The second day of practice and qualifying for the Catalan Grand Prix was staged on a revised layout today, with a return to last year´s configuration used after a new chicane created for 2017 was dropped following a Safety Commission meeting on Friday.
The switch back to the F1 chicane used during Saturday and Sunday in 2016 was declared the safest option for tomorrow´s 25-lap race.
The changes didn’t affect on the impressive speed demonstrated by Reale Avintia Racing team rider Hector Barbera, who was 10th in FP3 this morning, which secured him a place in the all-important Q2.
A positive performance in FP4 when he worked on race pace was followed by a superb qualifying display. The Spanish rider set the sixth fastest lap time, which is his best qualifying of 2017 and his best grid position since the Brno race last August. A second row start means Barbera is confident he can celebrate his 250th Grand Prix start with a top 10 finish tomorrow.
Loris Baz will start tomorrow’s race from the 16th place on the grid, but the Frenchman is satisfied after fighting in Q1 with riders like Valentino Rossi, Maverick Vinales, Johann Zarco, Jonas Folger and Cal Crutchlow, so he was satisfied with the final outcome. He has shown promising race pace and tomorrow the Reale Avintia Racing rider hopes to be able to score some crucial World Championship points.
“Tomorrow I’ll reach 250 races in the World Championship, but every race feels like the first one for me. I’ve been here for 16 seasons and I’m 30 years old, so I’ve been enjoying more than half my of life in the paddock, and that is why I feel privileged. I have lived beautiful moments, the best of my life and others very hard, like being without bike for the following season, or the most recent example were the first five races this year that was like a nightmare for me. That is why this sixth place has come at the best moment and tomorrow I hope to celebrate my 250th race with a great result. I am going to give my best. The race will be difficult with so much heat and there will be many crashes as we have seen today. The race pace I have is good, and although my finger hurts a little after the crash yesterday, I think we can do very well. ”
“We could not expect much more from Q1. Sometimes you end up higher and with a bad taste in the mouth, but today now I’m happy with this 16th place. If you look at the people who missed Q2, they have all achieved a few victories and podiums and that’s why we have to be happy. I couldn´t do more and I went absolutely to the limit of the bike, so tomorrow we will see the rhythm of the others. With a good start, being smart and finishing the race, we can do well tomorrow. I feel the circuit is better with the other chicane, but it is not perfect. At least there is less chance of creating chaos tomorrow in the first lap.”