It looked like Mugello was going to get turned red as Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) lit up the timesheets with red sectors in Q2, but the reigning Champion lost out in the end as he lost four tenths of advantage to a moment in the final corner and he’ll be starting P6 for the Italian GP after a more difficult quaofying. It marks the number 93’s equal worst grid position of the year, but he’s got top company in the second row – including 2017 winner and title rival Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), who starts next to him.
Marquez is, despite starting sixth, positive about race day.
“The pace was good, not incredibly fast but I was there like the others, we were very, very equal,” says the reigning Champion. “But we knew before qualifying we would struggle, because I was with the medium front and struggling a lot. In the morning I was very fast because the tyre was working well, but in the afternoon it was too soft and the Honda is the bike maybe pushing the front tyre the most. Maybe I didn’t find the best qualifying lap and made a few mistakes, but I’m happy despite that because we’re close to the top guys.”
That’s true – and now Marquez will be analysing the data to finalise his rear tyre choice, with his hands a little more tied on the front…
“We still need to analyse everything this afternoon, but I think we’ll go for the medium rear. And on the front, the hard tyre is kind of mandatory – if not we won’t finish the race…”
Meanwhile, it was an even more difficult day for Marquez’ teammate, too, as fellow former Mugello winner Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) endured his worst ever qualifying in the premier class. He’ll be starting P20 as he continues to battle back to full fitness – with the situation complicated by a crash.
“It was a tough day like yesterday,” says Pedrosa. “I couldn’t find the feeling and we weren’t going fast enough. Then I crashed on my first bike and the second had a different set up, it didn’t feel very good but I had no time to change it for qualifying so I couldn’t go fast.”
Also asked about the movement of his head down the main straight at high speed, the number 26 says he doesn’t know why that happened on Saturday.
“I don’t know why. I had some problem on that run with the aero, but I’ve never had that before and I couldn’t stop it.”
How will the duo fare in the race? Check it out at 14:00 (GMT +2) on Sunday.