Monster Yamaha Tech3 team rider Pol Espagaro delivered a highly impressive performance in qualifying today which will see him begin the Tech3 team’s home Grand Prix from the head of the second row. The Spaniard started the day with a brilliant showing in FP3, which left him third overall by the close of the session and only 0.134 back from the leading time. This strong result meant that Espargaro automatically qualified for Q2 and here, he got straight up to speed before blitzing to a time that left him only 0.086 from second position. Today’s fourth place leaves the former Moto2 World Champion fully primed to clinch a top tier finish at the Monster Energy sponsored Grand Prix.
Meanwhile, Bradley Smith superbly sealed a starting position at the rear of the second row for tomorrow’s race after reaping the rewards of his hard work from yesterday. He kicked off the day by completing 21 laps in FP3 and then set his best time on the final run which confirmed 9th and allowed him to progress instantly through to qualifying 2. Here, Smith immediately got to work and after building up his speed, he powered to his personal best on lap seven. The result sees him repeat his qualifying placement from last year, and tomorrow the young Briton will seek to battle to the top independent rider position in front of the Tech3 fans.
Position: 4th - Time: 1'32.502 - Laps: 8
"It's a really positive feeling to get back on the second row as I have had to wait since Aragon last season. Having said that, I feel that we definitely deserve it this weekend for the performances that we have shown in all the sessions. Yet, we have to bear in mind that tomorrow will be another story. However, the good thing is that by starting from the second row of the grid, we have a better chance of following the factory riders for at least the first part of the race, which means I can learn from them and enjoy the riding. Furthermore, I really like the new Michelin tyres because they allow me to ride my bike how I want to and the times come more easily for me which of course, gives me confidence. It goes without saying that it's a pity that we just missed out on the front row by only 0.033 of a second but there are a lot of the Factory guys behind me and this is what we will also aim for tomorrow. Therefore, I will try to get a good start and then fight all the way to the chequered flag in order to give the French fans and the Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team something to cheer about."
Position: 6th - Time: 1'32.820 - Laps: 8
"First of all, it was great to go directly through to Q2 and it was the first time this year that we’ve achieved this, so I think the team added another year to their lives because Q1 is obviously quite stressful! All day we’ve slowly been improving the bike and I’m feeling more comfortable all the time. With every lap I’m learning and getting faster so even though we still need to make some final adjustments for the race, I believe that we have a strong base setting. In terms of the result, I can’t really be any happier as we have turned around what has been a difficult first four races. To be on the second row at the team’s home Grand Prix which is also sponsored by our title backer, Monster Energy, is great. It gives me a fantastic opportunity to start well tomorrow and then try to gain some more knowledge from fighting with the front guys. I believe the race will be another learning experience for me because of the new setting, which I haven’t tried on a long run yet, and also the tyres but I will be as prepared as possible. Anyway, the team did a fantastic job and they’ve had a lot of patience during these opening events, so to finally reward them and get back to where we need to be is super and I must give a big thanks to them. I am ready for the team’s home race and tomorrow will be 28 laps of fighting to get that top satellite position."