The Italian matches a Stoner record on a scintillating Saturday afternoon at Misano as title leader Quartararo has work to do
For the first time since Casey Stoner in 2007, a Ducati rider has taken four consecutive MotoGP™ pole positions. That man is Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) as the Italian storms through Q1 to grab a crucial Saturday afternoon P1 at the Gran Premio Nolan del Made in Italy e dell’Emilia-Romagna, his 1:33.045 was 0.025s quicker than teammate Jack Miller as factory Ducati snatch a 1-2. Luca Marini (SKY VR46 Avintia) earned a maiden MotoGP™ front row start to make is three Ducatis on the front row, as World Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) fails to make it out of Q2 and will start 15th.
The Q1 battle – Bagnaia through, Quartararo out
Ahead of the pole position shootout, the top two in the World Championship faced Q1 on a treacherous Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli layout. Slick tyres were the way forward on a drying track, as Quartararo and Bagnaia began their most important 15 minutes of the season.
After two flying laps, it was Quartararo and Bagnaia 1-2 – but the times were tumbling lap after lap as the riders gained confidence in the very tricky conditions. With five minutes to go, it was so far, so good for the title contenders. However, Iker Lecuona (Tech3 KTM Factory Racing) and Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol) were making life difficult for the Frenchman.
Crashes for Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), Michele Pirro (Ducati Lenovo Team) and Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) in quick succession brought out numerous yellow flags. Bad news for Quartararo, because he was third – with Pecco P1. Alex Marquez was P2, and this was tense.
Following Quartararo, Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) pinched P2 to demote Quartararo to P3 – as yellow flags then came out for an Enea Bastianini (Avintia Esponsorama) crash. That meant Quartararo’s session was done, his lap would be cancelled and for the first time in his MotoGP™ career, the World Championship leader would not be taking part in Q2 – P15 for El Diablo. On his final flying lap, Lecuona grabbed a late P2 to pinch a Q2 spot.
Nolan Made in Italy Emilia Romagna GP: MotoGP™ Q1
The tale of a tantalising Q2
Heading onto his first flying lap, Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) produced a fine save tipping into Turn 2, which demonstrated the lack of grip out there in Q2. And demonstrating their 15-minute extra knowledge on track, the top two after the first flying laps were Bagnaia and Lecuona. On his next lap, Pecco extended his advantage to 1.2s over Lecuona as Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) crashed unhurt at Turn 8.
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Martin then crashed again, this time at Turn 16 – rider ok – as Danilo Petrucci (Tech3 KTM Factory Racing) shot up to P2. The Italian wasn’t there for long though as Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) climbed to P2, with Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) claiming provisional P3. It was all kicking off though. Marc Marquez recovered from his early scare to take P3 with four minutes to go, Miller made it a Ducati 1-2 at the summit.
Miller improved on his next lap to go 0.025s off teammate Pecco, as Petrucci became the next rider to crash – Turn 6 this time. Teammate Lecuona crashed unhurt as more yellow flags came out, then Marc Marquez was down at Turn 6 before we saw Marini stick in a wonderful last lap to earn a first front row start in MotoGP™.
At the end of an incredibly stressful pair of qualifying sessions, Bagnaia becomes just the fourth rider to go from Q1 to pole – a huge, huge result for Pecco with Quartararo 15th.
Behind the trio of Ducati riders on the front row, Pol Espargaro is joined by Oliveira and Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) on Row 2 – the latter is the only Yamaha rider in the top 14 at Misano. Marc Marquez had to settle for seventh after a troubled Q2, Lecuona lines up alongside his compatriot in P8 for his best-ever MotoGP™ qualifying result. Petrucci makes it a day to remember for Tech3 KTM Factory Racing on the Italian’s final race on home soil, as 10th place Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) suffers a late crash in his pursuit of a better starting place. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) and the double crash for Martin see the Spaniards launch from P11 and P12.
Match point Sunday – will the title be decided?
So, how about that. Quartararo fails to make it into Q2 for the first time ever, as Pecco capitalises to grab pole. Now, it’s time to look ahead to match point Sunday. Can Quartararo claw his way through the pack and claim the title, or can Pecco do enough to spoil the Frenchman’s party? Find out at 14:00 local time (GMT+2) on Sunday afternoon.
1. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) – 1:33.045
2. Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) + 0.025
3. Luca Marini (SKY VR46 Avintia) + 0.085
4. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) + 0.268
5. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) + 0.394
6. Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 0.481
7. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) + 0.805
8. Iker Lecuona (Tech3 KTM Factory Racing) + 0.848
9. Danilo Petrucci (Tech3 KTM Factory Racing) + 1.095
10. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) + 1.642
11. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) + 1.918
12. Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) + 51.586