Magical Martin snatches pole from Pecco, Rossi 10th

The rookie left it late to claim a stunning fourth pole position of the season; The Doctor enjoys his final qualifying session in Valencia

For the fourth time in his rookie season, Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) will start on pole position as Ducati dominated the final MotoGP™ qualifying session of the season at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana. The Spaniard beat Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) by just 0.064s with his sublime 1:29.936, while Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) made it a Ducati front row lockout. Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha SRT), in his last-ever MotoGP™ qualifying session, claimed a classy P10.

The Q1 scrap

In Q1, Danilo Petrucci (Tech3 KTM Factory Racing) was participating in his final MotoGP™ qualifying session. All four KTMs were battling it out for a place in Q2, but Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was the early pacesetter. After the first runs, Rins led Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) from Petrucci and Iker Lecuona (Tech3 KTM Factory Racing), with Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) 5th.

Andrea Dovizioso (Petronas Yamaha SRT) and Binder exchanged P2 when the riders headed back out, both still over a tenth away from Rins’ time. No one could find more time on their last laps, seeing Rins and Binder head into Q2, with Dovizioso missing out by under a tenth. Petrucci finished P6 in Q1 and will start 16th in final MotoGP™ race.

A Bologna bullet front row lockout in a barnstormer

A pause in proceedings saw the near-capacity Circuit Ricardo Tormo crowd burst into a Mexican Wave, before the pole position shootout began. And straight away, Miller slammed in the best time of the weekend – a 1:30.479. Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) was P2 but 0.302s down on the Aussie, and on his next lap, Miller went even faster. The Ducati star thundered across the line to set a 1:30.325, before Pecco went just 0.015s slower than his teammate.

Astonishingly, Martin crossed the line and stuck in the exact same time as Miller. Literally nothing separated the Ducati duo, and after the first runs, it was a Bologna bullet 1-2-3, Bagnaia on the provisional front row. Rossi, after running wide at Turn 1 at the start of his final qualifying session while tucked behind close mate Pecco, was P11 after the first laps in Q2.

Time for Round 2. Again, Pecco and Rossi rumbled out of pitlane together – Italian’s past and present lapping together. On his first flying lap on his second set of tyres, Pecco struck, going P1 by over a tenth as Rossi leapt up to P7. Then, on his next lap, Pecco went even faster – his 1:30.000 was now 0.325s quicker than Martin and Miller, as Pecco then crashed unhurt at Turn 2.

This was significant though, because the yellow flags were out. However, Martin had safely negotiated through the first sector before Pecco’s crash, and the rookie fired in the first sub-1:30 lap time to pinch pole! Miller, pushing on his last flying lap, crashed at Turn 11 unhurt. And that was that. A scintillating last Q2 session of the season ended with Martin beating the Ducati factory duo to pole position in Valencia, a front row lockout for the GP21s.

Rows 2 to 4 – The Doctor’s final qualifying push

Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was the nearest competitor to the Ducatis in Q2 and bags P4, the 2020 World Champion beat fifth fastest Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) by less than a tenth, with Rins coming through Q1 to make it two GSX-RRs in the top six in qualifying – a rare sight.

Binder will spearhead Row 3 in P7, the South African will launch one place ahead of 2021 World Champion Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP). It’s been a quiet and tricky weekend so far for the Frenchman, and a P8 in qualifying isn’t what he’d have been looking for. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) finished P9, one place ahead of Rossi in P10.

10th for the nine-time World Champion in his final qualifying session is a job well done by the 42-year-old. It’s safe to say the Italian thoroughly enjoyed himself out there in the glistening sun, in front of a packed crowd, and now, Rossi will set his sights on ending his glistening career on a high. Morbidelli and FP3 pacesetter Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) will line-up in P11 and P12 for the season finale.

14:00 local time (GMT+1) – 2021’s finale

Sunday afternoon, Circuit Ricardo Tormo, 14:00 local time (GMT+1). It’s time to get set for what promises to be an emotional 2021 season finale, as we bid farewell to two much-adored heroes: Valentino Rossi and Danilo Petrucci. Don’t miss it!

Top 12:
1. Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) – 1:29.936
2. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) + 0.064
3. Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) + 0.064
4. Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.459
5. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) + 0.482
6. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.539
7. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) + 0.573
8. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 0.573
9. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) + 0.708
10. Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha SRT) + 0.810
11. Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 0.845
12. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) + 1.088


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