march 17, 2018 - Aprilia Racing

Fifth row for Espargaró who finishes Q1 in third place - In his first qualifying with Aprilia, Redding takes a spot on the sixth row

Aleix Espargaró battled down to the last corner for a spot in Q2, but he came just one step short of achieving the result and, with his third place time in the first qualifying session, he earned the best spot on the fifth row. The Spaniard was one of the protagonists in the first qualifying session on a track made treacherous by the sand blown in on the wind from the nearby desert. He finished with a time of 1’55.140, half a second from the place which would have taken him through to the next session. The good pace Aleix demonstrated over the weekend leaves the door wide open to doing well in the race tomorrow.

Making his qualifying début astride the Aprilia RS-GP, Scott Redding did well. He finished his best lap at 1’55.380 which translates into the seventh best time of the session, seventeenth on the starting grid and therefore the sixth row. The same consideration goes for him concerning the chances of improving his position tomorrow in a race that promises to be very uncertain, with a lot of riders very close together in terms of gap.

"With the new engine, my Aprilia took a step forward compared to the pre-season tests, also in terms of top speed. The bike I am riding this weekend has improved significantly with respect to the winter. Now we need to improve with the new tyre in order to shave of those three or four tenths that separate us from the leaders on the flying lap. But for the race tomorrow, I am sure that we will be in the mix. We have a good pace and I think that I'll be able to battle for the top ten even if all of the riders ahead of us are truly very fast."

We're struggling a bit with grip this weekend, both on the front and on the rear. To be honest, I was worried, but today in FP4 we managed to take a step forward in this area and that gave me a better feeling for qualifying. In Q1 I used the soft front tyre, which I had never done in practice, and it actually worked quite well. Unfortunately, we didn't have the second bike ready with the same type of tyre, so I did the second outing with a used front tyre. However, the soft is only good for one lap, so I was unable to improve as much as I would have liked. I should also point out that this is my first race weekend with the new team and there are still a few mechanisms that need to be smoothed out. We have a good race pace, despite the fact that the track conditions are completely different than the tests.”