Photos courtesy of MotoGP.com
Jorge Lorenzo broke his own 2016 pole lap record (achieved onboard a Yamaha YZR-M1) at Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli today with the Ducati Desmosedici GP18 in an adrenaline-fuelled qualifying on the Adriatic, searing around the venue in a 1:31.629s to lower his own fastest lap time and secure Ducati’s first pole at the venue since 2008. Jack Miller of Alma Pramac Racing put in a stunner at his team’s home race to take second and qualify as top Independent Team rider, with Movistar Yamaha‘s Maverick Viñales locking out the front row after a last lunge for the front. One key name missing from that trio is Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez, top qualifier in this season so far, who did not make it onto the front row – he crashed. Lorenzo’s ominous form was certainly a key headline but the drama for the Championship leader lit up the session.
Crashing on his second run in a relatively fast low-side, the number 93 was straight to his feet without pause for thought and sprinting to get a lift back to the pits. Once back in the paddock on the back of a scooter, he hit the ground running again to run through his Repsol Honda garage from front to back, straight back on his other machine and heading back out again.
The first sector looked like it might it be possible as it lit up red, but the reigning Champion then lost some time and it wasn’t to be. So he’ll line up fifth – his equal worst qualifying in the premier class at the venue – and he’ll have some serious company in the form of Andrea Dovizioso , who’s just alongside him in 4th.
Marquez said that he didn’t realise he had a stone in his eye as he raced back to continue the qualifying session after a crash in Misano. The World Champion lost the front end of his Honda RC213V at turn fifteen in the middle of the session. Whilst running away from the scene to get back onto his second bike, Marquez said that he didn’t realise as a result of the crash a stone had gotten stuck in his eye.
“It’s not an excuse, but when I crash the visor opened and I didn’t notice I had a small stone in my eye,” said the Spaniard who will start from the middle of the second row. Initially I didn’t notice but then it was so difficult to be precise and concentrate. They got it out afterward with some paper and water.”
Marquez had barely stopped rolling before he was jumping over the tyre wall and running to find a bike to get him back to the pits. When he got there it was a mad dash to get him back, but Marquez wanted to thank the marshal who got him back so quickly.
“The guy on the scooter did a good job, pushing to get me back to the pits,” said Marquez jokingly. “It was scary sometimes as I thought we might crash, but he did a great job.”
Regarding Sunday’s race, Marquez said the Ducati looks really good with new tyres, which may be an ominous sign with Lorenzo starting from the pole position.
“The Ducati is very fast, it has great stability in the corners and above all in acceleration,” he said.
“With the new tyre they manage to make the difference, less with the used one. Tomorrow we will have to see how the tyres behave in the warm up and let us find ready in the race.”
Despite this, Marquez said he wouldn’t give up his hopes of securing another win and building on his 59-point lead in the World Championship.
“I won’t give up yet, partly because I know I have a good pace and FP4 confirmed that. The fact is, that at Misano the track conditions change quickly. We will race after the Moto2 race and there will be less grip,” the Spaniard added.
Behind Dovizioso and Marquez, Cal Crutchlow was 6th and completes the second row, suffering a low-drama crash near the end of the session. And the Brit broke some local hearts, with Valentino Rossi pushed down to head up the third row.
Rossi has had a weekend of ups and downs so far at his home venue, just making it into that all-important top ten on Friday and continuing worked hard on Saturday to get race ready. In qualifying the rider from Tavullia was hovering around the second row, before just losing out in that last minute shuffle. Row 2 is completed by last year’s podium finisher Danilo Petrucci and fellow Independent Team rider Johann Zarco.
Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins was tenth fastest and top Hamamatsu machine after teammate Andrea Iannone just failed to make it through to Q2 – he starts P13 – with two-time Misano winner Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) in P11. Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) completes the top 12.
Behind Iannone, wildcard compatriot Michele Pirro (Ducati Test Team) took P14 after a crash hampered his chances in Q1, and Alvaro Bautista (Angel Nieto Team) completed the top 15.