Mugello qualifying sets the tone for a classic MotoGP™ race on Sunday, as rookie Quartararo seeks to conquer pole-man Marquez
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) played qualifying to perfection in the Gran Premio d’Italia Oakley as the reigning Champion struck late to take his second pole position at Mugello and reassert some authority over ever-impressive rookie Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT).
Nevertheless, the Frenchman will start his first premier class race at Mugello from second place as both top Yamaha and top Independent Team rider, with Danilo Petrucci (Mission Winnow Ducati) completing the front row and flying the tricolore after a difficult day for a couple of his compatriots on home turf.
For home legend Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) this was particularly true, as the ‘Doctor’ faces Mugello from P18 on the grid after crossing the line just after the flag when on to begin his final flying lap in Q1…
Ultimately, it was Mission Winnow Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso and wildcard Michele Pirro moving through from Q1 into Q2, and an electric MotoGP™ qualifying session at Mugello soon ensued. With the sun beating down, the action was red-hot and as the first laps came in, it was a dramatic opening encounter between Maquez and Dovizioso as the Honda rider forced his way underneath Dovizioso’s Ducati at Turn 12. However, that drama would soon halt as Quartararo rocketed to the first ever 1’45s lap, and then backed it up one lap later with an even quicker lap time – with an initial all-time lap record. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) placed second whilst Marquez pushed his way into third.
However, with five minutes to go, it was all change, as more history-making beckoned in the Tuscan hills. Marc Marquez was faced with the prospect of being off of the front row for the first time in 2019. The reigning Champion and MotoGP™ rookie Quartararo went head-to-head in the dying moments of the session, beating each other in every sector, both looking to take pole. In the end, an inadvertent slipstream from Dovizioso dragged Marquez to pole by over two tenths from Fabio Quartararo. Danilo Petrucci (Mission Winnow Ducati) placed in third, giving three different nationalities on three different bikes on the front row.
Row two sees Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) with yet another stunning qualifying performance, finishing as second Yamaha on a day where the Independent team outshone the factory outfit. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) was fifth and less than a tenth and a half from the front row, whilst Britain’s Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda CASTROL) concluded his qualifying session in sixth.
Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) took seventh and heads up row three, after a quiet but progressive session, peaking on the front row at one particular moment. Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) will start from eighth position, having a strong session and thus continuing his strong weekend. One scalp he will be proud of is beating 2017 Italian Grand Prix winner Andrea Dovizioso, who, whilst dragging Marquez to pole with a slipstream, set a personal best time that was only good enough for ninth.
Japanese star Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU) took tenth position, as his prowess at Mugello this weekend turned fortuitous and continued his strong start to 2019. Pol Espargaro put the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing RC16 in eleventh, whilst wildcard Michele Pirro (Mission Winnow Ducati) completed the Q2 order and will start from 12th, 1.119s from pole position – in what was an extremely close qualifying session.
With his pole position, Marquez surpasses Valentino Rossi in the pole position standings for the premier class and is now just two behind five-time World Champion Mick Doohan, who sits on 58. It is also the first pole at Mugello for Marquez since 2014, a year in which he went on to win the Italian Grand Prix.
For full results, click here
Top 10 after qualifying:
1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) 1’45.519
2. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) 1’45.733 +0.214
3. Danilo Petrucci (Mission Winnow Ducati) 1’45.881 +0.362
4. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) 1’45.959 +0.440
5. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) 1’46.029 +0.510
6. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda CASTROL) 1’46.079 +0.560
7. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) 1’46.181 +0.662
8. Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) 1’46.260 +0.741
9. Andrea Dovizioso (Mission Winnow Ducati) 1’46.293 +0.774
10. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU) 1’46.387 +0.868