second in the morning session, 48 milliseconds off Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa –who had improved upon his times from Friday to clock a 1’29.074.
In the final practice session, Pedrosa took another step forward, lowering the 1’29 barrier to head the timesheets with a time of 1’28.959. Marquez was third, behind Jorge Lorenzo.
When looking for the best position on the grid for tomorrow, Marquez came out strong in his quest for a ninth pole of the season. Lorenzo took the lead, but with his last tyre, Marquez snuck into first with a time of 1’28.120. Finally, Lorenzo dropped a further 0.221s to take pole.
Today’s hot topic has been tyre degradation as it has emerged that both harder option tyres are suffering badly on this new asphalt. The Moto2 class are also experiencing problems and Race Direction have decreased the number of race laps to thirteen in order to allow for this issue.
For the MotoGP class, the race has been shortened to 26 laps with a restriction limiting no more than 14 consecutive laps –for the first time a flag-to-flag race under dry conditions, with riders changing the bike at least once to align with Race Direction’s decision.
Tomorrow Marquez will have his first opportunity to make history and seal the 2013 MotoGP World Championship.
“I’ll make no excuses; Qualifying didn’t go well for us and I was not able to go fast. However, the practice sessions have been positive for us. Now we have been told that Race Direction have taken a decision to make the race 26 laps with a flag-to-flag. I don’t think this is the best option but this is the scenario so we will do our best to prepare for it.”
“The goal today was to get a front row start for tomorrow, and we achieved it. We knew that Jorge [Lorenzo] and Valentino [Rossi] would be very fast over a single lap with the new soft tyre compound, something that they showed today. Jorge, Dani [Pedrosa] and Valentino have a great pace, but I think I can stick with them. After the issues with tyres the race will now be a flag-to-flag, which for me is the first time so it will be interesting –even if I would have preferred a shorter race but this is the decision from Race Direction. We shall see if in the warm up we can try out some last minute things and then we will give 100%, as always.”
Source: Repsol Honda Team
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