Amid mostly sunny conditions near the Atlantic coast, it was Repsol Honda Team´s Casey Stoner who got his first pole position of the season in the MotoGP™ qualifying session for the Grande Prémio de Portugal Circuito Estoril ahead of teammate Dani Pedrosa.
In a frantic final four minutes, Stoner´s time of 1.37´188 was enough to oust Pedrosa into second place on the grid, who will be looking to repeat his win here last year. Finishing off the front row of the grid is Monster Yamaha Tech 3´s revelation of the season Cal Crutchlow, who secured his second front-row start in three races.
Heading the second row is Yamaha Factory Racing´s Jorge Lorenzo, who was very unhappy with his performance in the session, as it is the first time in his MotoGP career that he has not started on the front row at Estoril.
Behind him in fifth, his teammate Ben Spies left it late to put in his fast lap, after struggling with traffic throughout the session, which saw him almost collide with Speed Master´s Mattia Pasini. Rounding out the second row is San Carlo Honda Gresini´s Álvaro Bautista, who has been the quiet performer this weekend, getting ever more comfortable on his Honda. Seventh place went to Crutchlow´s teammate Andrea Dovizioso, who has been out-qualified by the Brit for the third time in a row.
Behind him, Pramac Racing´s Héctor Barberá took the honours for top Ducati in eighth place, in front of Ducati Team rider Valentino Rossi in ninth. While this position will be hardly satisfying for Rossi, he will take heart from being less than a second off the front. Rounding out the top ten is Rossi´s teammate Nicky Hayden, who could not repeat his front-row heroics from Jerez. Top CRT finisher was Power Electronics Aspar´s Aleix Espargaró in 12th.
The session was red flagged 11 minutes before the end as Power Electronics Aspar´s Randy de Puniet lost the front end of his bike, taking out Colin Edwards on his NGM Mobile Forward Racing bike. Edwards suffered a broken collarbone, while de Puniet has abrasion to one of his fingers and contusions to his left shoulder. The session was resumed shortly after. Avintia Blusens' Iván Silva fortunately saved his near crash, by pulling off a tremendous save on his CRT bike late on in the session, as it tried to buck him off.
Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol´s Marc Márquez securely cemented his favourite tag with a dominant qualifying performance to take pole position at the Grande Prémio de Portugal Circuito Estoril.
In dry and sunny conditions the Spanish championship leader stormed to top spot with a time of 1.40´934, beating close rival, Interwetten-Paddock´s Tom Lüthi, into second by just over two tenths. Marc VDS Racing Team´s Briton Scott Redding continued his good form of the weekend by taking the final spot on the front row.
JiR Moto2´s rookie Johann Zarco, who has impressed all season, heads up the second row of the grid, a mere three hundredths off Redding, while Jerez race-winner, Pons 40 HP Tuenti´s Pol Espargaró sits outside of him in fifth. Resurgent Italian Andrea Iannone overcame yesterday´s bike issues, to round out the second row in sixth on his Speed Master machine.
Blusens Avintia´s Julián Simón is starting to gel with his Suter chassis, finishing just over five-tenths off the front, in front of 2010 Moto2 World Champion Toni Elías aboard his Mapfre Aspar Team machine. NGM Mobile Forward Racing´s Alex de Angelis low-sided his bike with 18 minutes to go in the session, but had already set the ninth fastest time. He walked away unscathed. Rounding out the top ten is Technomag-CIP´s Dominique Aegerter.
S/Master Speed Up´s Mike Di Meglio suffered his second crash of the day as he was pushing for a fast lap late in the final minute, yet suffered no ill effects.
Moto3™ qualifying at Grande Prémio de Portugal Circuito Estoril got underway in sunny conditions with Red Bull KTM Ajo´s Sandro Cortese taking his second pole position of the season ahead of Maverick Viñales.
With a lap of 1.47´145, Cortese confirmed himself as one of the favourites for tomorrow´s race, starting in front of Blusens Avintia´s championship favourite Maverick Viñales, who was just over three tenths behind. Rounding out the front row of grid is Estrella Galicia 0,0´s local hero Miguel Oliveira, who gave the home crowd something to celebrate.
Fourth on the grid is Red Bull KMT Ajo rider Danny Kent, who has found his confidence again after his Jerez crash. He starts ahead of AirAsia-Sic-Ajo´s Zulfahmi Khairuddin, who is starting to make headway after a subdued start to the season. The second row is completed by championship leader, Team Italia FMI´s Romano Fenati, who continues to impress in his maiden year.
RW Racing GP´s Luis Salom starts tomorrow´s race in seventh, having set a time just over a second off the front, ousting JHK T-Shirt Laglisse´s Efrén Vázquez into eighth. Vázquez crashed out in turn nine on his final hot-lap, yet walked away unscathed. Finishing off the third row is Bankia Aspar Team´s Héctor Faubel, while Caretta Technology´s Alexis Masbou rounds out the top ten.
Bankia Aspar Team´s Alberto Moncayo had a difficult session with his bike stopping at the end of pit lane with a mechanical problem towards the end of the session. He starts from 17th.
The Moto3™ class has some notable absentees, as IodaRacing Project´s Jonas Folger is still suffering from glandular fever and has been replaced this weekend by Italian rider Armando Pontone, while TT Motion Events Racing´s Niklas Ajo is replaced by Spain´s Joan Olive, after the Finn was banned following an altercation with a race official at the last round.
Italian Manuel Tatasciore replaces Caretta Technology´s Jack Miller this weekend, after the Australian fractured his collarbone in Jerez.