Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP40) earned his second pole position of the season at the PTT Thailand Grand Prix after laying down a 1:36.374 early in the session to eventually take Saturday honours by 0.026 seconds from second place Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), with third place Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) threatening pole as 0.034 separate the front row in Moto2™ qualifying.
Baldassarri was able to set his fastest lap on his third flying lap as the intermediate class got down to business in Buriram from the off, benefitting from the extra grip created by the MotoGP™ machines. This early lap was good enough in the end, but both Marquez and Marini were on the prowl as the session entered its latter stages. First, it was the Italian who threatened his fellow countryman, missing out by less than half a tenth on the line before Marquez put in his personal best time to push Marini down to third. The duo narrowly missed out on pole, but it was a welcome return to the front row for both riders - Brno the last time for Marquez and Marini. Meanwhile, Baldassarri lands his first top three starting position since Le Mans and his first pole since Mugello.
Despite a late crash in qualifying, Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) was able to hold onto P4 on the grid after setting his best time on just his fourth flying lap. The Italian is joined on the second row by the two title contenders – Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Francesco Bagnaia (SKY Racing Team VR46). The former was another rider to set his best time at the beginning of qualifying, finishing just 0.002 behind Pasini in P5, with Championship leader Bagnaia jumping up to sixth from eighth on his last lap – a further 0.002 splitting the top two in the overall standings.
Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo), winner last time out in Aragon, qualifies seventh for the Thai GP despite being less than two tenths from pole. FP3 leader Fabio Quartararo (MB Conveyors – Speed Up) will go in search of his third podium of the season from P8 on the grid after showing good pace throughout the weekend, with Augusto Fernandez (Pons HP40) and Marcel Schrotter (Dynavolt Intact GP) completing a top ten covered by 0.315 seconds.
So it’s brilliant Baldassarri who will lead the intermediate class off the line as they go racing in Buriram for the first time, but it’s looking almost impossible to predict who will triumph in Thailand. It’s another important race for the Moto2™ Championship and with Bagnaia and Oliveira starting alongside each other, expect there to be fireworks.
Watch all the drama unfold at 12:20 local time (GMT +7).