2020 MotoGP Round 14 – Valencia Qualifying
MotoGP Qualifying Report
Franco Morbidelli left it late, but the Italian pitched it to perfection to take his second MotoGP pole position at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana.
Friday’s fastest Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) was pipped to the post by less than a tenth, with Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) completing the front row once again – both men candidates to become that record-breaking tenth winner of the year and starting from the front.
There were some big headlines slightly down the order too as Championship leader Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) took 12th, Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) 11th and Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) only 14th as none the top three in the standings managed to make it onto the first three rows… setting up another rollercoaster Sunday.
It began in a tense Q1 packed full of key players, including the men second and third in the Championship – Quartararo and Rins – as well as Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP). Big drama hit on the timesheets for Rins as he ended the session fourth and therefore 14th on the grid, and big drama hit on track for Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) as the Spaniard had a huge highside right in front of Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing). Thankfully the South African took quick evasive action and the number 73 got to his feet, even able to head back out on his second bike.
Binder, at the time, was top of the pile too and no one could overhaul his lap. He moved through along with Quartararo, with Rins left in 14th, Rossi 16th and Dovizioso 17th after a difficult session at the office for a good few famous faces.
After the first runs in Q2, it remained advantage KTM. Binder was on provisional pole and Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) in second as Mir languished down in tenth, but there was more to come. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) added to the KTM party next as he slotted into second once the final shootout was on, before Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) then suddenly shot straight to the top.
Still, it wasn’t done. Mir had got himself up to seventh but the man on the move was Miller as the Australian slammed in a lap that saw him take over on provisional pole, backing up his Friday speed with another impressive Q2. That was with two minutes to go and it seemed it could be his – but one man wasn’t quite done, and that man was Morbidelli.
The number 21 said Saturday, on an overcast day after some minor rain earlier on, was a balance between risk and reward and the Italian walked the tightrope to perfection. Right at the end of the session, his red sectors kept rolling and he eventually crossed the line to deny Miller by less than a tenth, taking his second MotoGP™ pole position ever and of the year. Nakagami then took his second front row in a week, slotting into third, making a front row with three different manufacturers, and not one of the top three in the title fight in sight…
Fourth went to an impressive Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing) as he moved up to take over as the second Ducati in the session, with Pol Espargaro – last week’s polesitter – forced to settle for fifth. Sixth is where Viñales was eventually shuffled down to, but it’s a lot further forward than the Yamaha rider’s pitlane start for exceeding his engine allocation last weekend. What can he do?
Seventh saw Aleix Espargaro put his Aprilia Racing Team Gresini machine in the mix to head up the third row, ahead of Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) as the Italian continues to show solid speed at Valencia. Binder completes Row 3, the South African getting shuffled down late on, as did Miguel Oliveira as the Portuguese rider completes the top ten.
So where are the key players in the title fight? Rins’ work was over early as he didn’t make it out of Q1, but it couldn’t have been much better news for the number 42 as the flag flew for Qualifying 2. Mir is only two places ahead of him, in 12th and last in Q2, with Quartararo only managing one better. But then we’ve seen many a Suzuki comeback on Sunday as the Hamamatsu factory slice through the field…
A podium would be enough for Mir to lift the crown. Past that it’s a maths game – and everything will be on the line as the top three blast away from 11th, 12th and 14th.
MotoGP Rider Quotes
Franco Morbidelli – P1
“Qualifying today was a bit of a strange one because the conditions were varied and not easy. You needed to take the right amount of risk to get a good lap time, without making any mistakes, and I managed to do it. I felt great with the bike so I was able to take the necessary risks, and I’m really happy. It’s been a great weekend so far and we have improved the rhythm, compared to last weekend’s race. We have analysed what happened last time and been able to improve. It will be important to get a good start tomorrow, give our all and collect as many points as we can. Winning is nice and of course I want to win, but we need to see what the conditions are and what happens tomorrow. I will be giving my best like always to get the maximum result that we can.”
Jack Miller – P2
“I’m really happy for today, we deserved it. We have worked very well since the FP3 and FP4 where we focused on the race pace. In qualifying I was very fast and starting from the front row is always something positive. Hopefully we will do well tomorrow because this weekend we were always strong.”
Takaaki Nakagami – P3
“It’s good because it’s another front row, I think that’s three races in a row, so I’m pretty happy with another P3. It’s really important for tomorrow’s race because normally it’s not easy to overtake on this track. I’m happy and I want to say thanks to my team because it was tricky conditions and the team prepared the best bike and I just kept pushing. It’s a great result, I’m looking forward to tomorrow and we hope to bring home a great result.”
Johann Zarco – P4
“Great qualifying today. In the morning there were strange conditions, first it rained and then it didn’t, but we were able to make the best of the situation. In qualifying, in the first outing I checked the track conditions, and in the second outing I gave my best to set a good time. Starting from fourth position will help us a lot for tomorrow, and I am confident that I will be able to better handle the last ten laps of the race.”
Pol Espargaro – P5
“Overall it was a great day. Not quite as good as the Pole Position last week, but to start from the second row is still positive. We made the good lap-time in the morning and then did a lot of laps in FP4 to understand the tire drop for the race tomorrow and get the most info. It was tricky with the track conditions but we did another good time in Q2. We’ll focus on a good start and see where we can arrive at the end of the race.”
Maverick Vinales – P6
“I’m quite happy about the qualifying. We didn’t get an amazing feeling on the softs, but we still got ourselves in sixth position, which is good. I’m more confident about my rhythm. My race rhythm felt strong in FP4. I will try to improve our rear grip a bit more. I want to be fast at the beginning of the race and then see if I can overtake some riders.”
Aleix Espargaro – P7
“I was worried when I saw the rain this morning before FP3, because I knew I could battle to go straight through to Q2. Fortunately, the track started drying off toward the end of the session and I was one of the few who improved – just one tenth, but enough to make it into the top 10. In qualifying things weren’t exactly simple either. With the first tyre, the asphalt was still damp, but fortunately with the second one, I was able to do a good time. Tomorrow I expect to see a lot of riders very close to one another. Nobody seems capable of getting away at the front except maybe Franco and Taka. I want to start well and stay with the group. We lose a bit in acceleration, but I think I’ll be able to stay in the game for a good placement.”
Pecco Bagnaia – P8
“This is a track that fits well with my riding style and Ducati. I’m happy because we managed to bring home a good result. Tomorrow in the race will be important the manage the tires and we must be competitive from the start because we are many fast riders very close to each other. I’m satisfied with the work done in these days with my team and I have a good race pace.”
Brad Binder – P9
“Not a bad day at all. In FP3 this morning I didn’t get a good lap together and that was a bit disappointing but I was quite happy to get a good couple of runs in FP4. We made a step today and my rhythm was strong in qualifying. Due to Q1 I didn’t have any tires left for Q2. I had one new rear but no new fronts. My team made a good step forward with the bike setting. I felt much better and I think we’ll have a good race tomorrow.”
Miguel Oliveira – P10
“It was a good day. The afternoon was very tricky to understand how much we could push. I felt good with the bike. Just on the last run, I couldn’t improve enough to at least make it to the front two rows, so I’m sad for that. I made a mistake in turn two of the last lap. Anyway, I think we have a strong pace for the race, we were working decently, therefore we just need a good start and need to avoid any contact in the first few corners.”
Fabio Quartararo – P11
“Today was difficult with the conditions changing all the time and it has not made it easy to get the best set-up. The feeling was not great today, even when we put a new tyre on the bike. We did struggle today but we have some changes planned for the Warm Up tomorrow that should hopefully help us to improve. Our main contender may be starting behind us, only by one place, but right now I am not thinking about that. Instead I am staying focused on how we can improve my bike for tomorrow, what my race will look like and things like this. We have to see what the conditions are like for the race and then do our best.”
Joan Mir – P12
“I couldn’t find the best feeling during qualifying, I couldn’t get a really fast lap time in despite feeling good and having good results in the other sessions – in fact I found some useful things today that I missed yesterday. The lack of pace in qualifying is something I don’t really understand, but I know that I can fight well tomorrow because in general I feel good. As long as I can make a good start and comeback I think I can be up there, because I have confidence in my race pace. I will focus on my own race, without thinking about the other riders and rivals.”
Cal Crutchlow – P13
“Today I didn’t really get a fantastic feeling with the bike, I felt better yesterday with the setting of the bike. We did a good job in qualifying, unfortunately I didn’t make it through to Q2, but the track was really wet in sector three and I lost control of the bike on my fastest lap due to the water, but was able to stay on. I gave it my all and now we will try to improve the bike for tomorrow’s warm-up and race.”
Alex Rins – P14
“It was a tough day, the conditions were bad during Q1 and it was hard to go fast because it was quite risky out there with the damp track. On my final exit I started to feel fast but then I saw a lot of rain flags and it was getting heavier so I had to slow down. On the plus side, my race pace is nice, and although it’s not easy to start from 14th I’ll be aiming to get a strong start and put in some quick laps to get myself into the highest position possible, I know I have potential.”
Danilo Petrucci – P15
“This morning, my feeling with the bike was quite good, and we missed the access to Q2 by only a few thousandths of a second. Unfortunately, in Q1, the conditions were quite difficult: I tried to push, but with the light rain, I took a couple of risks, and I couldn’t do better. Let’s hope the weather will improve tomorrow and to be able to do a good start in the race.”
Valentino Rossi – P16
“All day we were riding on a track that was somewhere between dry and wet. It wasn’t easy. We sincerely did find an improvement in FP4. We modified the setting on the bike, so I feel more comfortable and I have a bit more grip. I improved my pace, so this is important. I expected more from qualifying, because I can make a better lap, but the conditions in Q1 were bad. We hope for a sunny day tomorrow, like the forecast said, and I need to do the best I possibly can in the race and do some laps.”
Andrea Dovizioso – P17
“I am quite disappointed with today’s qualifying. We worked a lot for the race during these days, and we were able to find a good pace. Unfortunately, I expect a very tough race tomorrow, as we will be starting from far back on the grid. In qualifying, with the new tyre, my feeling wasn’t that bad, but towards the end of the session, the rain started to fall heavier, and I couldn’t push harder.”
Stefan Bradl – P18
“Again the weather had a really big impact on everything we did today, it made everything complicated. This morning it was half and half and then the same in Qualifying, it upset our plans a little bit and my feeling was not great. In Free Practice 4 we were quite satisfied, but in Q1 I did not want to risk anything. It’s going to be a tricky race but we will do what we can.”
Tito Rabat – P19
“Once yesterday’s brake problem was solved, today I focused on working on the race pace. During FP3 I managed to square a good lap, but later in qualifying it cost me a lot. Even so I believe that today we have taken a step forward compared to yesterday that we hope to be able to consolidate tomorrow in the race.”
Alex Marquez – P20
“It was not an easy day today at all. First the conditions were very difficult, never fully dry and never fully wet. When it came to Q1 I knew I had to push even if it was still risky, I was pushing very hard for a better lap time and unfortunately I had a really big crash. I came down very hard on my hip and lower back, after a minute I was able to get back and I tried to go out on the second bike but when the adrenaline wore off, it was clear I could not do another lap. Now we just have to see what the pain is like tomorrow.”
Lorenzo Savadori – P21
“Another strange day in terms of weather – not exactly easy conditions. The damp track kept us from pushing to the limit, so I wasn’t able to see how the feeling is with the front during braking and going into turns, which is what we are trying to improve. In Q1, the asphalt got worse just as I was doing a good lap – a pity. Tomorrow the weather will change for the umpteenth time, with sunshine and higher temperatures. My goal is to maintain a consistent pace in the race and to gain as much experience as possible.”
Joan Mir will be Champion if…
- He is on the podium
- He is 4th, 5th or 6th: Quartararo or Rins don’t win
- He is 7th: Quartararo, Rins or Viñales don’t win
- He is 8th, 9th or 10th: Viñales doesn’t win, and Quartararo and Rins don’t finish better than 3rd
- He is 11th: Viñales, Morbidelli or Dovizioso don’t win, and Quartararo and Rins don’t finish better than 3rd
- He is 12th, 13th or 14th: Morbidelli or Dovizioso don’t win, Viñales doesn’t finish better than 3rd, and Quartararo and Rins don’t finish on the podium
- He is 15th: Morbidelli or Dovizioso don’t win, Viñales doesn’t finish better than 3rd and Quartararo and Rins don’t finish better 5th
- He fails to score any points: Morbidelli and Dovizioso don’t finish better than 3rd Viñales doesn’t finish on the podium, Quartararo and Rins don’t finish better than 5th
MotoGP Qualifying Results
|13||Cal CRUTCHLOW||HONDA||Q1||(*) 0.349|
|14||Alex RINS||SUZUKI||Q1||(*) 0.784|
|15||Danilo PETRUCCI||DUCATI||Q1||(*) 0.791|
|16||Valentino ROSSI||YAMAHA||Q1||(*) 0.794|
|17||Andrea DOVIZIOSO||DUCATI||Q1||(*) 0.796|
|18||Stefan BRADL||HONDA||Q1||(*) 1.021|
|19||Tito RABAT||DUCATI||Q1||(*) 1.253|
|20||Alex MARQUEZ||HONDA||Q1||(*) 1.395|
|21||Lorenzo SAVADORI||APRILIA||Q1||(*) 1.427|
Not since 1976 in the 350cc class has an MV Agusta started a Grand Prix race from pole, but Stefano Manzi (MV Agusta Forward Racing) changed that on Saturday at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana. He took his first pole position with a new lap record to head a front row split by just 0.076, with home hero Hector Garzo (Flexbox HP 40) forced to settle for second and Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46) completing the top three. Of the top three in the title fight it’s Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) who starts furthest up the grid in 10th, with Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) 12th and Sam Lowes (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) in P18 after a big crash in FP3.
In Q1 it was Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40) who led the way, but the gap was infinitesimal for the Italian as Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) slotted into second just 0.004 back. Simone Corsi (MV Agusta Forward Racing) was closer still in third, 0.002 in further arrears, with Tom Lüthi (Liqui Moly Intact GP) the fourth man through and still within less than half a tenth. That left Europe GP podium finisher Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) just missing out, and the Australian will be looking to move forward quick-sharp on Sunday.
As Q2 began, a lot of eyes were on Lowes. After a huge FP3 crash, the Brit was back on track sporting a bandaged right wrist after being declared fit. His opening lap time was nearly four seconds down on Bo Bendsneyder’s (NTS RW Racing GP) 1:35.131 lap time, but that wasn’t the case for long. Garzo then took turn to lead the session before Fabio Di Giannantonio (MB Conveyors Speed Up) shot to the summit; Q1 graduate Simone Corsi then moving into third with eight minutes to go.
Manzi was on a march though. The Italian was top of the tree by 0.004 over Di Giannantonio as Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) climbed to P3 soon after, puting three manufacturers sat on the front row in Moto2™ as the clock ticked down and down…
The times were again incredibly close. Less than a tenth covered the top five before Marini slotted into fifth, just 0.095 off the top. Red sectors were everywhere though and soon there was another man on a mission: Garzo. A 1:34.431 came in from the Spaniard as Bezzecchi clawed his way up to P2, with Championship leader Bastianini still down in tenth with two minutes to go.
Manzi then grabbed the spotlight for the second time. On his final lap, the Italian sliced round to claim provisional pole and break Garzo’s heart, making MV Agusta history with their first pole position since MotoGP™ Legend Giacomo Agostini in 1976 at Le Mans. Rookie Garzo’s second place is nevertheless his best yet in Moto2™, with Bezzecchi striking late to give both a scare as last week’s winner slotted into third.
Di Giannantonio spearheads Row 2 in P4, and he’s joined by Jorge Martin and rookie Marcos Ramirez (Tennor American Racing). Schrötter eventually slipped to P7, just ahead of Q1 graduate Baldassarri as he returns to form to start from P8. Bendsneyder took ninth as the Dutchman got his third top 10 qualifying result of the campaign.
Marini was under four tenths away from pole but ends up down in P10. However, importantly for the Italian, he’s ahead of the two riders ahead of him in the Championship: Bastianini will start P12 behind Corsi, three places better than last weekend but still far from ideal after another tougher session. Lowes, although cutting his gap to the top down and down, struggled in Q2 and immediately had ice on his right wrist when he was back in the box. The Brit has a salvage job on his hands from P18.
Bastianini has the chance to win the title in Valencia. The easiest way is if he wins, Lowes doesn’t finish better than 11th and Marini no better than third. But can he do it?
Moto2 Qualifying Results
|1||Stefano MANZI||MV AGUSTA||Q2||1m34.418|
|4||Fabio DI GIANNANTONI||SPEED UP||Q2||+0.106|
|11||Simone CORSI||MV AGUSTA||Q2||+0.384|
|15||Jorge NAVARRO||SPEED UP||Q2||+0.531|
|19||Remy GARDNER||KALEX||Q1||(*) 0.074|
|20||Aron CANET||SPEED UP||Q1||(*) 0.123|
|21||Augusto FERNANDEZ||KALEX||Q1||(*) 0.344|
|22||Edgar PONS||KALEX||Q1||(*) 0.372|
|23||Tetsuta NAGASHIMA||KALEX||Q1||(*) 0.375|
|24||Lorenzo DALLA PORTA||KALEX||Q1||(*) 0.422|
|25||Somkiat CHANTRA||KALEX||Q1||(*) 0.482|
|26||Hafizh SYAHRIN||SPEED UP||Q1||(*) 0.736|
|27||Andi Farid IZDIHAR||KALEX||Q1||(*) 1.165|
|28||Kasma DANIEL||KALEX||Q1||(*) 1.364|
|29||Piotr BIESIEKIRSKI||NTS||Q1||(*) 1.711|
Darryn Binder (CIP – Green Power) went from Q1 to the top as the South African took his first Grand Prix pole position in qualifying for the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana, edging out Kaito Toba (Red Bull KTM Ajo) by just 0.043. Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) completes the front row after a tricky session in Valencia, with rain falling lightly and then stopping but the skies remaining grey. Championship leader Albert Arenas (Gaviota Aspar Team Moto3) was sixth quickest, beating key title rival Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) by a single thousandth.
Q1 began with all eyes on Arenas as the points leader found himself on the back foot after Free Practice, but he kept it calm to top the timesheets and move through along with Riccardo Rossi (BOE Skull Rider Facile Energy), John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and Binder, joining the fray in the fight for the top 18 on the grid.
After the first runs it was Ogura on provisional pole, but a late flurry of laps as the clock ticked down put paid to his hopes of holding onto it. Second time out the Japanese rider also had Arenas on his tail, the points leader right behind him on track, and by the end of the session the two would be even closer together on the timesheets.
Binder’s 1:38.286 proved a late lunge to put the South African on top as the timesheets shuffled behind him, riders crossing the line as the flag flew or just after. Toba got closest to denying the number 40 as he cut the gap from considerable to just 0.043, but Binder held on – as Ogura and Arenas got shuffled back.
Fernandez completes the front row just over a tenth off Toba, with the same 0.043 that splits the top two making the difference for the number 25 ahead of Jaume Masia. The Leopard Racing rider is forced to settle for fourth, joined on the second row by Andrea Migno (Sky Racing Team VR46) in fifth and Arenas.
Ogura, that single thousandth off the Championship leader, heads up Row 3 ahead of Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse), with Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) down in ninth and needing to move forward on Sunday. Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) completes the top ten.
Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) was P11 ahead of one of the best Saturdays of the season for Yuki Kunii (Honda Team Asia) in 12th. Free Practice pacesetter Tony Arbolino (Rivacold Snipers Team) was shuffled down to 13th, ahead of Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) and Jeremy Alcoba (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3). John McPhee ended up in 16th, with work to do on Sunday.
Arenas starts his first chance at the crown from sixth, but Ogura couldn’t be any closer. Can the Spaniard stake his claim on home turf or will the Japanese rider – or those just behind them – hit back?
Moto3 Qualifying Results
|19||Stefano NEPA||KTM||Q1||(*) 0.957|
|20||Ryusei YAMANAKA||HONDA||Q1||(*) 0.988|
|21||Alonso LOPEZ||HUSQVARNA||Q1||(*) 1.050|
|22||Maximilian KOFLER||KTM||Q1||(*) 1.125|
|23||Jason DUPASQUIER||KTM||Q1||(*) 1.250|
|24||Barry BALTUS||KTM||Q1||(*) 1.404|
|25||Davide PIZZOLI||KTM||Q1||(*) 1.465|
|26||Ayumu SASAKI||KTM||Q1||(*) 1.565|
|27||Dennis FOGGIA||HONDA||Q1||(*) 2.402|
|28||Khairul Idham PAWI||HONDA||Q1||(*) 3.097|
MotoGP World Championship Standings
MotoGP Constructors Championship
MotoGP Team Championship
|1||Team Suzuki Ecstar||287|
|2||Petronas Yamaha Srt||205|
|4||Red Bull Ktm Factory Racing||182|
|5||Monster Energy Yamaha Motogp 159||159|
|8||Red Bull Ktm Tech 3||117|
|9||Repsol Honda Team||83|
|11||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||39|
Moto2 World Championship Standings
|11||Aron CANET||Speed Up||66|
|12||Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO||Speed Up||65|
|16||Jorge NAVARRO||Speed Up||58|
|21||Hafizh SYAHRIN||Speed Up||21|
|22||Stefano MANZI||MV Agusta||21|
|23||Simone CORSI||MV Agusta||15|
|27||Lorenzo DALLA PORTA||Kalex||5|
Moto3 World Championship Standings
Comunitat Valenciana-Ricardo Tormo Schedule (AEST)