Pol Espargaro and Brad Binder line up 4th and 6th for the #EmiliaRomagnaGP
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pol Espargaro and Brad Binder posted the 4th and 6th quickest lap-times in Q2 for the Gran Premio TISSOT dell’Emilia Romagna e della Riviera di Rimini Saturday afternoon and improved their chances for more 2020 silverware at Misano.
MotoGP roared into action once more for the second race at the flat and challenging Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli. The Gran Premio TISSOT dell’Emilia Romagna e della Riviera di Rimini represented round seven of the year for the premier class and another rush at Misano only three days after the mid-season IRTA test.
The Red Bull KTM quartet benefitted from the extra laps and around the twisty coastal layout and Brad Binder was fastest after the two opening Free Practice sessions on Friday as Pol Espargaro and Miguel Oliveira also took residence in the top eight. On Saturday the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing duo went direct to Q2 while a crash for Oliveira in FP3 was a setback that meant the Portuguese dropped into Q1.
Espargaro also went into the gravel in FP3 but pushed the limit in the final seconds of Q2 to make 4th place: just two tenths of a second from Pole Position and six thousandths of a second from the front row. Binder was also decisive and demonstrated remarkable progression from his efforts seven days previously. The South African was over a second faster and fully earned his berth of 6th, meaning the rookie is ten places better-off compared to the last race day at Misano. It is his best MotoGP qualification to-date.
Red Bull KTM Tech3 racer Iker Lecuona found a good pace in Q1 to be in contention for the cut to Q2 but was edged out in the final minutes. The 20-year old Spaniard is 13th on the grid and two spots ahead of Oliveira. Another 27 laps of hot, relentless competition begins at 14.00 CET on Sunday.
“I’m very happy because it was a crazy fast lap and it was difficult to put it all together. There was a lot of risk today. In the end the fast lap came through taking chances through those left corners and I ‘sent it’ through the last sector. I did not care so much about crashing, I wanted the lap. I’m happy we got the time, but we also had an amazing performance with our rhythm in FP4 and this is what matters for tomorrow’s race.”
“Much better. Much happier with qualifying today and to be in 6th place is fantastic. Not only is the rhythm better but also the lap-time: 1.2 seconds faster. In the second exit of FP2 we made some changes that gave me a little bit more feedback from the front tire as well as a little bit more support on the rear, so I felt stronger and it gave me the opportunity to push a bit harder. The more I pushed the better I felt, so it was good. I’m not really setting a goal on positions tomorrow. All I know is that starting in 6th position is going to be much nicer than last week. Starting in 16th was so tough. I’m happy with the steps we have made so hats-off to the boys for getting everything ready and we’ll try to have a solid race tomorrow.”
“In FP3 I struggled and found it difficult to improve my lap time but finally, in FP4 we worked really well with used and harder tires, which made me truly confident for the Qualifying. I was so close to the Q2. I have to say, that I’m very happy anyway. I have a good feeling for tomorrow, we have a good pace for the race, so I’m looking forward to it.”
“It was not the best Qualifying for us. After this morning’s crash I lost a bit of feeling and I also hurt my right shoulder. In any case, we went faster than the whole weekend, so we must be happy for that. We have a hard race ahead tomorrow. We know that we are going to suffer a bit, especially because we start from behind. We can only take what we can, score the maximum amount of points possible and make a clever race. It’s a shame because we improved our speed a lot from last weekend to this one.”