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MotoGP After a sensational final battle for pole in 2018, Q1 graduate Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) was the man to take P1 in Q2... Valencia GP, Qualifying roundup: MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3

MotoGP

After a sensational final battle for pole in 2018, Q1 graduate Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) was the man to take P1 in Q2 at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana after setting a 1:31.312. This was enough to edge out second place Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) by 0.068 and third place Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) by 0.080 in a close top three, with the scene set for an awesome final fight of the year. Reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), meanwhile, crashed, dislocated his shoulder, then headed back out to claim a miraculous P5 and Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) starts way down in P16.

A piece of history was also made in Valencia GP Q2 as all six current manufacturers finished inside the top eight in qualifying – the first time it’s ever happened.

It was seven-time Champion Marquez who led the field onto the first flying lap but then at Turn 4, the 2018 Champion suddenly lost the front and went down – seemingly dislocating his left shoulder in the process. Marquez headed straight back to the Repsol Honda motorhome, but soon after he headed back out…

Back on track it was Dovizioso who was setting the pace, but then Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing) got the better of his compatriot to set the first 1:31 of the session before blitzing the field again on his next lap – a 1:31.531 becoming the time to beat. Then with six minutes to go, a warrior emerged in the form of Marquez as he left pitlane and all eyes were on the seven-time Champion. Before the 93 crossed the line though, Viñales shot to the top to take provisional pole…

Red sectors were lighting up the screens in the final minutes of the session though and it was Viñales who went quicker again to make 0.068 his margin at the top, with the miraculous Marquez climbing back up to P3. The World Champion then had a moment at Turn 1 to end his session, but there was still time for change elsewhere as Rins was then threatening to take pole on his final lap. In the end, however, a breathless qualifying ended with Viñales spearheading the grid after his first pole on a Saturday since Aragon last year, with his Americas GP pole this season resulting from a Marquez penalty. Rins and ‘DesmoDovi’ complete the front row, and Petrucci is top Independent Team rider in fourth, gunning for that title on Sunday too. Marquez’ miracle top-five performance sees him remain well in the mix, too.

Just behind the reigning Champion, sixth made it a great day for Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) with the Spaniard just 0.265 from pole in KTM’s equal best qualifying performance. He was just ahead of Q1 graduate Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) in P7, with Aleix Espargaro’s (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) P8 the final piece in the puzzle that saw all six manufacturers inside the top eight, split by just 0.318.

In his final ever qualifying, Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) claimed P9 to start from the outside of the third row after some difficulties in FP4 that affected his QP, with Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) suffering his fourth crash of the weekend to start P10 but automatically through to Q2 once again. While on a lap that was 0.3 under, Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) also crashed at Turn 10 to start P11 – rider ok, with Michele Pirro (Ducati Team) settling for P12 after making it straight into Q2 from Free Practice.

After failing to make it through Q1, Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) starts P16 after a tough day at the office. What can ‘The Doctor’ do from there in the final race of the season? If the race is anything like qualifying was, then we’re in for an absolute treat. Tune in for the season finale at 14:00 local time (GMT +1)!

Moto2

Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) picked up where he left off in Malaysia to take pole position at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana, his 1:35.777 enough to beat Xavi Vierge (Dynavolt Intact GP) by a slender 0.027, with fellow Dynavolt Intact GP rider Marcel Schrötter completing the front row – 0.168 back from Marini.

The clouds loomed for Moto2™ qualifying but it stayed dry and as the clock ticked towards the 10-minute remaining mark, it was Marini who led the way. Schrötter then took over at the top to better the Italian by 0.080 but he wasn’t going down without a fight. Straight away the Malaysian GP race winner leapfrogged the German to head the field again – 0.007 the gap. Then, the Italian went quicker once more to move the goal posts further, with 0.201 his advantage over the field.

Vierge was then on a mission, but could he topple Marini’s time? Nearly, but not quite. The Spaniard crossed the line just 0.027 off to go to P2. Personal best laps were incoming, but nothing would trouble Marini at the summit – a second pole of the year was the Italian’s, with Vierge’s time also unable to be bettered. Schrötter tried to climb up the front row but despite setting his best time on his final lap, the German would remain P3 – 0.168 off pole.

2018 World Champion Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) managed to launch himself up to P4 at the chequered flag as he prepares to go into battle for the final time in the intermediate class on Sunday and compatriot Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP40) also managed to improve on his last lap to go from P7 to P5. He now starts one place ahead of Sam Lowes (Swiss Innovative Investors) in P6 after Lowes’ best qualifying result since the German GP. But just 0.001 behind the British rider was Joan Mir (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) in seventh, who in turn was just 0.044 ahead of countryman Augusto Fernandez (Pons HP40) – another top result with P8 for the Spaniard getting him into the top ten in the latter stages. Fabio Quartararo (HDR Heidrun – Speed Up) was ninth, with the two Red Bull KTM Ajo machines next up – P10 for Miguel Oliveira, P11 for Brad Binder.

Wet conditions look set to be the name of the game for Sunday’s Moto2™ race as the curtains close on a spectacular intermediate class season. Who will take the final win? Tune in for the race at 11:20 local time (GMT +1).

Moto3

Remember Argentina? Tony Arbolino (Marinelli Snipers Team) did it again in the season finale as he secured his second career pole position at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana. A 1:46.773 was enough to beat second-place Nakarin Atiratphuvapat (Honda Team Asia) by 0.244 and third place John McPhee (CIP – Green Power) by 0.343 in an enthralling lightweight class qualifying.

It was a hectic start to the Moto3™ qualifying session as several riders went down in the opening exchanges on a drying Circuit Ricardo Tormo. Marco Bezzecchi (Redox PreustelGP) was the man to lead the opening exchanges, but he crashed his KTM machine at Turn 8. 2018 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup Champion Can Öncü (Red Bull KTM Ajo) then took over at the summit, but he also went down at Turn 8 – the Turkish rider able get straight back on track but the Italian having to get his bike fixed.

As they have been all weekend, the track conditions were tricky but with no rain falling, a slight dry line started to appear as the times continued to tumble, with Atiratphuvapat sitting 0.2 clear with 12 minutes remaining. However, with his bike repaired, Bezzecchi then took over at the top but by only 0.027.

The track was getting drier and drier and the times started to get faster, with Raul Fernandez (Angel Nieto Team Moto3) and Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PruestelGP) taking over at the top soon after and from there on in, the red sectors were coming from across the board as five minutes remained. Pole position? Anyone’s guess at that stage – but there were still no gamblers changing from wets.

With two to go, it was Atiratphuvapat on top by 0.188 but half the field were lighting up the timing screens with red sectors as some began to gamble on slicks. Arbolino was one of them and he moved the goal posts by over a second, so could that be beaten? Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) got within 0.3 of the Italian as they homed in, before Arbolino went even quicker to set a 1:46.773; the insurmountable time that would earn the Italian pole.

Öncü then leapt up to a stunning P2 on his final run, before McPhee and then Atiratphuvapat just bumped the 15-year-old wildcard down to fourth and the front of the second row. He’s joined by Canet who ended the session P5 after the late flurry of times, with Bezzecchi starting from the outside of the second row in his last Moto3™ race – P6 for the Italian.

After a crash, Marcos Ramirez (Bester Capital Dubai) managed to get himself up to P7 at the end of the session, with Kornfeil settling for eighth. Ninth went to Albert Arenas (Angel Nieto Team Moto3), the Spaniard another rider to crash during the session, with teammate and wildcard Fernandez rounding out the top ten in another impressive showing.

The sensational qualifying session ends with some big names down the order: 2018 Champion Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) starts P13, with teammate Fabio Di Giannantonio P15 and Enea Bastianini (Leopard Racing) sandwiched between the two in P14. Sounds like a recipe for a fantastic show on Sunday, so tune in from 11:00 local time (GMT +1) for the final fight of the season.