MotoGP: Franco Morbidelli heads PETRONAS Yamaha 1-2 with debut pole
Franco Morbidelli has claimed his first MotoGP pole position at Catalunya ahead of team-mate Fabio Quartararo and future team-mate Valentino Rossi.
The premier class took to the track in Q1 with a list of top riders such as championship leader Andrea Dovizioso aboard his GP20, alongside fellow Ducati riders Jack Miller and the in-form Francesco Bagnaia. Joining the fight for a position in Q2 was Suzuki’s Alex Rins, four riders you wouldn’t expect to see feature in the opening 15-minute session.
The session began with Dovizioso taking top spot with a slightly lacklustre time of a 1:40.467 before being demoted to the drop zone by the injured Cal Crutchlow who replaced the Italian at the top of the timesheets by three-tenths of a second with a low 1:40.124.
With seven minutes to go in the first session, the Pramac boys came to life seeing Bagnaia lead Aleix Espargaro on their hot laps. The Spaniard celebrating 15 years in the paddock, found a great tow in the Italian and the Australian screen-biter Jack Miller in behind the pair. As the first run concluded Miller headed the Aprilia of Espargaro, with Crutchlow third and Bagnaia fourth after showing the two-top men around.
As the final time-attack began Miller headed out on his own early with 5 minutes remaining, Espargaro followed the Australian out, looking for a traditional tow. While Dovizioso was unable to find pace on his final run, while on the other side of the track, Honda man Takaaki Nakagami went second spot to head into Q2 for the Japanese motorcycle giants.
Miller further extended his lead to go top again with a 1:39.399 and will head into Q2 with Nakagami who set a late charge into Q2. Championship leader Andrea Dovizioso will start 17th after more qualifying issues with his GP20.
As Q2 began all riders headed out on soft tyres and Franco Morbidelli took a very brief provisional pole after his team-mate, and one of the pole favourites went wide and aborted his first run at turn 10. Morbidelli was then demoted by newly announced PETRONAS Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi and his current team-mate, Maverick Vinales. That wasn’t it for Morbidelli as he bounced back to set a sensational lap of a 1:39.110, which was the fastest lap of the weekend.
As the final runs began, Quartararo tried to make up for his ill-fated first run, setting a banker lap to go second behind team-mate Morbidelli, a lap in the same tenth of the Italian. Quartararo followed up a lap later to take pole position over Morbidelli, but the Italian fought back on his third lap to take pole back and was the first rider to bite into the 1:38’s with a 1:38.798 to claim pole.
The front row was an all PETRONAS affair with Franco Morbidelli claiming pole with outgoing PETRONAS Yamaha rider Fabio Quartararo second and newly-signed SRT rider Valentino Rossi rounding out the front row. Rossi, who hasn’t won a race since Assen in 2017, has demonstrated a strong race pace and the 41-year-old Italian is in the hunt for the victory tomorrow.
The MotoGP warm up’s begin tomorrow at 10:40 local time. The MotoGP race will begin on a later schedule due to interference from the F1 Russian GP and will begin at 15:00 local time.
Full Q2 results: (MotoGP.com)
|1||21||Franco MORBIDELLI||ITA||Petronas Yamaha SRT||Yamaha||339.6||1’38.798|
|2||20||Fabio QUARTARARO||FRA||Petronas Yamaha SRT||Yamaha||345.0||1’39.008||0.210 / 0.210|
|3||46||Valentino ROSSI||ITA||Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||345.0||1’39.129||0.331 / 0.121|
|4||43||Jack MILLER||AUS||Pramac Racing||Ducati||350.6||1’39.225||0.427 / 0.096|
|5||12||Maverick VIÑALES||SPA||Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||343.9||1’39.371||0.573 / 0.146|
|6||5||Johann ZARCO||FRA||Esponsorama Racing||Ducati||346.1||1’39.378||0.580 / 0.007|
|7||44||Pol ESPARGARO||SPA||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||345.0||1’39.495||0.697 / 0.117|
|8||36||Joan MIR||SPA||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||Suzuki||345.0||1’39.628||0.830 / 0.133|
|9||9||Danilo PETRUCCI||ITA||Ducati Team||Ducati||347.2||1’39.641||0.843 / 0.013|
|10||33||Brad BINDER||RSA||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||346.1||1’39.659||0.861 / 0.018|
|11||30||Takaaki NAKAGAMI||JPN||LCR Honda IDEMITSU||Honda||343.9||1’39.713||0.915 / 0.054|
|12||88||Miguel OLIVEIRA||POR||Red Bull KTM Tech 3||KTM||341.7||1’40.188||1.390 / 0.475|
Featured image: MotoGP.com