The hills of Mugello exploded as Valentino Rossi took pole position for the Italian GP, holding off Viñales and Iannone in a gripping session
The last eight races have seen the pole setter go on to take victory, the stat looming in the back of all the MotoGP riders’ minds as they headed out for Q2. Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team) was the man of the moment having topped both Free Practice 3 and 4, the Italian immediately sliding in behind Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) for a tow. He was straight into the 1’46s with Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) also getting under the 1’47s barrier immediately.
Iannone remained locked to Lorenzo and improved to a 1’46.607 but the times were just starting to drop. Seemingly out of nowhere Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) produced a 1’46.504 and moved into provisional pole. The crowd was whipped into a frenzy but there were still hot laps to come. Both Marquez and Viñales were rapid in their final runs but neither could best ‘The Doctor’.
For the first time since 2008, Rossi will line up on pole position in Mugello. 2008 was the last time he won at the Italian track and with the winner of the last eight races coming from pole, it certainly seems like the planets are aligning for Rossi. For the first time since 2009, Rossi has managed two poles in a single season.
Right with Rossi for most of his laps was Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar), the future teammates each taking turns to lead and follow, to teach and learn. The lessons clearly paid off for Viñales as the Spaniard set a 1’46.598 to end 0.094 behind Rossi and begin Sunday’s race in second. Viñales continues to ride a wave of confidence after taking his first MotoGP World Championship podium and securing his future for the next two years. This is just Viñales’ third front row start since joining the class in 2015.
Favourite before the session, Iannone was unable to quite deliver on his potential as he was only able to take third position. A front row still puts him in prime position to battle for victory, he and Rossi having shown incredible race pace in Free Practice 4. Returning Ducati to the top step of the podium in Mugello would be a dream come true for both Iannone and Ducati.
There were four different bikes in the top four as Marquez set a 1’46.759 to lock down fourth and head the second row of the grid for the race. Marquez’s fastest lap was hindered somewhat but a small mistake towards the end. For the first time since the Catalan GP back in 2015, Marquez will start off the front row of the grid.
Before the weekend had even started, everyone was expecting Jorge Lorenzo to fly in Mugello. But the Majorcan has so far had a quiet weekend, rarely able to challenge for the top spot during practice. For the first time in 2016 he will start off the front row, fifth his worst grid position in 16 races. All of the top five were able to produce 1’46s in Q2. Lorenzo swapped front tyres just before his final run on track, an uncommon sight in Q2.
Aleix Espargaro (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team), Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Yakhnich) and Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Yakhnich) completed the top ten. As is becoming increasingly common, under a second divided all of the top 12 riders in the Q2 session.
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda rider Jack Miller has qualified 17th for Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix at a sunny and warm Mugello Circuit. Australian Miller will be the sole starter for the team in the 23-lap race at the iconic 5.2km Tuscan circuit near Florence. While Miller lines up on sixth row of the grid his Spanish teammate Tito Rabat will be an unwilling spectator.
Rabat fractured his left collarbone when he crashed his Honda RC213V at Biondetti 1 (Turn 13) on the out lap of Saturday morning’s FP3 session. He was transferred to the local Borgo San Lorenzo hospital for X-rays as doctors assess his condition and treatment. Rabat will miss this event to concentrate on being fit for the Catalunya GP, his home race.
Miller has made a positive step forward since Friday’s FP2 session and his impressive qualifying lap was 1.8s faster than his previous best. He is feeling much more comfortable in the fast, sweeping sections after suffer rear grip issues on Friday.
Jack Miller: 17th – 1′.47.830
“I feel a lot more comfortable on the bike than yesterday and we have been concentrating on getting more laps rather than changing the set-up too much. We improved the rear grip and my race pace is pretty good but it is going to be a long and hot race tomorrow.My plan is to have a strong race and bring home some points after not finishing in Le Mans last week.”
Everything is in place for a legendary Italian GP on Sunday. Could Rossi break Spain’s domination of his home track and claw back even more championship points?
MotoGP Qualifying Results
Maverick Viñales (SPA) SUZUKI + 0.094
Andrea Iannone (ITA) DUCATI + 0.103
Lowes cruises to pole as rivals stumble
Back to his best, Sam Lowes continued his love affair with Mugello as he took pole from Nakagami and Baldassarri
Conditions continued to heat up in Mugello as the sun beat down, the track temperature rising to over 47°C. Higher track temperatures can often lead to slower times but the Mugello circuit proved to have ample grip, Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) dropping into the 1’51s before too long.
Behind Lowes his championship rivals struggled to match his pace, being just 0.4s slower easily seeing a rider outside the top ten. Alex Rins’ (Paginas Amarillas HP 40) session got even worse as he fell at the end of the session at Turn 2. Unchallenged, Lowes danced to his third pole position of the season with a 1’51.965, the only 1’51s of the session. Lowes is yet to start outside the top two in Mugello. His time came on the harder option tyre, the one he will use in the race, as he never felt comfortable with the softer one.
Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) was second and will start on the front row for the first time since the Qatar GP way back in 2014. This season has seen the Japanese rider on the cusp of challenging for the podium on multiple occasions; a front row start could be the final piece of the puzzle.
Meanwhile Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Team) took his first front row start in the World Championship. The Italian had been scheduled to start on the front row in Le Mans but a technical infringement saw his time removed, no such issues in Mugello on Saturday.
It proved to be a great day in the sun for the AGR Team as Axel Pons took fourth ahead of teammate Marcel Schrotter. Pons was 0.003s from a front row start, the Moto2™ World Championship getting closer with each race weekend. Expect both riders to be aggressive at the start of the race on Sunday.
Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport), Tom Luthi (Garage Plus Interwetten), Simone Corsi (Speed Up Racing), Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40) and Luca Marini (Forward Team) formed the top ten. Moto2™ proved to be the tightest class of all three championships, a second between the top 20 riders.
Moto2 Qualifying Results
Sam Lowes (GBR) KALEX 1’51.965
Takaaki Nakagami (JPN) KALEX +0.047
Lorenzo Baldassarri (ITA) KALEX + 0.123
Italians swarm the top ten Fenati seizes pole
A highly tactical session demonstrated the importance of a fast banker lap, Fenati, Migno and Pawi forming the front row
Track temperature rose above 42°C as Qualifying for the Gran Premio d’Italia TIM began in the lightweight class. Attention was on Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) after his big crash in Free Practice 3, the South African was sore but was hopeful of pushing throughout the session. As has become common in the Moto3™ World Championship, riders eagerly waited for Binder in order to get a slipstream.
Niccolo Antonelli’s (Ongetta Rivacold) 1’57.789 was the benchmark before the session. His chance of improving that time quickly become zero as the Italian fell at Turn 15, his bike heading straight into the wall and snapping in two. Antonelli was up and walking, but his session was over.
Going into the final ten minutes Romano Fenati (SKY Racing Team VR46) and Brad Binder stood as the fastest riders, KTM locking out the top three. With a slipstream worth over a second around the Mugello circuit, the scene was set for a tactical final five minutes.
Fenati’s time would be enough to take his third career pole position, his first in Mugello. Times didn’t quite match the pole position record of 2015, Fenati over half a second slower than Danny Kent’s record as Fenati secured pole with a 1’57.289.
Second had originally been awarded to Francesco Bagnaia (Aspar Mahindra Team Moto3) but his fastest time was cancelled due to exceeding the track limits at Turn 5. As such Andrea Migno (SKY Racing Team VR46) was promoted from third to second, SKY Racing Team VR46 taking an incredible one-two. This is Migno’s first ever front row start in the World Championship. Both he and Fenati will run special liveries for their home round.
Winner of the Argentina GP, Khairul Idham Pawi (Honda Team Asia) will line up third thanks to a 1’57.605. Like Migno, this is Pawi’s first front row start in the World Championship. Since winning in Argentina, the Malaysian has had trouble recreating his incredible pace and could be a surprise podium challenger on Sunday.
Brad Binder was unable to improve the 1’57.661 he set midway through the session as traffic again proved a challenge to deal with. The South African remains confident about his chances in the race. Jorge Navarro’s (Estrella Galicia 0,0) strategy in Qualifying didn’t quite pan out as he missed a final flying lap, but was still able to grab fifth place and will start just behind the championship leader.
Even with a still healing wrist, Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Moto3) was able to take sixth place and end within a second of his countryman’s best time. Nicolo Bulega (SKY Racing Team VR46), Francesco Bagnaia (Aspar Mahindra Team Moto3), Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) rounded out the top ten. Five out of the top ten riders were Italian, thrilling the fans who cheered from the hillside.
After his fall, Antonelli ended the session in 22nd and will have significant work to do during the race.
A number of penalties were handed out after the session with Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA Racing Team), Juanfran Guevara (RBA Racing Team) handed three place grid penalties for riding slowly, and thus dangerously, during practice. Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing Moto3) and Maria Herrera (MH6 Team) were given four place grid penalties as it was their second offence.
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