2020 MotoGP Round 13 – Valencia Qualifying
MotoGP Qualifying Report
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pol Espargaro picked up a phenomenal second pole position of 2020 after mastering the wet conditions in Q2 at the Gran Premio de Europa, the Spaniard slamming in a late 1:40.434 to head a front row covered by less than a tenth.
Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) starts second as the top title challenger, just 0.041 back, with Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) claiming the final front row slot despite a late crash.
The grid is a fascinating one ahead of lights out, with Championship challengers scattered throughout and, of course, Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) also starting from pitlane due to exceeding his engine allocation.
First, FP4 pacesetter Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech3) and FP3 leader Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing) emerged through the Q1 shootout on top in wet but drying conditions. The sun was shining for Q2 but the asphalt still wet; a dry line appearing but nowhere near dry enough to risk slicks. High stakes, anyone?
Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) pulled straight back into pitlane after his out lap, a tyre change on for the Italian, but it wasn’t to slicks. Rins then set a 1:42.420 and the first time of the session, but that was going to be beaten fairly quickly as some of the Q1 contenders dipped into the 1:41s, already dialled in. The number 42 Suzuki did then set a 1:41.714 to extend his lead though, and teammate Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was next up as he went quicker by a tenth to sit on provisional pole.
The Suzuki stranglehold was then beaten by Nakagami as Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) peeled into the pitlane despite being on a great lap, but the lead then changed again. Morbidelli was back on top, but Rins was on a roll and topped the session for the third lap in a row; the Aragon GP winner in fine form.
Nakagami was then on another flyer. The Japanese rider was 0.3 seconds faster at the second split and over half a second up through Sector 3, coming round the final corner and firing his RC213V to the line to take over by seven tenths – goalposts well and truly moved. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) was the first man trying to respond, the Australian straight down to business to take P2 despite waiting to head out, but a mistake at the final corner cost him time.
Meanwhile, Mir then improved his time to go P3 as Dovizioso’s next time was only good enough for P12 as the wet weather form book seemed to take a hit. There was time left yet though and Rins was through the third split 0.041 up, the number 42 just pipping Nakagami by 0.005 seconds over the line. The Japanese rider then crashed at the final corner though, so that was his session over…
In the end, it all came down to a tense final minute. Rins was once again going faster and faster, 0.079 seconds under and looking set to challenge, but there was a flying KTM about to join the party at the top: Pol Espargaro. The Spaniard, who picked up both his and KTM’s first MotoGP podium at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in 2018, crossed the line to take provisional pole and show yet more wet weather mastery. Could Rins ruin KTM’s afternoon? Not quite – but it was close. 0.041 was the gap between the two and next attention turned to Zarco, because the Frenchman was flying.
0.196 up through Sector 3 looked like it might be the two-time Moto2 World Champion’s time to shine, but a mistake at the final corner then saw the Ducati man lose time. Just enough, although it was only covered by a tenth, to lose out on the front row. The number 5 went fourth, and it all came down to Rins. Could the Suzuki rider make one last ditch attempt to snatch pole? Not quite. It was another good lap but the Spaniard had to settle for P2, the search for premier class pole continuing.
And so, another breathless wet qualifying session ends with Pol Espargaro and KTM on top. The number 44 earns his second pole position of the season as Rins claims his second consecutive front row, and that can also be said for Nakagami. Three manufacturers in the top three positions, and all three are looking strong in Valencia. Two could also become the ninth different winner of 2020 on Sunday…
So could Zarco, who was unlucky to miss out on the front row but after negotiating Q1, heading up the second row is a solid Saturday afternoon. Championship leader Mir will launch from P5 after some good work on home soil, and he’s another big candidate to become that ninth winner. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) completes Row 2 and that’s the Aprilia rider’s best Saturday afternoon outing since his P4 at the Czech GP earlier this year, and Aprilia’s best at Valencia in the MotoGP era.
After showing strong pace all weekend, Miller was forced to settle for P7 and the head of the third row, ahead of Oliveira. The Portuguese rider was the last man within a second of Pol Espargaro after improving on his last lap. Next up is top Yamaha rider Morbidelli in ninth and the Italian has some work to do on Sunday afternoon, with Mir and Rins ahead of him. Crucially, however, there are three title contenders behind him…
Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) rounds out the top 10, the South African just over a tenth faster than one of said title challengers: 11th place Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT). It wasn’t the ideal Saturday for the man second in the standings but thankfully for El Diablo, Sunday looks like it will be dry – he’ll likely be hoping so. Dovizioso’s Q2 didn’t go to plan either, the Italian well adrift of Pol Espargaro by the flag and set to start P12.
And then, in terms of the top six in the standings, there’s Viñales. The Spaniard will start from pitlane on Sunday, looking to do some damage limitation. His returning team-mate Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) starts from P17 too… so what can they each do?
The scene is set with a grid that promises another truly stunning Sunday. Will it be a ninth winner? More Championship drama? Another maiden winner? Some history-making is entirely possible, with Pol Espargaro, Nakagami, Zarco and Mir all starting in the top five and on the verge of some serious stats.
MotoGP Rider Quotes
Pol Espargaro – P1
“I don’t know how that lap came along! I was sitting in the box in Q1 watching Miguel riding so well and so smooth and decided to go all-in and really push for the one lap that was very difficult in these conditions. I felt fast and even had a little left for the final corners. When I saw the 40.4 time I said: ‘that’s enough for today’. We’ll go for it tomorrow now.”
Alex Rins – P2
“The conditions were so bad during qualifying, but I’m really happy and excited to start on the front row tomorrow in second place. It seems that we’ll have dry conditions tomorrow, so I hope in Warm-Up I can try a few things – at the moment the dry setup is like a mystery! But I’m sure we can find something and enter the race feeling good; at the moment I feel really strong. I’m aiming to get a good start and see how the race plays out.”
Takaaki Nakagami – P3
“I’m so happy to get back-to-back front rows, this time it was not pole position but P3 is a great result. At the end of qualifying (Q2) I had a small mistake, I was pushing too much and I had a crash in the last corner, but it was a good thing that I gave my best in these kind of conditions and we were able to get a front row. I want to thank all my team and let’s see what happens tomorrow, I’m ready to fight for the race.”
Johann Zarco – P4
“It has been a great day for me in water conditions where I have some advantage. The good lap was canceled due to the crash of Nakagami and on the last lap launched I tried again, but I made a small mistake with which I lost a tenth, but still I am in fourth position. Tomorrow it will surely be in dry conditions, during the warm-up we will work hard to get to the race strong. I’m very excited about tomorrow’s race.”
Joan Mir – P5
“So far we haven’t ridden in dry conditions, so it will be strange coming into tomorrow if the weather is good, and it could be difficult to find the setup. Anyway, I’m really satisfied with the work done today, the Team and I have done a great job to find a good feeling in the wet, which has allowed me to get a decent grid spot for the GP. I’m feeling confident and we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”
Aleix Espargaro – P6
“Today was another complicated day. The conditions changed continuously and knowing how to adapt was important. We did just that. I rode well in all the sessions and, what’s more, if it hadn’t been for a small mistake in qualifying, I could have done even better than sixth place. In any case, we are in good form. A spot on the second row is an outstanding result. Tomorrow we’ll have the unknown factor of the tyres. We didn’t have the chance to try them in the dry, so race management will be fundamental.”
Jack Miller – P7
“It was not what we had hoped. I went out and at the first lap I made the time. The track conditions were difficult to manage, but we always had a good pace all weekend and tomorrow we will try to do the best as always.”
Miguel Oliveira – P8
“It was a good day. I’m satisfied with all the sessions. I was fast from the first moment in the morning and obviously I’m happy about the result from FP4 and Q1. It could have been slightly better in Q2 but I think overall we can be delighted with the eighth position for tomorrow’s race.”
Franco Morbidelli – P9
“We chose the soft tyre option and worked to get the maximum out of them, so ninth today is not too bad. We’re starting from the third row tomorrow and if we make a good getaway on the line we can move ourselves higher in the opening lap. It was a strange day, with the conditions changing constantly, but it was a good day. We needed to adapt quickly and I felt quite good in FP4. I didn’t feel as good in qualifying, but P9 is okay and now we have to focus on the race. If tomorrow is dry, like we think it will be, then we need to work hard in Warm Up to understand the best setup for the race, to do a good job there and then again in the race.”
Brad Binder – P10
“Today was OK but it was quite difficult in the wet for me. I was battling for good speed and trying to work out how much I can push in the difficult conditions. All-in-all I’m quite happy with tenth and I was a lot faster in Q2 than the previous one. I hope we have a good dry session in Warm-up so I can do some laps and get set for the race. The weather looks promising.”
Fabio Quartararo – P11
“We have tried many things with the bike in the wet conditions this weekend, to try to understand where we can improve and find some more speed. At the beginning of the session we had a similar pace to those around us, but as the laps continued we didn’t make the step that we wanted to. Unfortunately everyone seemed to improve at the end of the session, but we were 11th. We need to analyse the data to try to understand why, but I am hoping for better weather tomorrow. Although we haven’t had any dry running, I know the base set up is good and I am not worried about it. I have to do my best tomorrow and see where we are at the end.”
Andrea Dovizioso – P12
“Qualifying didn’t go as we had hoped. In some areas, the track was quite dry, while in others we had to slow down a lot due to the lack of grip. Unfortunately, with these particular conditions, I couldn’t find the right feeling with my Desmosedici machine, and this prevented me from finding the rhythm and setting a good lap time. Hopefully, the weather will improve for tomorrow’s race”.
Stefan Bradl – P13
“It was all or nothing today in Quali! I felt really good all day on the bike in the wet and the track was improving with each lap. We had to manage the tyres a bit in Q1 because they started to overheat when it stopped raining, so I put it all on the line for the final lap. I got to Turn 8 and I thought either I will crash, or I will be in Q2. Unfortunately, we crashed. I am OK and although we didn’t make Q2 I am happy with how the day has gone because we have been feeling good and able to show our speed.”
Alex Marquez – P14
“Today was a good chance to be in front in Qualifying but the conditions were not easy at all, it wasn’t really wet only in two corners and the rest were drying. My time was better than I expected, and I would have been eighth in Q2. If it is dry tomorrow it will be tricky as we have had no time with the circuit fully dry and everyone needs to try and decide what tyre to use. We need to see what happens tomorrow because a lot can happen.”
Maverick Vinales – P15
“We know I have to start from pit lane tomorrow. The forecast for a dry race worries me a little, because the grip level is very low. In FP2, which was the driest session we‘ve had so far this weekend, I didn’t feel very comfortable. But I don‘t want to overthink this race too much. I just want to race and be calm about it. If I feel good on track in the dry tomorrow, I will be pushing as hard as I can, and then we‘ll see.”
Cal Crutchlow – P16
“Not the qualifying that we expected or wanted today. Unfortunately, I didn’t go directly through to Q2 yesterday and it was always going to be a difficult ask to go through Q1 with the condition of the track and not a great feeling with the Honda in those conditions. We’re all going into the race a little bit blind tomorrow in terms of no dry track time. Hopefully tomorrow morning will be good conditions and we can work on our bike set-up for the race.”
Pecco Bagnaia – P17
“Until qualifying I can say that it was a positive day. I was strong both in FP3 and FP4 finishing fourth in both sessions. Unfortunately, in qualifying I was not able to use the full potential of the bike and it’s a shame because we were much stronger than that. Q1 is always a big risk and you have to try to be strong since Friday.”
Valentino Rossi – P18
“I felt good on the bike today, without any problems. Fortunately, while I was in quarantine I felt always good, only two days were bad, and after it was okay. But anyway, it was difficult because I had to stay home alone for 24 days and it was boring. I had a lot of check-ups, and every time I tested positive. And now, after three weeks, I’m back, and I’m very happy about this. Not riding these last few weeks was not a big problem, but missing FP1 and FP2 is not easy, and also the conditions this afternoon were difficult. This morning I was not so bad, but in the afternoon I suffered more.”
Danilo Petrucci – P19
“Unfortunately, today I paid dearly for the mistake I made yesterday in FP2. With rain tyres, in the semi-dry track conditions I have always struggled a lot, and also today in qualifying I had the same difficulties. Tomorrow the weather will probably change, and we will find an even different situation. Let’s see how it will go, but for sure we will have to attempt a comeback in the race tomorrow.”
Lorenzo Savadori – P20
“We took another step forward today. It’s a pity the track conditions were always different. That doesn’t help at all when we really need to lap with consistency. Maybe in qualifying we could have done a bit better, but it is a question of experience more than anything else. Maybe the tyre we used wasn’t perfect for a track that changed a lot between FP4 and Q1. In any case, I am happy because my feeling has improved and the gaps are not bad. Now we’ll focus our work on the race tomorrow.”
Tito Rabat – P21
“It was a very difficult day in which things did not turn out as expected, the track conditions were very difficult and it was difficult for us to adapt. Despite this I hope to take a step tomorrow in the race”
MotoGP Qualifying Results
|13||Stefan BRADL||HONDA||Q1||(*) 0.239|
|14||Alex MARQUEZ||HONDA||Q1||(*) 0.505|
|15||Maverick VIÑALES||YAMAHA||Q1||(*) 0.539|
|16||Cal CRUTCHLOW||HONDA||Q1||(*) 0.540|
|17||Francesco BAGNAIA||DUCATI||Q1||(*) 0.624|
|18||Valentino ROSSI||YAMAHA||Q1||(*) 1.268|
|19||Danilo PETRUCCI||DUCATI||Q1||(*) 1.473|
|20||Lorenzo SAVADORI||APRILIA||Q1||(*) 1.761|
|21||Tito RABAT||DUCATI||Q1||(*) 2.259|
Moto2 Qualifying Report
On a drying Circuit Ricardo Tormo that saw the Moto2 riders attack Q2 on slicks, Xavi Vierge (Petronas Sprinta Racing) produced the goods to bag his first pole position of the season. The Spaniard’s last lap was good enough to see him beat Joe Roberts (Tennor American Racing) by just under two tenths, with Championship leader Sam Lowes an infinitesimal 0.002 back in P3. The British rider’s main title rival, Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team), will start from 15th.
Hafizh Syahrin (Inde Aspar Team Moto2) topped a tricky Q1 from Andi Izdihar (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), with Championship contender Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) and Bo Bendsneyder (NTS RW Racing GP) also moving through. A dry line had appeared in Valencia, meaning it was just about time for slicks although it was by no means a fully dry qualifying session for the intermediate class.
Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46) was fastest after the first flurry of laps in Q2, but as everyone got going, the lap times tumbled. Roberts set a 1:44.604 to sit on provisional pole with eight minutes to go but once more, the time wouldn’t be quickest for long. Vierge was the first man into the 1:43s as Lowes slotted into P2, three tenths off the Spaniard.
Bezzecchi then went back to P1 with Roberts going a tad slower to take second, but Lowes went quicker than the lot of them to go top by three tenths. Again though, the lead changed. Roberts once more took provisional pole and this time, Lowes didn’t beat his time – but it was close between the Brit and American.
Red sectors for Bezzecchi, Roberts and Lowes lit up the screens, but the latter was on a different planet. A 1:39.790 saw the Championship leader soar to 1.1 seconds clear of anyone else, decimating the competition. And yet, the gap was soon cut by Vierge, although Lowes hit back once again to extend it to seven tenths.
It remained far from over though. Bezzecchi, Roberts, Vierge, Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) and Lowes all had red sectors. First it was Roberts who took provisional pole, but Vierge demoted the American to second almost immediately. Could Lowes respond to get back on top? Not this time! The points leader stayed third despite improving his laptime, advantage overcome and Vierge securing pole position in Valencia, his first since the 2019 Argentina GP. Roberts stayed second, too, just 0.002 ahead of Lowes as the duo finish just under two tenths down.
Gardner spearheads the second row in P4, the Aussie pipping Bezzecchi by just 0.033 to demote the Italian to fifth. Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) completes the second row in P6 as the front two rows are split by 0.520 seconds, with seventh place Marini next up but 1.3 seconds back from pole. The newly-announced 2021 Ducati rider needs a big result on Sunday to keep tabs on Lowes and Bastianini in the title race, and P7 is a solid place to start.
Flexbox HP 40 teammates Lorenzo Baldassarri and Hector Garzo picked up P8 and P9 respectively, both a good day’s work, with Nicolo Bulega (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) closing out the top 10.
So where’s Bastianini? The number 33 produced a miraculous save in Q2 to keep himself upright but he couldn’t keep himself nearer the front, set to start P15. What can he do on race day? We’ve seen him bounce back before…
Xavi Vierge – P1
“I’m so happy, again difficult times and injuries, it wasn’t easy to ride but these conditions mean it doesn’t affect it. The weekend was tricky conditions, in the rain I never felt comfortable so when I saw the conditions I wanted to start on slicks because I knew on the dry line I could go fast. I went step-by-step and lap-by-lap, and like always on the last lap you have to give it all and I made it this time. Super happy, thanks so much to the team they’re always supporting me and working so hard.”
Moto2 Qualifying Results
|11||Fabio DI GIANNANTONI+||Q2||+3.650|
|12||Andi Farid IZDIHAR||KALEX||Q2||+3.658|
|17||Hafizh SYAHRIN||SPEED UP||Q2||+4.030|
|18||Simone CORSI||MV AGUSTA||Q2||+5.274|
|19||Jorge NAVARRO||SPEED UP||Q1||(*) 0.153|
|20||Aron CANET||SPEED UP||Q1||(*) 0.241|
|21||Stefano MANZI||MV AGUSTA||Q1||(*) 0.621|
|22||Tetsuta NAGASHIMA||KALEX||Q1||(*) 0.976|
|23||Edgar PONS||KALEX||Q1||(*) 1.528|
|24||Kasma DANIEL||KALEX||Q1||(*) 1.812|
|25||Lorenzo DALLA PORTA ITA||KALEX||Q1||(*) 1.950|
|26||Somkiat CHANTRA||KALEX||Q1||(*) 2.071|
|27||Marcos RAMIREZ||KALEX||Q1||(*) 2.570|
|28||Piotr BIESIEKIRSKI||NTS||Q1||(*) 4.172|
John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) claimed his first pole position of 2020 in a wet Moto3 qualifying session at the Gran Premio de Europa, the British rider’s 1:52.252 enough to pull over three tenths clear of second place Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo). Title rival Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) completes the front row, just ahead of Championship leader Albert Arenas (Valresa Aspar Team) as the grid promises another Sunday stunner.
Ahead of Q1, very dark clouds were threatening at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo. Three title contenders were in the opening qualifying session, Arenas, Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) and Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing). It was a crucial and tense start to the session as the riders piled out on slick tyres, and Arenas had a big moment on his out-lap as the rain started falling – albeit lightly. But after overnight rain as well, there were still plenty of wet patches on track.
Ogura and Arenas were the early leaders in the session, the rain just about holding off, with Masia struggling. Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) then crashed before CarXpert PrüstelGP’s Barry Baltus and Jason Dupasquier went down as well, and then Jeremy Alcoba (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) took a tumble too as the rain came down at Turn 14. Rodrigo crashed again at said corner to make it a hugely dramatic start to the afternoon. Masia remained three seconds off Ogura’s time at the top, the double MotorLand winner heading back out on wet tyres… but to no avail. He finished P14 in the session, which is P28 on the grid and quite a mountain to climb on Sunday.
Ogura, Rodrigo, Arenas and Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing) were the four contenders going through to Q2 by the flag, and it would be a wet session to decide pole. The heavens had fully opened for the second part of qualifying and it was Darryn Binder (CIP – Green Power) who set the first banker time. That was immediately beaten by Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0), Arenas and Riccardo Rossi (BOE Skull Rider Facile Energy), but there were going to be plenty of changes in the next 10 minutes.
At the front, Alonso Lopez (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) had taken over ahead of Binder and McPhee, but the provisional polesitter was the next man down as he crashed unhurt at Turn 4. McPhee then went three tenths clear of Arenas with a 1:52.514, with Garcia tumbling at Turn 9 and Carlos Tatay (Reale Avintia Moto3) at Turn 12 – proving the conditions were continuing to get trickier.
Nevertheless, Fernandez then threatened McPhee’s time to take second, just over a tenth off with two minutes to go. McPhee was responding though, the Scotsman 0.3 under his best time by Sector 3 and as the sun started to pierce through the clouds, the number 17 extended his advantage by another two tenths. Just ahead of McPhee on the road, title contender Vietti crashed at Turn 6 while occupying P3 – the end of his session, but with a good lap in the bank beforehand.
It came down to the final push. Could Fernandez spoil McPhee’s party? On his final lap the Spaniard gave it a cracking shot and coming across the line, he was just 0.064 off the Petronas rider. But then drama hit, with that lap cancelled for the Spaniard. Ultimately, his second best lap was enough, however, giving the Red Bull KTM Ajo rider second on the grid.
He’ll start alongside polesitter McPhee after the Scot took his first pole since the 2019 Austrian GP, with Vietti completing the front row. Arenas heads up Row 2 after coming through Q1, late laptime shuffle not bumping him forward in the end.
The Championship leader will be joined by Lopez, who crashed twice in Q2 but took P5, with Rossi completing the second row. Garcia spearheads Row 3 ahead of the man second in the standings, Ai Ogura, with Darryn Binder taking P9. Kaito Toba (Red Bull KTM Ajo) rounds out the top 10.
“It was a tricky session for us because with the conditions looking like it would be dry we had the bike ready to go with slicks and dry settings, and then part-way through Q1 when the other guys were on track we saw it was getting wet and we didn’t know whether to go half-half or fully wet. When the rain started to come down we went for fully wet, which was a good call from the team to do that. It was difficult because the first couple of flaps weren’t so wet and then lap-by-lap there was more and more water to the point where at end of the session there was even some standing water. It was hard to improve but we got a good banker in at the beginning and were able to improve at the end which I was more happy with, because like I said with more water it was more difficult. Overall we’ve been strong in all conditions, in the small dry part we had although it wasn’t fully dry, we were strong as well so I’m looking forward to the race tomorrow. I think we can have a good day.”
Moto3 Qualifying Results
|19||Tatsuki SUZUKI||HONDA||Q1||(*) 0.671|
|20||Jason DUPASQUIER||KTM||Q1||(*) 0.922|
|21||Maximilian KOFLER||KTM||Q1||(*) 0.981|
|22||Barry BALTUS||KTM||Q1||(*) 1.185|
|23||Davide PIZZOLI||KTM||Q1||(*) 1.200|
|24||Stefano NEPA||KTM||Q1||(*) 2.437|
|25||Khairul Idham PAWI||HONDA||Q1||(*) 2.773|
|26||Ayumu SASAKI||KTM||Q1||(*) 2.977|
|27||Deniz ÖNCÜ||KTM||Q1||(*) 3.024|
|28||Jaume MASIA||HONDA||Q1||(*) 3.257|
|29||Jeremy ALCOBA||HONDA||Q1||(*) 3.393|
|30||Ryusei YAMANAKA||HONDA||Q1||(*) 4.170|
|31||Niccolò ANTONELLI||HONDA||Q1||(*) 4.968|
MotoGP World Championship Standings
2020 MotoGP Calendar
|13||08 November||Comunitat Valenciana-Ricardo Tormo|
|14||15 November||Comunitat Valenciana-Ricardo Tormo|
|15||22 November||Autodromo Internacional do Algarve|
Comunitat Valenciana-Ricardo Tormo Schedule (AEST)