Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP rider has turned a tough Friday around by claiming pole position for the Austrian Grand Prix ahead of Pramac Racing’s Jack Miller and second Yamaha rider, Fabio Quartararo
Qualifying one was full of big names with Johann Zarco, Danilo Petrucci and Cal Crutchlow, Brno winner – Brad Binder and nine-time champion, Valentino Rossi all facing the first 15-minute qualifying session.
At the end of the first stint of flying laps, Johann Zarco blasted to the top of the timesheets with the fasted time of the weekend. His 1:23.865 was +0.4s clear of Italian duo Danilo Petrucci and Valentino Rossi.
However, with just two places available to make it into the pole shootout, the second half of qualifying was going to be an exciting one, albeit an exciting battle for second.
Rossi was the first rider back on to the Austrian tarmac but it was compatriot Danilo Petrucci who was the first rider to improve his lap time becoming the second rider to break into the 1:23s – despite losing time to Aleix Espargaro who impeded the Ducati rider.
As the final lap of qualifying got underway, red sectors were lighting the timesheets. Petrucci improved his lap time but Rossi knocked his fellow Italian out of qualifying two. Johann Zarco lead Valentino Rossi into the the second 15-minute qualifying shootout.
As the green flag dropped for Q2, Maverick Viñales was the first rider on track, after topping the morning’s FP3 session.
After the first flying laps it was Frenchman Fabio Quartararo who toppled Viñales. The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP rider responded on his second flying lap to regain the advantage as once again the two Yamaha riders duked it out for pole.
Miguel Oliveira jumped up onto the front row, briefly before being knocked back to the bottom of the timesheets.
Viñales’ pole lap was cancelled, promoting Quartararo back to the top of the timesheets, but once again Maverick responded with a 1:23.694 retaking provisional pole. Andrea Dovizioso jumped up to sixth fastest as the first set of flying laps came to a close.
The final frantic five minutes of qualifying got underway with Valentino Rossi being the first rider back on track. Rossi improved on his first flying lap, albeit by a few hundredths and remained in eighth.
Viñales was the first rider to seriously improve his lap time, further moving the goalposts to a 1:23.643 and carried his form into his next flying lap. However, Andrea Dovizioso looked to better Viñales’ time, and did. Viñales responded immediately, smashing it out of the park with a 1:23.450 while following Suzuki’s Joan Mir.
Franco Morbidelli and Alex Rins were next to improve setting the fourth and fifth fastest times and Quartararo and Espargaro jumped onto the front row.
As the session came to a close, more red sectors were lighting up the timesheets. Pol Espargaro couldn’t improve his time, while Jack Miller fired his Pramac Ducati into second behind Maverick Viñales and ahead of Quartararo.
Dovizioso was fourth fastest ahead of home manufacturer’s Pol Espargaro and Joan Mir.
The third row was headed by Franco Morbidelli with Rins and Zarco filling the eighth and ninth positions. Takaaki Nakagami was once again top Honda and will start in tenth ahead of Miguel Oliveira and Valentino Rossi, who once again has work to do come Sunday.
Lights will go out for the fourth round of the season at 14:00 local time.