Reigning MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez denied Danilo Petrucci his maiden pole position at the Sachsenring this afternoon, beating the Italian by a tenth of a second to bag his eighth successive top qualifying spot at the German track. Petrucci, who signed a new deal with Pramac this morning, came through qualifying one with a lap only seven seconds slower than his best in the dry and immediately took charge with a 1’28.671 and then dropped it to a 1’27.815 as Marquez began to climb up the order.
However, midway during Q2, Marquez had a minor clash with compatriot Maverick Vinales on a fast lap, with the pair swapping paint but it didn’t affect the Repsol Honda rider as Marquez swept into the lead on a 1’27.443 which beat Petrucci’s best of 1’27.462. The Italian banged his tank in frustration but got his head down to try another lap but just didn’t have the pace. Marquez rubbed his nose in it with a final lap of 1’27.302 to continue his domination in Saxony as the track began to dry out.
Team-mate Dani Pedrosa found some pace to finish on the front row with a 1’27.949 Britain’s Cal Crutchlow will lead the second row after he found a 1’28.029 while Jonas Folger, on the 2016 Monster Tech3 bike, is by far and away the fastest Yamaha in fifth place as his team-mate and the factory M1s had a nightmare. Valentino Rossi was 12th until a late gamble on the medium wet instead of the soft saw him scrabble to ninth place while Vinales paddled around to 11th place, finishing 1.521s off the pace on the new chassis.
French rider Johann Zarco, meanwhile, had the biggest nightmare as he will start tomorrow’s race in 19th – a far cry from his pole last time out. Jorge Lorenzo led the factory Ducatis in far from his favourite conditions with the Espargaro brothers next along. Pol took his KTM through qualifying one to end in seventh with Aleix in eighth, one ahead of Rossi. Andrea Dovizioso was a tenth faster than Vinales with Alvaro Bautista in 12th place.
Jack Miller was nudged out of a Q2 spot by Espargaro, so starts in 13th place with Loris Baz in 14th and Bradley Smith on his KTM completing the top 15. Andrea Iannone started Q1 very fast but slipped back down the order after running off track at the start of his last Q1 lap. The Ecstar Suzuki man starts in 16th, with KTM test rider Mika Kallio in 17th. Zarco follows Hector Barbera while Sam Lowes had a big crash on the exit of turn seven when the rear of his Aprilia caught the white line and he was pitched into the gravel.
British rider Scott Redding continues to be a regular crasher in MotoGP class with another low-side in Q1, ending second to last in the wet condition where he usually excels and his team reported he could find no feeling with the Pramac Ducati. This won’t do him any good where his career is heading especially when team-mate Petrucci is on the front row for the third race in succession.