The GP Commission has come up with a winning formula for qualifying, as fans get treated to not two qualifying sessions but three, because FP3 is now as exciting as qualifying, with riders going all out trying to get into the top ten and make QP2.
One of the biggest surprises on Friday was Andrea Dovizioso who finished in fifth and was just a little more than three tenths from the top of the timesheets, and what’s more surprising is that he’s making the Ducati look good, which Valentino Rossi couldn’t do in two seasons, and he’s even beating team mate Nicky Hayden who has loads of experience on the Italian machine, but the real question will be if Dovizioso be able to stick to the front after four or five laps, or at least battle with Bradl and Bautista.
Check out what the rest of the riders had to say.
Cal Crutchlow – 3rd “The track was not in a good condition again tonight and it was very dirty but I am still happy with my performance and it is good to remain inside the top three.
I was confident I’d be in the top 10 to move straight into QP2 and I am looking forward to the 15-minute session to decide places on the grid tomorrow night.
I think it will be exciting for the fans and also for us because nobody will be hanging around.
I felt comfortable on the bike again in the second session because we made a couple of changes earlier that didn’t really work.
I still need to improve in the braking zone and I’d like to improve the rear grip too, but I have been fast in every session so far and that bodes well for the race on Sunday night.
”Andrea Dovizioso – 5th “I’m very happy with the position, but I’m especially pleased with the gap to the front.
Fifth place is good, but the gap of three tenths is even better.
I didn’t expect to be so close, especially because up until this session, we didn’t really have true parameters.
In fact, this was the first faceoff with the soft tyre, and we can say that we were pretty close to the others when the tyre is new.
We still have to see how things are in race configuration, and tomorrow before qualifying, we’ll decide if we should go ahead with the soft tyre.
” Alvaro Bautista – 7th“I didn’t have a brilliant feeling tonight but the result is not bad.
We tried the hard tyre in the second session tonight but I couldn’t get a feeling for it so we went back to the soft option for the third session.
I also tried a new fork that we had been planning to use at Jerez and it felt a bit better although we need to work on the setting, especially for the braking.
We’ll try and find a bit more confidence with the front in the last thirty minutes tomorrow and hopefully find something positive.
”Nicky Hayden – 8th “It certainly wasn’t easy tonight, as conditions were changing a lot.
The wind was really strong in FP2, and there was a lot of sand on the track, but when things improved for FP3, I could push a bit harder.
I kind of treated the session like qualifying, because it’s important to advance to QP2.
My position isn’t great, but the gap to the front isn’t so bad.
We want to make the bike more controllable in the wind and improve traction on corner entry, so if we can keep working in a good way, maybe we can do well in qualifying.
It should be exciting.
”Bradley Smith – 9th“I am really happy because one of my big objectives was to make sure I was inside the top 10 tonight and straight into the second qualifying session.
Now I’ve done that I feel like it is a big achievement that I am really proud because it was not easy.
I found well over a second in the final session and to finish just over 0.
8s away from the top is a fantastic result for me.
I didn’t realize just how hard you have to push the bike to get down to that pace and it is going to be very hard to ride at that intensity for the whole race.
Credit to the other guys who run a consistently fast pace throughout the race because it is incredibly hard and something I will need to focus on improving.
My Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team did a great job tonight.
They gave me a bike that gave me a lot of confidence and that was proven in just how much faster I was in the final session.
I am less than 0.
5s away from Valentino so I am really pleased.
There’s still a lot of work to do on the race set-up but I am truly happy to be inside that top 10.
”Stefan Bradl – 10th“From the beginning of the session we worked on a race set-up on used tyres and we thought we found a good direction but, towards the end, when we fit a new rear tyre the extra grip affected the balance of our bike and I had to push the front in every corner entry.
So I was not capable to keep the corner speed and risked a crash couple of times.
But this is just the FP3 and we will have more track time tomorrow to fine-tune the bike so I am still confident”.
Andrea Iannone – 11th“Fortunately, my right forearm didn’t hurt as much during FP3, as the pain had forced me to return to the garage on the fourth lap of tonight’s first session.
I wasn’t able to control the bike, and I lacked strength.
Nonetheless, we were able to make some small changes to the bike, and they allowed me to improve quite a bit and to give a clearer idea of the direction to take.
I still don’t have much reference on this track, so I definitely need to do more laps.
”Ben Spies – 12th“I’m okay, even though tonight’s session didn’t go exactly the way we wanted.
We tried something a little bit different before our practice, and it didn’t work out.
We had to make a change during the session, which cost me some time.
We know we missed about 50% of testing due to my injury and learning a new bike, so realistically, our testing is starting now.
It was the first time that we pushed the bike hard, and I’m learning things about it.
We’re changing stuff and getting used to it, but we need more time.
The feeling with the bike is getting better every time out.
”Aleix Espargaró – 13th“The bike performance was better today, although there was some front end chatter which I guess is normal in these conditions.
For the second consecutive day I felt really good on the bike and we’re close to the top riders on one of the longest and fastest tracks in MotoGP, so that gives us great motivation to work hard throughout the rest of the weekend.
Being just 1.
3s off is a great achievement and I’m very happy.
We keep getting a bit better each day and we’re looking forward to the new qualifying format tomorrow.
I aim to keep riding at this high level.
”Randy De Puniet – 16th“Things were a bit better today but we had some of the same problems as yesterday.
Lack of rear end confidence means I’m losing speed on corner entry which affects my overall pace.
The track conditions don’t help but they are the same for everyone, so we need imrovements however they come.
Aleix is a second ahead so we need to bridge that gap.
We’ve got tomorrow to come and we won’t stop working until we find the solutions we need.
”Colin Edwards – 17th“The first session today we thought we would go ahead and try the hard tire, which is with what I raced here last year and we decided to give it a go but the track wasn’t up to par, dirty and dusty.
Didn’t get a lot accomplished, had a couple ideas and started the second session making changes to the suspension and the change we had ready from yesterday on the electronics on the throttle pickup and between those two things we made a huge step.
The bike feels comfortable now and that’s the main thing.
We got over that hump and feel good and comfortable.
Obviously we went on to use the soft, tires this afternoon, not sure if they can do the race but I don’t think we have a choice right now.
We are going to test the hard one again tomorrow and we will see.
Thanks to my electronics guys and Ohlins, I think together we put together a good package.
”Karel Abraham – 18thToday´s first free practice was quite good, not so good was the second one.
I´ve got problem with chattering of the front and it´s really uncomfortable for me.
We must speed up one more second to achieve our goal and it´s gonna be hard, because we have only one free practice left just before the key ten-minutes long qualification.
“Bryan Staring – 21st“I am quite satisfied because we have found a better feeling with the bike tonight.
Unfortunately I still need to get my head around certain parts of the track, like turn one, but I think we can make more improvements before the race.
I am determined to do so and I will certainly be giving it my best shot.
”Claudio Corti – 24th“It didn’t go as well as we hoped.
We had a few technical problems during the second session making us waste precious time.
We haven’t been able to find the right setting and the right feeling with the bike, especially with the front of the bike.
I will take full advantage of tomorrow’s first session to find the right setting and improve the race pace.
I would like to reduce the gap with the other CRTs and be closer to Colin and the other Italian riders.
We will be looking at the data tonight to find the right solution for tomorrow hopping to have a good qualifying results.