2019 MotoGP – Round 10 – Brno
Monster Energy Grand Prix České republiky
Pole positions come and go, lap records are broken, and the paddock inevitably marches on. But every now and then, someone creates a moment that instantly gets inked into the history books, and that’s exactly what Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) did to take pole position in the Monster Energy Grand Prix České republiky.
Slicks in mixed conditions are a recipe for gravel or glory and Marquez rode a bucking bronco to inch perfect precision to produce one of the most stunning qualifying performances in history, annihilating his rivals by over two and a half seconds.
This is the 58th pole position for Marc Marquez on what is his 118th start in the premier class (49.1%), equalling the record of 58 premier class poles held by Mick Doohan. In addition, this is his 86th pole position of his Grand Prix career (43.8%).
If Marc Marquez wins the race at Brno, he will become the fourth rider to reach the milestone of 50 premier class wins along with Valentino Rossi (89 wins), Giacomo Agostini (68) and Mick Doohan (54).
Marc Marquez – P1
“At the start I believed in the slick tyres with how the conditions were changing. In the end when the rain came back and the track got wetter it was difficult! Maybe in hindsight I took a little too much risk, but in the end we finished in a good way and I am happy. Tomorrow it looks like it will be a sunny day, so a normal race. With the conditions we have had, it is hard to know where everyone is but the target is the podium.”
Joining Marquez on the front row are Jack Miller (Pramac Racing), who also took the gamble on slicks, and Johann Zarco (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), who took the first front row for the Austrian factory and his first this season.
Jack Miller is both the highest-placed Ducati and Independent Team rider. This is Miller’s best qualifying result since Misano last year, when he also qualified in second place.
Jack Miller – P2
“It was a very exciting qualifying. The decision to get back on track with slicks, after the first run in wet conditions, was risky but paid off. I tried to push as hard as I could to close the gap with Marquez but it started raining again on the last lap. I am still very happy with this result. We are doing a great job this weekend.”
More milestones for the KTM MotoGP project with Zarco’s front row start. Red Bull KTM capitalised on the changing weather conditions (the Free Practice sessions and Q1 chrono were mostly wet) to stop the RC16 in Parc Ferme and on the front row for the first time thanks to Johann Zarco’s increased competitiveness. The Frenchman was able to excel in the damp and took 1st place in Q1 and set a rapid lap early in the short Q2 blast to capture P3 for the grid.
Johann Zarco – P3
“This feels pretty good because I have been going through a tough time. I’m still struggling but the wet makes a reset for everyone. In the afternoon I found a good way and great confidence: I could [really] feel the bike and the tyres. The strategy to go with slick tyres at the end was complicated and didn’t feel it. [To use] Rain tyres were a bit too hard for Pole Position but I had good lap from earlier in the session. Anyway, this brings a good feeling for the team. I needed this, and shows I still have this fighting spirit that is necessary for this level.”
In Q1, it was also KTM’s time to shine as Zarco reigned ahead of teammate Pol Espargaro, with the two split by just 0.020 and both moving through to contest what looked like a very challenging Q2. And that it turned out to be, with Zarco again the man in the spotlight as the Frenchman took provisional pole with ten minutes remaining, ahead of Espargaro, and a dry line starting to appear on the track.
The drama came first from a fight between Marquez and Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar), with the two getting a little too close for comfort on track before rolling into pitlane in tandem and exchanging a few words. And that’s when the reigning Champion switched to slicks, heading back out with seven minutes left on the clock, as the rain began to return.
Meanwhile, Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) had gone the opposite way, and it looked like Marquez could have made a serious mistake as the Ducati man shot up into second to split the KTMs…and the rain started to fall. But then the red sectors started to appear.
First it was a few tenths, and by the end of the lap it was over a second. At parts of the track it was pouring with rain but the number 93 kept on keeping on, eking out the advantage with utter commitment to the cause and taking over on top.
Miller was also seeing red and moved up to second behind Marquez not long after, and that was surely all she wrote? Not so as both men began another flying lap. For Miller, sadly, it came to an early end as the Australian crashed out. But he’d done enough to keep his impressive second place and once again proved a master of rolling the dice, with everything now left to one man and his slicks: Marquez. Could he improve? He didn’t need to, but the reigning Champion was on a mission.
Four tenths in sector 1 became nearly a second in sector 2, before the third sector saw the timing screens light up with a gap of almost a second and a half. The final sector was where the rain was still coming down though; all that stood between Marquez and pole number 58. That, too, was conquered, with Marquez’ final effort pulling him two and a half seconds clear of the field and a second and a half ahead of his previous best. Mission accomplished, history made.
So he heads Miller and Zarco as the Frenchman earns KTM’s first MotoGP front row start and his best qualifying result since taking pole in Malaysia last year, with Dovizioso putting himself in a solid position for the race in fourth.
Andrea Dovizioso – P4
“After my first run in Q2 I was sure we could have made a further improvement on our time and on my second run, with the hardest rain tyre available, I thought I could lap in 2’05 but I wasn’t sure if that would be enough. In the end I managed to do a good lap and even though I’m not on the front row, it’s OK in any case because today, with the track conditions we encountered, it was very easy to make a mistake; the most important thing was to start as close to the front as possible and we did that. I’m happy above all because in the dry yesterday we were quite fast and tomorrow it looks like there will be good weather for the race. Obviously Marquez is ahead of us, and he’s always very strong, but also Rins and Viñales will be competitive tomorrow. We’ll have to see their choice of tyres and in any case we will have to do a good warm-up to arrive at the race with a good feeling.”
Pol Espargaro lines up in fifth for the second time this season, with Rins ultimately set to launch from sixth.
Pol Espargaro – P5
“A great day for everyone: the team, me and also Johann for the front row and we were all pleased to go through Q1 and to end up where we are in complicated conditions. After yesterday we knew it would involve some risk – especially with the track so wet and then drying – to get through to Q2. Johann has been working all year and I’m happy for him because he’s a good guy. It’s great we both made the Q2 and then those incredible results. Tomorrow will be interesting. It will be a fun race for us.”
Alex Rins – P6
“This sixth place on the grid is positive, I feel that my pace can be good in the dry or the wet, so I’m ready to enjoy tomorrow’s race. The Q2 session was difficult because tyre choice was crucial, it wasn’t a clear decision between the wet and the slick. In the end I tried the gamble of slicks and it didn’t work out because the conditions were half and half, but I’m not really disappointed because my position and pace are good anyway.”
Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) slammed in a late personal best time on the wet tyres to spearhead the third row of the grid in Brno, ‘The Doctor’ leads Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) and Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), who are in eighth and ninth respectively.
Valentino Rossi – P7
“It was a very difficult day, especially for the qualifying. We always had half-and-half conditions and we wanted to try to use the slicks at the beginning, but the conditions weren’t good enough. Before my second run I saw a lot of people go out on slicks, but for me it was too wet. There was not enough time to put on slicks for us. These conditions are always difficult for us, we struggle very much, so starting from the third row is not so bad. I hope for a dry race tomorrow and also for a dry Warm Up, because we have a lot of things to try, especially to make the right tyre choice.”
Danilo Petrucci – P8
“It was a very complicated qualifying session because the track conditions were difficult to interpret. The track was wet and then it gradually got drier, but towards the end of the session it started to rain again and unfortunately I wasn’t able to be quick when I went out on slick tyres. In any case, even though our aim is always to start from the first two rows, row 3 is not bad at all and tomorrow I hope to get a good start and then play my cards in the race, which looks like being dry.”
Maverick Viñales – P9
“The slicks didn‘t work for us. I tried to go out on them, because I spotted the opportunity, but ultimately I think it was a bad decision. We should have followed our plan to go out on the medium wet tyre at the end, I think our position would have been much better, but it is what it is. You have to take the positives. It‘s been a great weekend, I‘m riding fast on the wet and dry, so we need to keep this positivity going for tomorrow. I start from P9, but normally I‘m starting good now and I‘m doing good first laps, so I need to keep going. These mixed conditions were very difficult for us. With more water on the track it was better and I was faster. I’m really confident for tomorrow, because I felt great on the soft tyre in the dry conditions on the Friday, so I think that can be a good choice for us. I don‘t know about the others, but it works really well for our bike. I think tomorrow‘s Warm Up will be very important to decide everything, but anyway the feeling is there, I‘m in good shape, so I think I can do well.”
Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT), Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) and Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) completed the Q2 runners.
Fabio Quartararo – P10
“Practice went really well and we finished in the top ten in really hard conditions. Qualifying was really tricky, and the problem with still being a rookie is that the tricky days are the ones where I learn the most. It was the first time I’ve ridden in conditions like this, so I gained a lot of experience. The main lesson is that maybe I should have pushed more on the first lap, because after that it was really difficult to be fast. But let’s see now what happens tomorrow and whether it is dry or wet for the race.”
Cal Crutchlow – P11
“Qualifying in 11th is not great for the race tomorrow, honestly speaking I think our pace is a little bit faster than that, we’re probably in the top six. I just made a mistake in Q2 that I didn’t take the slicks early enough, I came in a lap later but Marc (Marquez) and Jack (Miller) did an incredible job so I don’t know if I’d have been able to challenge them even if I’d had the slicks on. So overall it wasn’t a great qualifying session for us, but I tried my best and we’ll have to see what we can do in the race. We tried a different set-up in the wet in FP4 which felt a bit better and I think that will work in the dry as well, so we look forward to tomorrow.”
Franco Morbidelli – P12
“We had very mixed conditions in qualifying and we struggled a little bit with the tyre choice. Unfortunately, we made the wrong one. I went with slicks but at the end of my out lap it started raining and there wasn’t enough time to go back in and change them. I didn’t make a flying lap, but 12th position isn’t so bad because we were fast in wet conditions even if it didn’t work out in qualifying. We had good sensations on Friday morning in the dry from the bike too, and now it’s just a case of waiting and seeing what weather conditions come tomorrow.”
The Czech Adrenaline Factory certainly lived up its name on Saturday, as Marquez swept away records and rain for premier class pole 58. But Sunday should be dry, and that’s a whole new ball game… Both Rossi and Dovizioso have been hugely successful at this circuit, will they step up to the plate tomorrow and challenge for the win…?
MotoGP Qualifying Results
|13||Takaaki Nakagami||Q1||+ 0.232|
|15||Sylvain Guintoli||Q1||+ 0.518|
|17||Stefan Bradl||Q1||+ 0.941|
|18||Aleix Espargaro||Q1||+ 1.251|
|20||Karel Abraham||Q1||+ 1.865|
|22||Tito Rabat||Q1||+ 2.282|
|23||Andrea Iannone||Q1||+ 2.890|
Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) is on pole for the Monster Energy Grand Prix České republiky, but there’s much more to the headline than that. The number 73 timed it to perfection on a difficult, mixed track to take two seconds out his closest challenger, Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2), and pick up where he left off in Germany. Lowes starts second after a nevertheless impressive session, with Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40) completing the front row in third…four seconds adrift.
Earlier there was plenty of drama in Q1, with Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) moving up to lead Bo Bendsneyder (NTS RW Racing GP) and Brit Jake Dixon (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) in third, with another impressive performer in fourth as Marco Bezzecchi (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) joined them to move through. Some first timers, some wet weather specialists…and everything to play for in Q2.
The rain was easing off in the second session and times tumbled. After the first five minutes, the top four were the Q1 graduates, with Marco Bezzecchi leading the way, but there was plenty more to come.
Baldassarri took the leap to dry tyres, swiftly followed by Marquez. Then Bo Bendsneyder took a light tumble at Turn 1, rider remounting, as Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) and Sam Lowes started to attack. But it was Fabio Di Giannantonio (Beta Tools Speed Up) who took over at the top at that stage, with Friday’s fastest impressing in the very different conditions, and it was clear that whoever set their flying lap last would be making some serious gains as it continued drying out.
It came down to Marquez vs Lowes, with each sector making it increasingly clear that the number 73 was about to absolutely obliterate the opposition. And that he did, although it was also true of Lowes with everyone else.
A late lap from Lorenzo Baldassarri secured him third on the grid and a front row for the first time with Qatar, although the deficit was sizeable it proved enough. Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) blasted in a lap right at the end to head up row two, turning the tables on compatriot rookie Giannantonio to just pip him on Saturday, with Marco Bezzecchi in sixth making it an all-Italian second row as he took his best Moto2™ grid position since joining the class.
Marcel Schrötter was seventh as he aims for back-to-back podiums, with Bo Bendsneyder in eighth ahead of fellow top performer Jake Dixon. Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40) completed the top ten.
So where’s Championship challenger Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP)? Down in P12 despite his previous wet weather win at Brno. He’ll be looking to move forward on Sunday, as will Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) in 14th, Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 16th and returnee Mattia Pasini (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2 down in 24th….
Marquez seems on an unstoppable roll of late. But race day is set to dawn dry, and the number 73 had serious company before the conditions changed. Can he do it again?
Moto2 Qualifying Results
|5||Fabio Di Giannantoni||Q2||+5.266|
|32||Dimas Ekky Pratama||FP1||+3.420|
Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) celebrated his birthday in style at the Monster Energy Grand Prix České republiky, taking pole position by an impressive four tenths in the wet. He’s perfectly set up for race day after also having been fast on Friday in the dry, and he’ll be joined on the front row by 2016 Brno winner John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and 2015 winner Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse).
But before all that was decided in Q2, after the heavens opened on Saturday morning, Q1 was high risk and there was plenty of drama: Tom Booth-Amos (CIP Green Power) tumbled at Turn 13, Albert Arenas (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) suffered a highside at Turn 3, although he remounted, and Can Öncü (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was teetering on the edge of the top four when he crashed out. The Turk held onto his fourth place, however, joining Raul Fernandez (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team), Makar Yurchenko, (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race) and Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) in going through to Q2.
As Q2 began, conditions were wet wet wet and remained so, with McPhee leading for much of the session. Fernandez was also looking strong, but Arbolino changed the benchmark with two minutes to go and was the first rider in the 2’18s. Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) then shot into second place in the closing stages, but was pipped right at the end by McPhee. Antonelli then did the same to his teammate, dropping Suzuki down to fourth.
Alongside the Japanese rider is Fernandez despite a crash at Turn 3 for the Spaniard, with Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) completing the second row in sixth place as the Championship contender put himself in a solid position for Sunday. Makar Yurchenko took a career-best qualifying position with seventh, ahead of Spanish rider Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai). Japanese rookie Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) locked out the third row.
Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) completed the top ten, ahead of veteran Romano Fenati (VNE Snipers), Qatar winner Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) and youngest ever Grand Prix winner Can Öncü (Red Bull KTM Ajo). Home hero Filip Salac (Redox Prüstel GP) was just behind them, putting in a solid performance for P14.
So who’s missing from the front? Championship leader Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) had a tough qualifying, and the Italian faces a fight back through the field from P17 – qualifying just ahead of teammate Marcos Ramirez, another usual frontrunner.
Moto3 Qualifying Results
|17||Lorenzo Dalla Porta||Q2||+3.859|
|19||Albert Arenas||Q1||+ 0.748|
|21||Darryn Binder||Q1||+ 1.455|