2014 Motegi MotoGP Qualifying Results

Ahead of the Grand Prix of Japan, Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso said his GP14 Desmosedici would be competitive at Twin Ring Motegi.

The 28-year-old Italian noted he was hard on the brakes, something needed for optimal lap times at Motegi, and the Ducati’s chassis allows for extremely hard braking. Plus, Dovi’s only pole position arrived in 2010 at Motegi when he was riding for Repsol Honda.

Dovi’s assumption proved true on Friday, where he was the fastest rider of the day by nearly a half of second. Saturday’s practice sessions began slower, but things changed drastically during the second qualifying session.

Dovi ran quickly on the softer-rear tire, but after his second pit in Q2 he put in a nearly flawless lap of 1:44.502 – a new lap record – to earn the pole position for Sunday’s 24-lap Grand Prix of Japan.

This was Dovi’s second-career pole in the premier class, and Ducati’s first since 2010 when Casey Stoner earned the pole at Valencia. This was also Ducati’s 31st pole in MotoGP.

Joining Dovi on the front row is Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi, who trailed by a mere 0.055 of second, and Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa, who trailed by 0.253. This represents three different manufacturers on the front row.

“It’s great satisfaction to finally obtain this pole position with Ducati! We have been through some difficult times in the last year and a half, but we have constantly improved in the last few races,” Dovizioso says.

“To succeed in being so quick throughout the weekend here at Motegi, also with my race pace, establish a good feeling with the bike before qualifying and know that you can fight for the pole is really a great feeling! We have always worked well since the start of the year, but this weekend went even better because we managed to find a good set-up almost from the start and only had to work on fine-tuning the bike, and session after session this made all the difference.

“Here it’s very difficult to do a perfect lap, because it doesn’t take much to overshoot: in fact I made a mistake in the downhill turn, but luckily I managed to take pole all the same!”

When the 15-minute Q2 session began, the nine-time World Champion Rossi was the early leader. He eventually dropped down in the timesheet, until putting in a hot lap with four minutes remaining to qualify second.

“I am very happy and satisfied. Especially because I will get to start from the front row, which will be very important for tomorrow’s race. It will be a long race and very tough because everybody will push at their maximum. I’m happy because with the team we worked well on the bike to improve the setting,” Rossi says.

“We did a good job and before the qualifying I was strong. I hope this modification also helps my rhythm for the race. During the practice session my rhythm was not so bad, but it was also nothing special. If we want to fight for the victory tomorrow we have to improve. At first I was worried about my head injury, but then I realized I’m ok. When it comes to the finger, this finger is very important for braking. I feel pain, but I have power in my finger and I have feeling on the brake so I can ride.”

Pedrosa, who has the most wins at Motegi with four, was quick throughout Q2, but crashed at turn 12 (Tunnel Turn) during the final moments. He walked away unharmed, and was able to qualifying on the front row.

“I’m happy today because we had a good qualifying session and were setting some good times. Unfortunately I crashed on the last lap, almost at the final corner, when I was going quickly to try to get pole position. Luckily I’m fine and tomorrow I will try to use this front row spot to get a good start,” Pedrosa says.

“It could be a very tight race, because there are many riders who have shown a good pace and this is a circuit that allows for very close lap times. We’ll see what happens but we will strive to do our best and we will remain fully focused. It will be important to ride with skill and bravery.”

The man who can clinch the title this weekend, Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez, qualified fourth, a mere 0.02 of a second behind his teammate. Marquez needs to either win, or finish second or third ahead of Pedrosa and Rossi to clinch the title.

“I’m happy, even though we didn’t achieve our goal of getting onto the front row, because we have improved ahead of tomorrow. The pace that we have is good. It’s a pity that we didn’t find a perfect lap in qualifying, but we are confident for tomorrow and ready to fight for the win,” Marquez says.

“Our pace is similar to that of Rossi, Pedrosa and Lorenzo and this is important. We also shouldn’t overlook Dovizioso, who also has a very good pace on race tires.”

Joining Marquez on the second row is the two-time MotoGP Champion who won at Aragon two weeks ago, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo, and Pramac Racing Ducati’s Andrea Iannone, respectively.

Row three consists of Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), Cal Crutchlow (Ducati Team) and Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP). Filling row four are Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech3), Aleix Espargaro (NGM Forward Racing) and Alvaro Bautista (GO&FUN Honda Gresini).

As for the sole American in 2014 Grand Prix racing, Drive M7 Aspar’s Nicky Hayden qualified 14th. The Kentuckian returned to MotoGP at Aragon following a four-race hiatus due to wrist surgery; he finished ninth at Aragon.

The riders return to the Motegi Twin Ring Sunday for the 15th round of MotoGP. Fox Sports 1 will provide live coverage beginning at 12 a.m. (ET) Sunday morning, so set those DVRs.

2014 Motegi MotoGP Qualifying Results:
1. (4) Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Ducati Team Ducati 308.3 1’44.502
2.  (46) Valentino ROSSI ITA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 305.4 1’44.557 0.055 / 0.055
3.  (26) Dani PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 307.6 1’44.755 0.253 / 0.198
4.  (93) Marc MARQUEZ SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 306.9 1’44.775 0.273 / 0.020
5 . (99) Jorge LORENZO SPA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 303.7 1’44.784 0.282 / 0.009
6.  (29) Andrea IANNONE ITA Pramac Racing Ducati 304.3 1’44.854 0.352 / 0.070
7. (44) Pol ESPARGARO SPA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 302.6 1’44.867 0.365 / 0.013
8. (35) Cal CRUTCHLOW GBR Ducati Team Ducati 304.3 1’44.898 0.396 / 0.031
9. (6) Stefan BRADL GER LCR Honda MotoGP Honda 306.3 1’45.005 0.503 / 0.107
10. (38) Bradley SMITH GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 303.4 1’45.044 0.542 / 0.039
11. (41) Aleix ESPARGARO SPA NGM Forward Racing Forward Yamaha 297.4 1’45.315 0.813 / 0.271
12. (19) Alvaro BAUTISTA SPA GO&FUN Honda Gresini Honda 304.9 1’45.677 1.175 / 0.362
13. (68) Yonny HERNANDEZ COL Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Ducati 302.3 1’45.971 0.373 / 0.174
14. (69) Nicky HAYDEN USA Drive M7 Aspar Honda 290.5 1’46.465 0.867 / 0.494
15. (45) Scott REDDING GBR GO&FUN Honda Gresini Honda 289.5 1’46.499 0.901 / 0.034
16. (8) Hector BARBERA SPA Avintia Racing Ducati 301.6 1’46.796 1.198 / 0.297
17. (21) Katsuyuki NAKASUGA JPN YAMALUBE Racing Team with YSP Yamaha 300.2 1’46.876 1.278 / 0.080
18. (7) Hiroshi AOYAMA JPN Drive M7 Aspar Honda 296.7 1’46.915 1.317 / 0.039
19. (17) Karel ABRAHAM CZE Cardion AB Motoracing Honda 293.7 1’46.948 1.350 / 0.033
20. (15) Alex DE ANGELIS RSM NGM Forward Racing Forward Yamaha 296.6 1’47.092 1.494 / 0.144
21. (9) Danilo PETRUCCI ITA Octo IodaRacing Team ART 289.6 1’47.757 2.159 / 0.665
22. (70) Michael LAVERTY GBR Paul Bird Motorsport PBM 293.8 1’48.144 2.546 / 0.387
23. (63) Mike DI MEGLIO FRA Avintia Racing Avintia 290.0 1’48.185 2.587 / 0.041
24. (23) Broc PARKES AUS Paul Bird Motorsport PBM 289.2 1’48.261 2.663 / 0.076