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It’s a second pole position of the season for Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) thanks to a new Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli lap record, the Spaniard’s 1:31.411 saw him beat Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) by 0.312 seconds. Third place went to World Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT), with fourth place going the way of home hero Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) as Yamaha dominate Q2 in San Marino – the first time they’ve finished 1-2-3-4 in qualifying in the MotoGP™ era.
"I was on the limit!" - first words from MotoGP™ front row
And it was Viñales who was the first rider to set a flying lap time in the second qualifying session. A 1:32.130 was a solid opening time, but it was going to be beaten. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was sat behind Viñales on the first lap but the Spaniard ran on at the end of the back straight, before Q1’s fastest rider Pol Espagraro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) crashed at Turn 15. That brought out the yellow flags which saw Quartararo have to sit up and scrap the lap, but the Frenchman was getting the hammer down on his second lap.
Another rider to be getting the hammer down on the second was Free Practice pacesetter Rossi. The Doctor was further down the road from Quartararo and sure enough, the nine-time World Champion went provisional P1 to send the 10,000 Misano fans wild. However, Quartararo would soon demote Rossi to second with a 1:31.791 with the riders then pitting to push some fresh tyres in.
Viñales – who had slipped to P5 – was out on his lonesome and on his second run, a personal best time saw him stay 5th before a faster lap then came in for the number 12. Viñales went provisional pole, but only just. 0.004 was the factory Yamaha rider’s advantage as he then pitted again in a two-stop strategy. With the other riders back out for their second runs, Quartararo couldn’t improve his lap time on his first attempt – 0.038 was the Frenchman’s deficit, with second fastest in Q1 Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech3) and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) quickly exchanging P6.
Rossi was then bang on the money but after losing two tenths in Sector 2, the Italian backed out of his lap. Compatriot Morbidelli and his teammate Quartararo were lighting the timesheets red in the first and second sectors, as Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) slotted himself into P6. Coming round the final sector, Morbidelli placed himself onto a dream provisional home Grand Prix pole position, with Quartararo unable to improve on his last flying lap. Third was the best Quartararo could hope for, but a black and blue Monster Energy stickered missile was outpacing the lot of them.
Viñales was two tenths under Morbidelli’s time and this was an absolute stunner from Top Gun. Viñales didn’t make any mistake in the final half of the lap to take the chequered flag with a new Misano lap record, taking the accolade away from Jorge Lorenzo. Viñales’ time was nearly four tenths faster than Morbidelli as the Italian settles for a sterling second on home soil, his best qualifying result of the season.
Quartararo completes the front row, 0.380 adrift from Viñales’ lap time. The 21-year-old didn’t sound too disheartened with P3, he’s looking strong to challenge for his third win of the season from the outside of the front row. Rossi spearheads Row 2 in P4 as The Doctor demonstrates there’s plenty of life in the old dog yet, that’s the number 46’s equal best Saturday afternoon result of 2020. Joining Rossi on the second row is Miller who improves on his last lap to get the better of injured teammate Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing). Both Pramac riders will be upbeat about qualifying in San Marino.
Rins is the leading Suzuki in P7, the Spaniard beats teammate Joan Mir by 0.012 in Q2, the latter – like Miller – leaping up the leaderboard on his last lap. Dovizioso, the man second in the Championship, will have to start from P9. Unfortunately, both Dovi and Ducati haven’t quite got themselves dialled in this weekend so far but they – almost – always find something on race day. Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing) completed the top 10, while Pol Espargaro managed to get out on his second bike to finish less than a tenth ahead of Oliveira – the Q1 graduates end Q2 P11 and P12.
Yamaha are back. No one could get within a tenth and a half of the YZR-M1s in qualifying, with polesitter Viñales really laying down the gauntlet ahead of Sunday’s crucial battle. Can anyone stop the Iwata onslaught in San Marino, and if not, who comes out on top in the Yamaha dogfight?
You know what to do – tune in for the MotoGP™ race at 14:00 local time (GMT+2) to see what twists and turns lie ahead for the premier class.
1. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) – 1:31.411
2. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) + 0.312
3. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) + 0.380
4. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 0.466
5. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) + 0.641
6. Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) + 0.643
7. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.679
8. Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.691
9. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) + 0.773
10. Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing) + 0.807
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