The Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team rider Pol Espargaro will commence the first European round of the season from the middle of the third row after pulling off a strong qualifying performance today in Andalucía. The young Spaniard kicked off the day by storming to third position in FP3 after setting a lap that was only 0.191 from the leading time which therefore allowed him to graduate instantly through to QP2. Here, the 2013 Moto2 World Champion began at instant speed and set a personal best on lap seven which saw him clinch 8th after finishing only 0.140 back from fourth. Espargaro will now seek to meet the chequered flag in a top tier position to consolidate his championship placement of fourth.
On the opposite side of the garage, Bradley Smith dug deep in qualifying today and will begin the 4th round of the 2016 MotoGP World Championship from the middle of the fifth row. The 25 year old battled throughout the morning practice before eventually finishing in 14th, meaning that he would have to participate in qualifying 1. When the session started, the British star determinedly set off and after a thorough effort, he posted his personal best on his penultimate run. Tomorrow, the Tech3 rider will aim to undertake a rocket start and then fight through the field to a positive result.
Position: 8th - Time: 1'39.720 - Laps: 8
"Overall, I must say it is mission accomplished today, because the top independent position is the one that we have to achieve and having done this, we can be optimistic for the race. The top factory guys are clearly quicker but for us tomorrow, our goal has to be the leading satellite bike placement again. We made progress in this morning’s practice session but I might have to thank Marc, because I discovered some different racing lines by following him, which allowed me to increase my corner speed in several turns. In qualifying itself, I could have gone slightly quicker but I made a mistake on my fast lap and dropped a bit of time. Nevertheless, I am satisfied with what we achieved and my overall feeling with the Michelin tyres is improving at every event and I am becoming more confident. This, along with the setting of the bike, makes me feel comfortable and eager for this race, even if the setup itself is quite different from the other Yamaha’s. Anyway, I am looking forward to the GP and if we can fight with the Suzuki and Ducati’s, I will be very pleased."
Position: 14th - Time: 1'40.242 - Laps: 8
"Today we didn’t improve as much as I needed to. I thought low 1’40 lap times would have been strong enough to get into QP2, but everybody upped their game and in the end we needed a 1’39 to progress directly through to QP2. To be honest, today I was on the limit and unfortunately we didn’t find the next step with the bike. A 1’40.2 lap seems to be where I am at the moment as I did three consistent laps, once this morning and twice this afternoon, so I thought that I had extracted the best that I could from the Yamaha. Now, we have a lot of data to analyse and try to assess in preparation for tomorrow, and starting from 14th on the grid isn’t going to make the GP any easier, especially at this track. However, I’ve been practicing my starts all the weekend and they are getting better so tomorrow I need to make a special one and then pass as many riders as possible in the first few corners. From now until tomorrow we will try to improve the bike so the team will have a busy afternoon searching for the final tenths because my race pace has to be stronger too. We know that we are in a tricky situation but we’re still ready to give it everything we’ve got in the Grand Prix tomorrow and we’ll do our best until then.”