Alex Márquez charges to front row in record-breaking Mugello qualifying, Xavi Vierge 17th
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Alex Márquez targets back-to-back wins after securing a front row start in Mugello, while Vierge is set to mount a strong challenge in the Italian Grand Prix after topping the Q1 leaderboard.
Warm and dry conditions were present throughout a thrilling day of Moto2 action at the Mugello track today, with air temperatures peaking at 26 degrees by the time Q2 commenced this afternoon.
A top three finish in FP3 this morning put French Grand Prix winner Márquez straight into Q2, as Vierge narrowly missed out on a place inside the crucial top 14.
Just like he did in Austin, Jerez and Le Mans, Márquez put up a tremendous fight for pole position and he will start from the front row for the fourth race in a row this season. Xavi Vierge pushed hard and put in maximum effort and will start from the 17th position of the grid.
In hot but windy conditions this morning, Márquez demonstrated a fast pace in race trim before a late lap of 1’51.728 secured him third place and a spot in Q2.
He was only beaten by Augusto Fernandez and Tom Lüthi in FP3, and his impressive performance gave him confidence to fight for the front row in the 15-minute Q2 session.
A stunning lap of 1’51.346, which was comfortably inside the previous all-time lap record of 1’51.514, was fast enough to secure third place on the grid behind pole man Marcel Schrotter and Lüthi.
Third in the race in Mugello in 2017, Márquez expects to continue his strong form in tomorrow’s 21-lap battle to compete for back-to-back wins for the first time since Barcelona and Assen in 2014.
“It was a tough qualifying session but I think today we can be pleased with a job very well done. We made a step this morning and comfortably got into Q2 and I felt very strong with my rhythm for the race. I still think we can improve and we will try to find some more pace in the Warm-up because it is going to be a long race and being intelligent and constant is crucial. Normally it is a group race and difficult to open a gap at the front. Possibly the rider that can make a break is Tom Lüthi but we will see. I feel prepared and positive for tomorrow and the target is to be on the podium and fighting for the win. But it will be important to gain the maximum points for the Championship.”
Vierge could not have been closer to claiming a deserved place in Q2 when a lap of 1’52.551 in FP3 was just 0.080s away from clinching a top 14 position.
The Spaniard made amends though with a sensational performance in Q1 and a hot lap of 1’51.659 put him top of the timesheets ahead of Moto3 World Champion Jorge Martin and current Moto2 World Championship leader Lorenzo Baldassarri.
Q2 was yet another intensely close contest and Vierge’s best pace of 1’52.055 was just over half-a-second from the top five, as he prepares for a sixth row start.
“Overall this weekend I have had really good rhythm and my race pace has been close to the best riders. My main issue this weekend has been to make a fast lap on new tyres even if it is true that I was strong and fast in Q1. I managed to get a slipstream and with the headwind on the straight that was very important. But in Q2 I struggled again and I just couldn’t put the perfect lap together. I’m starting from 17th position but I remain positive. The result was not what I wanted in Q2 but we have good pace for the race and with a good start I’m sure I can make a nice comeback and the battle for the top 8 positions.”