Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Viñales snatches pole as drama erupts in Misano qualifying

Sep 15. 2019
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By MotoGP

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Rossi and Marquez get dicey, KTM split two Yamahas on the front row
Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) continued his phenomenal weekend at the Gran Premio Octo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini, taking his second pole position of the season and breaking some hearts at KTM as he knocked compatriot Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) off provisional P1 on his final flying lap. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) completes the front row, but the headlines don't end there. Some drama erupted behind the three men in Q2 as Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) and Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) almost clashed at the final corner.

Before all that, it wasn’t the start to Q2 Espargaro would have been looking for as his RC16 stopped at the end of pitlane but, luckily, he was able to get away fairly sharpish with a bit of help from a mechanic. Meanwhile on track, Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) backed out of his first flying lap and Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) was the first to set a benchmark time. Just after that though, his rookie teammate Quartararo would go and set the quickest lap of the weekend despite a mistake in Sector 1 – the Frenchman slamming in a 1:32.686 to lead the way. Morbidelli responded to go just 0.024 off but Quartararo then improved to go over a tenth clear, with Marquez jumping up to third on his first quick lap soon thereafter.

Heading back into the pits, the top four of Quartararo, Morbidelli, Marquez and Viñales were split by just 0.2 seconds. Home hero Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) was sitting fifth ahead of Espargaro, with second in the Championship Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) only tenth. Viñales switched bikes quickly, in and out like a flash, and on his next flying lap took third off Marquez to make it an all-Yamaha front row with three minutes to go...but there was plenty yet to come.

Morbidelli was setting red sectors before a huge slide coming into the third split ruined his lap, but what about provisional pole man Quartararo? He had Espargaro for company on his final lap but the Frenchman ran onto the green at the fast Turn 11 and voided his lap, leaving him unable to improve. Espargaro was still setting personal bests though, and as the KTM rider took the chequered flag it suddenly became apparent quite how stunning his lap was as he took provisional pole by 0.011. The fairytale wouldn't quite prove perfect, but the performance remains superb.

It wasn't perfect for the Austrian factory because Viñales was coming. Red sector after red sector, one of the men who has been blisteringly fast all weekend crossed the line to go pole by nearly three tenths, and there were only two riders left to try and topple him: Marquez and Rossi.

Marquez, shadowing Rossi, was also on for pole. However, after overtaking the number 46 into Turn 11, the Championship leader ran wide. And, as it turned out, Rossi had also already exceeded track limits. But it boiled up to a final corner almost-clash, with the Yamaha slicing up the inside of the Honda as the duo came close to touching at Turn 14. Neither improved and both were summoned to a hearing with the FIM MotoGP™ Stewards to discuss the incident but no further action was taken. Marquez will start fifth, Rossi seventh.

That was that and the front row of Viñales-Espargaro-Quartararo was decided, with Franco Morbidelli taking his best grid position since Mugello and Catalunya to head up the second row. He's just ahead of Marquez, with Dovizioso forced to settle for sixth on home turf. The Italian has, however, been a lightning starter of late...

Joining Rossi on row three are the Suzuki duo of Alex Rins and Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar), with Johann Zarco (Red Bull KTM Factory) racing having been eighth fastest in qualifying but the Frenchman needing to serve his three-place grid penalty given at Silverstone. 

Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) was P11 in qualifying but will start just ahead of Zarco, with Ducati test rider and wildcard Michele Pirro just behind the Frenchman on the grid in 12th. Further back, some big hitters will be starting down the order: Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) will launch from P14, with the Ducatis of Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) and Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) starting from 16th and 17th respectively.

In addition, Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) will miss the remainder of the weekend after hurting his shoulder in a crash.

After a dramatic Saturday it's now time for race day on the Riviera di Rimini. Viñales looks fast, a seventh front-row start for Quartararo sets him up for Sunday, and Pol Espargaro will be one to watch off the lap. Meanwhile Marquez, Dovizioso and Rossi are all looking to attack from the off...

Tune in for the San Marino GP LIVE at 14:00 local time (GMT+2) on Sunday and get ready for a classic.
Qualifying results:
1 - Maverick Viñales (SPA - Yamaha) 1'32.265   
2 - Pol Espargaro (SPA - KTM) +0.295
3 - Fabio Quartararo* (FRA - Yamaha) +0.306


*Independent Team rider
Front row L-R: Espargaro, Viñales and Quartararo
 
Di Giannantonio ousts Marquez for maiden pole at Misano
Italian rookie takes his first pole position in style on home turf, ahead of the top two in the title fight
Rookie Fabio Di Giannantonio (+Ego Speed Up) set a fantastic 1:37.481 in Moto2™ Q2 at the GP Octo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini to take his first career pole position, beating some serious competition: Championship leader Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) and second in the standings Augusto Fernandez (FlexBox HP 40) both line up next to him on the front row.

The sun was beaming down at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli and it was Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) who shone brightest in the early stages of Q2, the Australian setting the fastest lap of the weekend to lead teammate Tetsuta Nagashima by just 0.007. However, as he has done all weekend, Marquez was threatening the top. 10th after the first flying laps, the Spaniard then went P1 by 0.046 and soon after, Fernandez slotted himself into second. It was tight, however, with the top four split by only 0.053 with five minutes remaining - and then came 'Diggia'.

The Italian pulled out of his first flying lap on his final run, but there was no stopping him on his last lap. Two tenths under in the first sector became 0.278 in his pocket at the third split and the impressive performance went unchallenged from then on, giving the Moto2™ rookie his first-ever pole position. With Marquez alongside him and Fernandez alongside him, Sunday looks set to be a stunner.

Gardner and Nagashima will line up fourth and fifth as the duo keep up their great weekend at Misano, with Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) claiming P6 to complete the front row despite a crash at Turn 9,

Title challenger Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) and birthday boy Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) took seventh and eighth, with ninth going the way of home hero Marco Bezzecchi (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) after he came through Q1. It's the second best qualifying of his rookie season, and he just beat fellow rookie Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team). 'Bestia' is coming back from injury and completed the top ten.

Andrea Locatelli lines up behind his Italtrans teammate in P11, with compatriots Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46), Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) and Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40) next up. Jorge Navarro (+Ego Speed Up) is 15th, and he'll be one of a few looking for a quick fight back through the pack on race day.

Q1 graduate Iker Lecuona (American Racing KTM) crashed in Q2, rider ok. Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) is ruled out of the remainder of the weekend with a broken collarbone from a crash in practice, and Mattia Pasini (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2) was also declared unfit due to a small fracture in a vertebra. 

Can 'Diggia' become an intermediate class winner? Will the top two in the Championship make Misano into a duelling ground? Don’t miss the Moto2™ race at 12:20 local time (GMT+2) on Sunday. 
Qualifying results:
1 - Fabio Di Giannantonio (ITA - Speed Up) 1'37.481
2 - Alex Marquez (SPA - Kalex) +0.173
3 - Augusto Fernandez (SPA - Kalex) +0.164
Front row L-R: Marquez, Di Giannantonio and Fernandez
 
Suzuki supreme at Misano for first career pole
Japanese rider puts SIC58 Squadra Corse in P1 on the team's hallowed home turf
Tatsuki Suzuki took his first ever pole position at the Gran Premio Octo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini to put SIC58 Squadra Corse front and centre on their home turf at Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, and he even did it via a trip through Q1. He's joined on the front row by Championship contenders Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) in second, also via Q1, and home hero Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers).

It was a high-stakes Q1 for a few big names at Misano, although ultimately title contenders Canet and Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) emerged into Q2, as did Romano Fenati (VNE Snipers) despite a crash and eventual polesitter Suzuki. But once the second session was under way, the drama didn't stop there...

Another crash for Fenati sidelined him from the battle early on and sadly for the Italian, also from the race weekend as he fractured his scaphoid. Not long after it was Championship leader Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) then sliding out as he sat in fifth, although he was up and quickly able to get back to pitlane. There wasn't enough time for the team to get him back out on track for the final push for pole, however.

Before that final push it was Suzuki on top and despite the flurry of last minute activity, that's how it would stay as the few improvers weren't able to challenge the Japanese rider's 1'42.844. Canet came closest as he slotted into second on his final lap, but the man second in the standings was still just over a tenth in arrears - and only 0.006 ahead of Arbolino.

Behind the Suzuki-Canet-Arbolino front row, Jaume Masia (WWR) put in a good showing to take fourth, with Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) a late mover up the timesheets to complete the top five on home turf. Antonelli completes Row 2, the only man other than his teammate to have briefly sat on top of the timesheets in the session.

Dalla Porta slipped down the order to finally take P7 and head up the third row, although he did win his first Grand Prix at this very track last season from P8. Friday pacesetter Albert Arenas (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) took eighth this year, ahead of Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing), who recovered well after a difficult Friday. Andrea Migno (WWR) had another solid day on home turf to complete the top ten.

Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) was another who had another good day to take P11, as did Filip Salač (Redox PrüstelGP) in P12 for his best ever qualifying. Dennis Foggia (Sky Racing Team VR46) slots into thirteenth ahead of John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) after a crash for the Brit on his final lap, with Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PrüstelGP) completing the fastest fifteen...and the last man in Q2 to set a time.

FP3 pacesetter Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) had his last lap cancelled for exceeding track limits, so he'll be looking to move forward from P16 on race day after an impressive return from injury so far, ahead of Kazuki Masaki (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race) after he crashed and failed to set a lap, although rider ok.

That's it from Saturday on a sun-kissed Riviera de Rimini, with the grid once again setting us up for a classic race as Canet takes on the home heroes in the title fight.  Tune in as the lightweight class attack Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli at 11:00 (GMT +2) on Sunday.
Qualifying results:
 

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