MotoGP 2018 Valencia Qualifying
It was seven-time Champion Marquez who led the field onto the first flying lap but then at Turn 4, the 2018 Champion suddenly lost the front and went down. The pain and anguish was writ large on the Spaniard as he clutched his limp left arm, his shoulder dislocated yet again, but this time looked more painful than ever as he returned to his motorhome. But minutes later Marquez was back on track, and back on the pace… What a machine.
In the absence of Marquez, it had been Dovizioso was setting the pace, but then Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing) got the better of his compatriot to set the first 1:31 of the session before blitzing the field again on his next lap – a 1:31.531 becoming the time to beat.
Then with six-minutes to go, a warrior emerged in the form of Marquez as he left pit-lane and all eyes were on the seven-time Champion. Before the 93 crossed the line though, Viñales shot to the top to take provisional pole…
Red sectors were lighting up the screens in the final minutes of the session though and it was Viñales who went quicker again to make 0.068 his margin at the top, with the miraculous Marquez climbing back up to P3. The World Champion was going for it again to take pole but then another moment at turn one put an end to his chances.
But there was still time for change elsewhere as Rins was then threatening to take pole on his final lap. In the end, however, a breathless qualifying ended with Viñales spearheading the grid after his first pole on a Saturday since Aragon last year, with his Americas GP pole this season resulting from a Marquez penalty.
Maverick Viñales – P1
“Great to be back on pole and to be on the front row. The target for today was to be on the first or second row, and in the end we got pole, so that’s something amazing and unbelievable. I’m so happy, to finish the season in that form, feeling really strong. Honestly, I can’t say anything more than that, I’m just happy. However, I will take it session by session. We did good in the qualifying and I’m excited about tomorrow, but tomorrow is another day. It could rain, or maybe not, we don’t know – we have to be ready for all conditions. I think the bike, in the rain, still needs to be improved. The bike we have right now is in the top-10, but let’s see. I’m curious what will happen. It’s very important to start from pole, because if you’re at the front in the first laps it’s better. I’ll do my best, but there’s no pressure. It’s the last race of the season. I will give everything, but I don’t pay too close attention to the championship standings right now, I’m just going to enjoy the time on the bike and let’s see if we can be at the top.”
Rins and ‘DesmoDovi’ complete the front row, and Petrucci is top Independent Team rider in fourth, gunning for that title on Sunday too.
Alex Rins – P2
“I’m happy. For sure I would’ve liked to get pole, I was very close to it. But the most important thing is that after the second crash of the day I’m OK, it was quite a heavy fall and I wasn’t feeling great afterwards. Luckily I was still able to get 2nd place. The bike was working well today, despite the mixed conditions. Tomorrow will be wet but I think I can stay in the lead group, the target will be the podium. I’d like to finish this year in the best way possible.”
Andrea Dovizioso – P3
“The qualifying session went well and I’m very happy, because starting up at the front is always important, especially here at Valencia. This morning we made a big step forward in the rain, and it was important to be ready in case of a wet qualifying session. In fact, Q2 was held on a dry track surface and we were able in any case to find a good set-up and set a good time. For the race we have a good chance, but it will almost certainly rain and in that case anything can happen.”
Danilo Petrucci – P4
“I am very satisfied because we did well in both wet and dry conditions. Honestly there is a bit of disappointment because I could have won the front row but that’s okay. We are competitive but it is clear that in rain I will feel better this week end”.
Marquez’ miracle top-five performance sees him remain well in the mix.
Marc Marquez – P5
“Qualifying today was a bit unlucky as I crashed in the first right-hand corner on my first flying lap, and I soon felt something strange in my shoulder. Luckily, when I got back to my truck and tried a few movements, we realized it wasn’t that bad and I started to feel better. When the doctors arrived and checked it, it was all back in its place and I was ready to get back on my bike. I didn’t push as usual though, as it was better to stay on the bike! Only one tenth off the pole isn’t bad so tomorrow, race day, will be another day.”
Just behind the reigning Champion, sixth made it a great day for Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) with the Spaniard just 0.265 from pole in KTM’s equal best qualifying performance.
Pol Espargaro – P6
“With everything we have been through this season this feels a bit more than a [great] qualification session for us. It means quite a lot and I’m feeling happy, and for the boys in the pitbox. I think we did the maximum today – just two tenths from first place – and we didn’t expect to be so close in the dry. We were always in the top ten in the wet and in very tricky conditions. We are good here and it means we need to think about what we can copy for the other circuits. Most of it is to with the fact that I am coming back to my normal speed. I think we are in a position for a nice result. I don’t think we have had an opportunity like this so far with KTM but we must take it calmly tomorrow.”
Pol Espargaro just ahead of Q1 graduate Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) in P7, with Aleix Espargaro’s (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) P8 the final piece in the puzzle that saw all six manufacturers inside the top eight, split by just 0.318.
Andrea Iannone – P7
“For sure it’s been a difficult day because I had a crash, and in the wet conditions it’s very tricky. In Q1 I had a better feeling with the bike and I was able to get a great lap time. When it came to Q2 I didn’t have the same pace, and I used a different tyre so the feeling was different. But in any case, tomorrow I’ll start on the 3rd row and it’s OK. Set-up is not easy here, especially when it’s raining or half-wet, half-dry. We’ll try to stay in the top group tomorrow, let’s see what happens!”
Aleix Espargaro – P8
“I’m happy with how the entire weekend has gone and not just because of the performance today. Yesterday we were consistently competitive even in the wet. This morning in FP3 I crashed right in the final moments. I raced back to the garage and with the second bike I managed to do the ninth time and go through to Q2, so that is positive and very important. Then, in qualifying I struggled on the first turn, but despite this, we finished just three tenths behind the pole position time. My RS-GP worked well both in the wet and on dry asphalt. We have a good pace and that makes me confident for the race, but I am also happy with the many indications that we are gathering in view of the tests next week and for the 2019 bike.”
In his final ever qualifying, Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) claimed P9 to start from the outside of the third row after some difficulties in FP4 that affected his QP, with Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) suffering his fourth crash of the weekend to start P10 but automatically through to Q2 once again.
Dani Pedrosa – P9
“Today in the dry FP4 I had an issue with the bike’s setup that we weren’t able to adjust before qualifying, so I went out still struggling a bit. I did my best but didn’t manage to get a better position for tomorrow. If it rains tomorrow track conditions will be the key, as whether there’s a lot or a little water on the asphalt will affect the feeling a lot. This morning I ultimately found a good feeling in the wet, but it took me a long time. So let’s wait and see how the weather is and see what we can do tomorrow.”
Jack Miller – P10
“I’m disappointed. I was convinced that I could qualify well and I pushed hard but I crashed. I have to find a better feeling with the front tyre but the race pace is very interesting. I am confident that I can have a good race tomorrow”.
While on a lap that was 0.3 under, Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) also crashed at Turn 10 to start P11 – rider ok, with Michele Pirro (Ducati Team) settling for P12 after making it straight into Q2 from Free Practice.
Johann Zarco – P11
“Saturday in Valencia has been a good day. In FP3 we did some great work with the team and I could manage the decisive practice well, caught a top 5 result and made it to Q2. So I was happy, but at the same time there was not so much water on the track. This gave me great confidence, although the bike was not perfect. In the afternoon, we had dry conditions. I enjoyed it and was quite competitive. I began the Qualifying not too good, because something was missing on the bike. We tried to change it a bit to get an enhanced feeling. When I restarted with the second new tyre my feeling improved immediately a lot. I could control the bike better, but trying to be fast on the first flying lap, I crashed in turn 10. It’s a right corner, so maybe the front tyre was still a bit cold and also because the conditions were not 100 percent clear. It’s a pity, because the potential for the first row was there today. Now we start in 11th position. Anyway, we will see what happens tomorrow and hope to have a strong race from the beginning to the end in order to play with Danilo Petrucci and Alex Rins.”
Jorge Lorenzo narrowly missed out on going through to Q2.
Jorge Lorenzo – P13
“We went out on track for Q1 without any real data because in all the other sessions the track was wet. I think I did a good time, which was quite a surprise, and for just a few thousandths of a second I couldn’t get into Q2. In the end it was Viñales who knocked me off the top 2 spots in Q1 and then he set pole, so for this reason I think that if I had gone through I would have been a lot further up the grid. In any case it’s highly likely that tomorrow’s race will be held in the rain and we’ll find completely different conditions to today so we’ll try and bring home the best possible result.”
Another star failing to make it through Q1 was Valentino Rossi, The Doctor starts P16 after a tough day at the office.
Valentino Rossi – P16
“It was a difficult day, very tough. On the wet yesterday I felt comfortable, so I was quite optimistic this morning that I could finish in the top-10 because it was still wet. I tried to push at the beginning and I crashed with one bike, but apart from that I was not fast enough in FP3 anyway to go through to Q2. After that the conditions changed and it became drier, so from the morning to the afternoon we changed something on the bike, but in reality I never felt good and couldn’t push 100% in the afternoon. At the end, I improved my lap time in Q1, but it wasn’t enough to get into Q2, so we start from very far back, which will be hard. We have to work and try as hard as possible, and we also have to wait and see what the conditions will be like tomorrow morning, because the forecast is very bad.”
|1||Andrea IANNONE ↑||Suzuki||313.6||1’31.382|
|2||Maverick VIÑALES ↑||Yamaha||314.9||1’31.858|
|Fastest Lap:||Lap: 6||Andrea IANNONE||1’31.382||157.7 Km/h|
|Circuit Record Lap:||2016||Jorge LORENZO||1’31.171||158.1 Km/h|
|Best Lap:||2016||Jorge LORENZO||1’29.401||161.2 Km/h|
The clouds loomed for Moto2 qualifying but it stayed dry and as the clock ticked towards the 10-minute remaining mark, it was Marini who led the way. Schrötter then took over at the top to better the Italian by 0.080 but he wasn’t going down without a fight. Straight away the Malaysian GP race winner leapfrogged the German to head the field again – 0.007 the gap. Then, the Italian went quicker once more to move the goal posts further, with 0.201 his advantage over the field.
Vierge was then on a mission, but could he topple Marini’s time? Nearly, but not quite. The Spaniard crossed the line just 0.027 off to go to P2. Personal best laps were incoming, but nothing would trouble Marini at the summit – a second pole of the year was the Italian’s, with Vierge’s time also unable to be bettered. Schrötter tried to climb up the front row but despite setting his best time on his final lap, the German would remain P3 – 0.168 off pole.
2018 World Champion Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) managed to launch himself up to P4 at the chequered flag as he prepares to go into battle for the final time in the intermediate class on Sunday and compatriot Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP40) also managed to improve on his last lap to go from P7 to P5. He now starts one place ahead of Sam Lowes (Swiss Innovative Investors) in P6 after Lowes’ best qualifying result since the German GP. But just 0.001 behind the British rider was Joan Mir (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) in seventh, who in turn was just 0.044 ahead of countryman Augusto Fernandez (Pons HP40) – another top result with P8 for the Spaniard getting him into the top ten in the latter stages.
Fabio Quartararo (HDR Heidrun – Speed Up) was ninth, with the two Red Bull KTM Ajo machines next up – P10 for Miguel Oliveira, P11 for Brad Binder.
|Moto2 Qualifying Results|
|9||Fabio QUARTARARO||Speed Up||255.6||1’36.396|
|15||Khairul Idham PAWI||Kalex||258.8||1’36.572|
|17||Remy GARDNER||Tech 3||252.0||1’36.595|
|25||Hector GARZO||Tech 3||253.0||1’37.444|
|27||Tommaso MARCON||Speed Up||254.1||1’37.483|
|Fastest Lap:||Lap: 18||Luca MARINI||1’35.777||150.5 Km/h|
|Circuit Record Lap:||2014||Thomas LUTHI||1’35.312||151.2 Km/h|
|Best Lap:||2016||Johann ZARCO||1’34.879||151.9 Km/h|
It was a hectic start to the Moto3 qualifying session as several riders went down in the opening exchanges on a drying Circuit Ricardo Tormo. Marco Bezzecchi (Redox PreustelGP) was the man to lead the opening exchanges, but he crashed his KTM machine at Turn 8. 2018 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup Champion Can Öncü (Red Bull KTM Ajo) then took over at the summit, but he also went down at Turn 8 – the Turkish rider able get straight back on track but the Italian having to get his bike fixed.
As they have been all weekend, the track conditions were tricky but with no rain falling, a slight dry line started to appear as the times continued to tumble, with Atiratphuvapat sitting 0.2 clear with 12 minutes remaining. However, with his bike repaired, Bezzecchi then took over at the top but by only 0.027.
The track was getting drier and drier and the times started to get faster, with Raul Fernandez (Angel Nieto Team Moto3) and Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PruestelGP) taking over at the top soon after and from there on in, the red sectors were coming from across the board as five minutes remained. Pole position? Anyone’s guess at that stage – but there were still no gamblers changing from wets.
With two to go, it was Atiratphuvapat on top by 0.188 but half the field were lighting up the timing screens with red sectors as some began to gamble on slicks. Arbolino was one of them and he moved the goal posts by over a second, so could that be beaten? Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) got within 0.3 of the Italian as they homed in, before Arbolino went even quicker to set a 1:46.773; the insurmountable time that would earn the Italian pole.
Öncü then leapt up to a stunning P2 on his final run, before McPhee and then Atiratphuvapat just bumped the 15-year-old wildcard down to fourth and the front of the second row. He’s joined by Canet who ended the session P5 after the late flurry of times, with Bezzecchi starting from the outside of the second row in his last Moto3™ race – P6 for the Italian.
After a crash, Marcos Ramirez (Bester Capital Dubai) managed to get himself up to P7 at the end of the session, with Kornfeil settling for eighth. Ninth went to Albert Arenas (Angel Nieto Team Moto3), the Spaniard another rider to crash during the session, with teammate and wildcard Fernandez rounding out the top ten in another impressive showing.
The sensational qualifying session ends with some big names down the order: 2018 Champion Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) starts P13, with teammate Fabio Di Giannantonio P15 and Enea Bastianini (Leopard Racing) sandwiched between the two in P14.
|Moto3 Qualifying Results|
|15||Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO||Honda||214.7||1’48.357|
|20||Lorenzo DALLA PORTA||Honda||218.4||1’48.894|
|Fastest Lap:||Lap: 17||Tony ARBOLINO||1’46.773||135.0 Km/h|
|Circuit Record Lap:||2017||Marcos RAMIREZ||1’39.109||145.4 Km/h|
|Best Lap:||2017||Jorge MARTIN||1’38.428||146.4 Km/h|