Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) broke his own 2016 pole lap record at Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli in an adrenaline-fuelled qualifying on the Adriatic, searing around the venue in a 1:31.629 to lower his own fastest laptime and secure Ducati’s first pole at the venue since 2010. Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) put in a stunner at his team’s home race to take second and qualify as top Independent Team rider, with Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) locking out the front row after a last lunge for the front.
One key name missing from that trio? Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), top qualifier this season so far, did not make it onto the front row – he crashed. Lorenzo’s ominous form was certainly a key headline but the drama for the Championship leader lit up the session. Crashing on his second run in a relatively fast lowside, the number 93 was straight to his feet without pause for thought and sprinting to get a lift back to the pits.
Once back in the paddock on the back of a scooter, he hit the ground running again to run through his Repsol Honda garage from front to back, straight back on his other machine and heading back out again. Could he do another ‘Texas 2015’ style pole dash?
The first sector looked like it might it be possible as it lit up red, but the reigning Champion then lost some time and it wasn’t to be. So he’ll line up fifth – his equal worst qualifying in the premier class at the venue – and he’ll have some serious company in the form of Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), who’s just alongside him in fourth.
Behind Dovizioso and Marquez, Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) was sixth and completes the second row, suffering a low-drama crash near the end of the session. And the Brit broke some local hearts, with Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) pushed down to head up the third row.
Rossi has had a weekend of ups and downs so far at his home venue, just making it into that all-important top ten on Friday and continuing worked hard on Saturday to get race ready. In qualifying the rider from Tavullia was hovering around the second row, before just losing out in that last minute shuffle. Row 2 is completed by last year’s podium finisher Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing) and fellow Independent Team rider Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3).
Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was tenth fastest and top Hamamatsu machine after teammate Andrea Iannone just failed to make it through to Q2 – he starts P13 – with two-time Miasano winner Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) in P11. Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) completes the top 12.
Behind Iannone, wildcard compatriot Michele Pirro (Ducati Test Team) took P14 after a crash hampered his chances in Q1, and Alvaro Bautista (Angel Nieto Team) completed the top 15.
So that’s it for the premier class on Saturday. A three-time winner on pole, a dark horse with nothing to lose alongside him and a man who hasn’t won for a year make for an incredible front row – with everything to play for. Marquez and Dovizioso lurk close behind too, and the ‘Doctor’ can never be counted out on race day – especially considering his incredible support around Misano. Who will emerge from the melee ahead? The lights go out at 14:00 (GMT +2).
Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) sealed his first back-to-back pole positions in Grand Prix racing at the Gran Premio Octo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini after setting an unmatchable 1:37.121, with Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) 0.210 back in second, sandwiched between two Italians on the front row as Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) secured P3 for Sunday’s race.
With the track in optimum condition after the premier class qualifying sessions, it didn’t take long for home favourite Bagnaia to grab the top spot, displacing then provisional pole man Pasini by 0.244 seconds, a time he would then beat himself for pole. The Italian duo were then split by Schrötter, who got the better of Pasini’s time by just 0.085 to earn his fourth front row start of the season and his first since Assen. Can he go on to claim his maiden Grand Prix podium on Sunday?
Behind Pasini on track and one place behind him on the gird was fourth place Fabio Quartararo (+ Ego Speed Up Racing), 0.124 from the front row and the only other rider to get within half a second of Bagnaia on Saturday afternoon. Lining up alongside the Frenchman is Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo), who propelled himself into the middle of the second row on his final lap, with Jorge Navarro (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) sixth after briefly leading the leading qualifying in the opening minutes.
Working in tandem with his teammate, Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) will start him home GP from seventh after missing out on the second row by just 0.013s, with Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) and second in the Championship Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) joining him on the third row of the grid in P8 and P9 respectively – the latter suffering a small crash at T4 as he chased a time that could bring him closer to title rival Bagnaia. Joan Mir (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), Dynavolt Intact GP’s Xavi Vierge and Augusto Fernandez (Pons HP40) in P10, P11 and P12 make it an all-Spanish fourth row in Misano.
Home hero Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP40) will start one place behind his teammate in P13, but 2016 winner had a difficult session after crashing twice – rider ok. Will he move through from there? Can Oliveira mount a challenge on title rival and pole man Bagnaia from P9 on the grid? Find out when the intermediate class go into battle at 12:20 local time (GMT +2).
Another weekend, another pole position. Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) secured his 17th Moto3 pole in fine style at the GP Octo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini, smashing the lap record at Misano by 0.324 to spearhead the lightweight class grid behind enemy lines, with Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA BOE Skull Rider) 0.311 behind the Spaniard in second and Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) in third – the Honda rider jumping up the timesheets on his final run.
Blue skies greeted the Moto3 grid for qualifying and the pace was scorching from the outset, with Italians Marco Bezzecchi (Redox PrustelGP), Leopard Racing’s Enea Bastianini, teammate Lorenzo Dalla Porta and Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) challenging for provisional pole, before Rodrigo went quickest shortly before tucking the front at Turn 1 – rider okay.
The standings remained the same before the riders emerged for a final crack at pole and it was qualifying master Martin who set the timesheets alight to take his eighth pole of the season, with Rodrigo and Canet lining up alongside him on the front row. Fourth on the grid and the leading Italian in qualifying is Di Giannantonio, who missed out on a front row start by just 0.001.
Behind the number 21 is a gaggle of home riders, led by Bastianini in fifth, with Championship leader Bezzecchi having to settle for 6th on board his KTM after looking very strong for a home pole throughout. Heading the third row is SKY Racing Team VR46’s Nicolo Buelga who went out in tandem with fellow VR46 Academy riders Dennis Fogia (SKY Racing Team VR46) and Bezzecchi to try and find the fastest lap time possible – P7 for Bulega in the end.
Dalla Porta lines up alongside his compatriot in eighth, with Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PrustelGP) 9th after his fastest lap time was cancelled for exceeding track limits at the final corner – a P2 position on the grid went beckoning for the Czech rider. Rounding out the top ten in qualifying was Japan’s Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing).
There was a crash for Philipp Oettl (Sudmetal Schedl GP Racing) at Turn 2 during the session with the German heading for the medical centre for a checkup.
So it’s another Martin pole position, but will he be able to hold off an Italian attack on Sunday with Bezzecchi searching to maintain his Championship lead on home soil? Find out when the lightweight class go racing at the San Marino GP at 11:00 local time (GMT +2).