The PTT Thailand Grand Prix MotoGP qualifying session burst into life, as the first four rows on the grid were there for the taking. The Chang International Circuit had been subject to a deluge of rain earlier on in the afternoon, but the sun was shining brightly for an electric afternoon session of MotoGP qualifying. After a titanic duel, it was Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) who got the better of Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and Champion-elect, Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team).
The first times came in and it was a head-to-head duel for the outright lap record. Marc Marquez went top initially and was just a fraction away from the lap record, but it would be first blood drawn for Fabio Quartararo, as the Frenchman stormed on to be the first rider to complete a lap of the Chang International Circuit on a motorcycle in less than 90 seconds during a full-blooded race weekend. Marquez also went sub-90 seconds but was no match for Quartararo. Maverick Viñales was pushing hard and completed a long first stint and was third.
It was disaster for Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), as the nine-time World Champion crashed unceremoniously at Turn 5, with the front-end tucking as he looked to make the apex. In a frantic hurry, ‘The Doctor’ returned to the pits and went straight back out on the second of his Yamaha M1 machines. After his first go at it, he was tenth. Rossi wouldn’t be the only rider to bin it at Turn 5…
As the field took to the circuit again, more history would reign down on the MotoGP grid, and high drama would provide one of the most exciting finishes to a session of the year. Quartararo, not content with his lap record, went even quicker, blitzing his own lap record and securing a 1’29.719 on his seventh lap. This made it his fourth pole position of the season, a stunning achievement for the Independent team rider.
Drama awaited the rookie though, as he crashed at Turn 5. And he had reason to want to push for an even better lap record, as Maverick Viñales ended up just 0.106s behind his fellow Yamaha-man in second. Marquez was demoted to third and he wouldn’t get the chance of fighting back for pole either, as he too had already crashed at Turn 5. Marquez would be third for the first time since Jerez, on a day when Quartararo headed a Yamaha 1-2 as well…
Row two features another Yamaha, with the Japanese manufacturer securing three of their bikes inside the top four, something they achieved on Friday too. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) was right in the mix all the way through the session but ended up half-a-second back of the front row. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team), fresh from Q1, was best Ducati in fifth place for his best qualifying result since Mugello, when he was third. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) completes the second row.
It is a star-studded third row with no less than 11 World Championships coming from there. Andrea Dovizioso’s (Ducati Team) ambitions of keeping his title hopes alive took a blow as he was only able to manage seventh, whilst Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) took his best qualifying slot since he was 5th at Assen. Valentino Rossi remounted and salvaged ninth and a third row start, having been second on the grid in 2018.
Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) completed the top ten and heads up row four, ahead of Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and his brother Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini). All six manufacturers are represented inside the top four rows, making for an exciting race tomorrow.
1 Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT)
2 Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) +0.106
3 Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) +0.212
4 Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) +0.712
5 Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) +0.803
6 Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) +0.878
7 Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) +0.973
8 Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) +1.016
9 Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) +1.022
10 Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) +1.059