#ValenciaGP Qualifying roundup: MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
On Friday at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana, it was all about one man: Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT). A day later and the headlines don’t need too much adjusting, with the French rookie putting in another superlative performance in qualifying to take the final pole position of the season – his sixth in his rookie year. It was a close run duel with reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), however, with the number 93 losing out by just 0.032 despite a crash in FP4. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing), another man with some serious pace so far, converted that into a front row start and he’ll start third.
The chill had been taken out the day by the time qualifying came around, and in Q1 it was Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) vs Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) in a duel for supremacy – with the former coming out on top, but by just 0.005. Johann Zarco (LCR Honda Idemitsu) was the man who just lost out in P13, with the 12 men ahead of him then heading out to fight for pole.
Given his performances in qualifying so far this season, it was no surprise to see Quartararo on provisional pole after the first run, but Miller was coming. The Australian was able to take over at the top as the riders headed back out, but it didn’t take too long for Quartararo to strike back. Provisionally fastest once again and Marquez taking over in second, there remained one more shot at it for most. Could the reigning Champion ruin the rookie party?
As the clock ticked down, many were still pushing but the timing screens remained resolutely free of red. Quartararo couldn’t better himself, and Marquez and Miller had no answer for the Frenchman. So a sixth pole of the season is the number 20’s sign off from rookie Saturdays, and he’ll be aiming, as ever, for a maiden win on Sunday. But Marquez will doubtless be keen to stand in his way as he homes in on 400 points, with Miller with his own high stakes as he aims to stop Quartararo taking the title of top Independent Team rider too.
On the second row it’s Sepang winner Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) in fourth, with Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) in a solid fifth. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) slotted into sixth as the only man who improved on his final lap, aiming to stop Marquez from giving Repsol Honda the teams’ Championship.
Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) got the better of Q1 graduate and teammate Alex Rins to take seventh, with Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) completing the third row alongside the two Suzukis. Ducati Team’s Danilo Petrucci rounds out the top 10 in Valencia.
Pol Espargaro managed to beat Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) to P11, with the KTM man aiming even higher on race day. But on that race day, Rossi will be eager to hit back and move a good way forward – with Saturday sessions largely having seen ‘The Doctor’ further forward, despite a tough Friday.
Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team), meanwhile, will begin an emotionally-charged final race of his career from 16th.
Jorge Navarro (MB Conveyors Speed Up) has taken the final Moto2™ pole position of the season on home turf, but he had close company from rookie Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana. The two Spaniards are split by just 0.017, with Stefano Manzi claiming a maiden front row start of the season for MV Agusta Temporary Forward in third.
Navarro’s teammate Fabio Di Giannantonio was the early pacesetter in Moto2™ Q2, but the Italian’s session would soon end in the gravel trap at Turn 5. With seven minutes to go ‘Diggia’ remained top as his 2018 Moto3™ teammate Martin slotted himself into P2, however, and it was then Manzi’s turn to get even closer as the gap was cut to 0.039. Free Practice timesheet topper Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) then took second, but soon the tables turned and it was another Speed Up at the summit – Navarro going 0.185 faster than anyone and Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) going second quickest.
It wasn’t done there though. Manzi then went second ahead of his fellow VR46 Academy rider Marini to all-but seal MV’s first Moto2™ front row of the season. It wouldn’t prove to be P2 though, as that went to Martin in the dying stages of the session as two Spaniards sit first and second at their home round – Navarro a Valencian too. Manzi’s class weekend continues as he picks up his best-ever Grand Prix front row start.
Marini had to settle for P4 in the end, ahead of Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP), who will aim to claim the 2019 runners-up spot from the middle of the second row. Di Giannantonio could do nothing more than watch on as he slipped to P6 from provisional pole.
Binder will have been hoping for more and he’ll scrap with Lüthi for P2 in the World Championship from the front of a third row completed by Augusto Fernandez (FlexBox HP 40) and Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team). Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) completed the top 10.
Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), Mattia Pasini (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2), Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team) and Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) were next up, ahead of 2019 World Champion Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) in P15.
For the first time in his career and ahead of a landmark, Andrea Migno (Mugen Race) has claimed pole position thanks to a 1:38.683 in Moto3™ Q2 at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana. The Italian beat home hero Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) by 0.274 on Saturday afternoon, with Valencian rider Jaume Masia (Mugen Race) completing the front row but a couple of further tenths in arrears.
It was Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) who set the early lightweight class benchmark in the fight for pole, the Italian pocketing a 1:39.603 to lead Masia by a tenth after the riders had completed a couple of flying laps each. However, Migno and Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) then moved the goalposts as the duo shot to P1 and P2 respectively, with Migno holding a fairly considerable two-tenth advantage.
Disaster then struck for Arbolino at Turn 2, however, a highside on the exit sending him out of Q2, although he’s fit to race. Meanwhile, having come into the pits, the lightweight class riders then filed out for their last attacks on pole.
Doing so first was Q1 graduate and reigning Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup Champion Carlos Tatay (Reale Avintia Arizona 77), the future full-time Moto3™ rider slotting his KTM into P3 before a flurry of times came rolling in. Red and orange sectors filled the timing screens but there was one rider going faster than the rest: Migno. 0.3 up after three splits, the Italian took the chequered flag to regain pole position after Ramirez had briefly taken over at the summit. Masia’s second run saw the Spaniard pick up P3 on Saturday afternoon for his first front row start since taking pole in Argentina.
Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team), another home hero and the man in Arbolino’s sights for second overall on Sunday, was one of the last riders to cross the line as he jumped from P13 to P4 on his final lap. Rookie and compatriot Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) starts alongside him as he kept his impressive speed at the venue going at his local venue, ahead of a career best for Filip Salac (Redox PrüstelGP) by far as the Czech rider reaching the top 10 on Saturday for the first time and is sixth.
2019 Champion Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) is 0.597 back from pole as he aims to win four in a row and be the first to do so, and the Italian was followed by two Q1 graduates in P8 and P9 – Suzuki and Darryn Binder (CIP – Green Power). Binder, however, will start from pitlane after a penalty for irresponsible riding. That boosts Romano Fenati (VNE Snipers) up a place after he completed the fastest top 10 in Moto3™ qualifying. Tatay pipped Arbolino just behind.