Catalunya MotoGP: Bradley Smith third in 125GP qualifying
Bradley Smith bounced back superbly from a heavy practice crash to claim his fourth successive front row start in Catalunya today.
The Aspar Aprilia rider ended a 125GP qualifying session run in baking hot conditions with the third best time as he showed no signs of a big high-side crash this morning hampering his pace.
Smith surged to the top of the timesheets after 17 minutes with a time of 1.51.497 and was never off the front row as he again faced an onslaught from a bunch of fast Spaniard’s.
Smith was fourth in the closing stages but a best lap of 1.51.019 promoted him into second position.
But just as it looked like he would claim his best qualifying result of the 2010 campaign, the 19-year-old was bumped back down to third by home favourite Pol Espargaro.
Third though equalled his best qualifying result of the season that he scored in his home race at Silverstone last month.
Pole position went to rampant Marc Marquez after he continued his stunning form.
He first jumped to the top of the timesheets with just under 20 minutes remaining with a best time of 1.51.410.
Nobody could topple him after that stage and with five minutes remaining he extended his advantage to an impressive 0.652s having posted a lap of 1.50.543. That came just a lap after he’d survived a massive scare when he lost the front-end of his Derbi machine at the penultimate corner.
The Spaniard somehow saved the big front tyre slide with his right knee and was able to secure his fifth pole position of the season.
Marquez is aiming for a fourth straight win in tomorrow’s 22-lap race as he tries to close down an 11-point deficit on series leader Nicolas Terol.
Espargaro’s last lap best of 1.50.809 left him 0.266s behind Marquez but 0.210s clear of Oxfordshire rider Smith. Espargaro has yet to qualify off the front row in 2010.
World championship leader Terol, who holds a slender three-point lead over Espargaro going into tomorrow’s race, completed the front row.
The Aspar Aprilia rider posted a best of 1.51.066 to finish just 0.047s behind team-mate Smith.
Kent rider Danny Webb will start from 16th on the grid having struggled to set-up his Aprilia machine in searing hot temperatures.
Sixteenth is Webb’s worst qualifying performance of the season and his best time of 1.52.861 left him over two seconds off the fastest time but less than four-tenths off the top ten.
1. Marquez (Derbi) 1m 50.543s
2. Espargaro (Derbi) +0.266s
3. Smith (Aprilia) +0.476s
4. Terol (Aprilia) +0.523s
5. Cortese (Derbi) +1.003s
6. Koyama (Aprilia) +1.281s
7. Rabat (Aprilia) +1.347s
8. Vazquez (Derbi) +1.408s
9. Masbou (Aprilia) +1.773s
10. Zarco (Aprilia) +1.935s