It was pure dominance from Yamaha in qualifying at the Gran Premio Lenovo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) set a new Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli lap record on his way to pole position, with Petronas Yamaha SRT duo Franco Morbidelli and Fabio Quartararo joining him on the front row.
And with Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) lining up P4, Yamaha sealed their first top four qualifying lockout in the MotoGP™, a first for the Iwata factory since 1988. All four riders have been on song at Misano after a disastrous couple of weekends at the Red Bull Ring, but can anyone stop the dominance on Sunday afternoon?
Viñales and Quartararo’s race pace looks mighty. The duo looks very comfortable in the mid 1:32s on used front tyres and slightly used rear tyres, with Quartararo looking ready to set 1:32.4-1:32.7 in the early stages of the race. Viñales, if he can get the start from pole position, looks like he’ll be able to do the same. To compare the other two Yamaha riders in FP4, Morbidelli’s best on a new rear tyre was a 1:32.8, Rossi’s was a 1:33.0.
Is there anyone from another manufacturer that can take the challenge to Yamaha? Well, going from FP4 alone, Pol Espargaro’s (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) 1:32.7 was done on a 21-lap old rear tyre – promising, but the Spaniard starts P11 on the grid. Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) set a 1:32.9 on a 15-lap old rear tyre in FP4, with teammate Alex Rins posting a 1:32.8 on a nine-lap old rear tyre – again, promising, but the Suzukis are on Row 3.
It’s difficult to see past a Yamaha win in San Marino, but this is MotoGP™. 2020 has thrown up surprise after surprise, and predicting a premier class race is virtually impossible these days. The San Marino GP is far from a foregone conclusion and another title twist lies in wait at 14:00 (GMT +2) on Sunday afternoon.