Vierge grabs brilliant front row for 2019 curtain raiser
Xavi Vierge will start the 2019 season from the front row of the grid courtesy of a strong qualifying performance; Alex Márquez provides strong backup with the ninth best time of Q2.
- The Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS team-mates Alex Márquez and Xavi Viergeexperience the new qualifying format for the intermediate class, which sees the fastest 14 riders from free practice (and the fastest four from Q1) qualify for the 15-minute Q2 shootout, which decides the grid for Sunday’s race. Both Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders qualified directly for Q2.
- Extremely windy conditions and a reduced track temperature of just 18 degrees Celsius make conditions precarious for Moto2 riders in qualifying.
- Vierge nonetheless smashes the existing pole position record by three tenths of a second and claims the second fastest time, behind pole sitter Marcel Schrotter (1:58.585) Alex Márquez will start tomorrow’s race from ninth position.
Alex Márquez: 9th, 1'59.062, +0.477, 24 laps, 129 km.
- Alex Márquez made improvements with the set-up of his bike in FP3 that allowed him to lap faster in the first sector of the 5.4km Losail International Circuit, one of his problems on Friday. He feels he is well prepared to challenge the leading names in Sunday’s race.
- The 2014 Moto3 World Champion decided to lap the circuit alonethrough Q2, and struggled to put sufficient temperature into his tyres. He was unable to match his previous personal best lap time set during the preseason test at this track – a 1'58.948 - in qualifying and ended the session 0.477s off pole position.
“I was trying to put temperature into the tyres but it wasn’t easy"
“I was a little bit nervous but I tried my best from the beginning. I tried to understand quickly how the conditions changed. I was there, pushing all the lap to improve but it was difficult. I was trying to put temperature into the tyres but it wasn’t easy. Anyway, it wasn’t so bad. I need to improve and understand what I need to do better for the next qualifying. Maybe I needed a reference, but I didn’t want to give my slipstream to anybody. I’m happy though. The work for the race is done. We did a great job this morning. Tomorrow I’ll try to do a good start, be smooth all the race, and recovery the positions quickly.”
Xavi Vierge: 2nd, 1'58.731, +0.146, 20 laps, 108 km.
- The 21-year old has been in excellent shape all weekend, and backed up his second fastest time in FP1 with a strong fourth place in FP3, despite the excessive wind around the 5.4km Losail International Circuit on Saturday. Vierge tested tyre options in a blustery FP3, and posted an impressive six-lap run in the 2m 0s in FP3. He expects to challenge for victory in Sunday’s 20-lap race.
- Vierge was always in the running for pole position in the Q2 shootout. Electing to stay on track for the full 15 minutes, the Spaniard smashed the existing Moto2 pole record with 1'58.731 on just his third lap to send him to P1. Although Schrotter went faster by 0.146s, Vierge ended the session second, securing his sixth front row start in the Moto2 class.
"We’ve focussed on race pace so we will fight tomorrow for the victory"
“I’m really happy. I want to say a big thank you to my team. All preseason they worked really hard. This weekend I’ve felt really good with the bike from the beginning. I only made a few adjustments and was always focussed on the race pace. Today was the first time we used the new qualifying format and I think we made a really good job. We could make a few fast laps and we fought for the pole. In the end it wasn’t possible, but we’ve focussed on race pace so we will fight tomorrow for the victory until the last laps. Tomorrow it will be a long race, and for sure there will be many, many riders fighting. It’s so tight. I guess we will see who has a good rhythm. We need to make a good start and after a few laps see if we can stay fighting for a good position. Then in the last laps I hope we can be there fighting for the top three.”