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MEDIA RELEASE/MotoGP – Photo: supplied

It was a truly spectacular second pole position of the season for Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) thanks to a new Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli lap record on Saturday, with the Spaniard’s 1:31.411 putting him ahead of second-placed Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) by 0.312. Third place went to World Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT)… and fourth place went the way of home hero Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) – making i the first time they’ve finished 1-2-3-4 in qualifying in the MotoGP™ era!

Viñales was the first rider to set a flying lap time in the second qualifying session, and 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 time around…

Another rider to be getting the hammer down 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.

By this time, Viñales had slipped to P5 and was out on his lonesome on his second run. A personal best saw him stay fifth, before a faster lap then came in for the number 12. It was provisional pole, but only just – with the gap a tiny 0.004 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 the Frenchman’s deficit, as 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 then lighting the timesheets up 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, and Quartararo unable to improve on his last flying lap. Was that it? Not quite…

Viñales was two tenths under Morbidelli’s time as an absolute stunner started coming in from Top Gun. Nailing the final half of the lap to take the chequered flag with a new Misano lap record, and taking that accolade away from Yamaha test rider Jorge Lorenzo, Viñales’ time gave him plenty of clear air ahead of Morbidelli. The Italian is therefore forced to settle for a sterling second on home soil, but it’s his best qualifying result of the season.

Quartararo completes the front row, 0.380 adrift from Viñales. The 21-year-old didn’t sound too disheartened with P3 though, 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, and that’s the number 46’s equal best Saturday afternoon result of 2020. Joining Rossi on the second row is Miller who improved on his last lap to get the better of injured teammate Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing), but both Pramac riders had an upbeat qualifying in San Marino.

Rins is the leading Suzuki in P7, the Spaniard beating teammate Joan Mir by 0.012 in Q2 and 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 but race day is another day – as we’ve seen a good few times from the number 04. Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing) completed the top 10, while Pol Espargaro managed to get out on his second bike after his crash and finish less than a tenth ahead of Oliveira – the Q1 graduates ending Q2 in P11 and P12.

Yamaha are back! After two tougher rounds, 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 on race day… and in the title fight.

MotoGP™ front row 

Maverick Viñales – Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP – Yamaha – 1:31.411 
Franco Morbidelli* – Petronas Yamaha SRT – Yamaha – +0.312
Fabio Quartararo* – Petronas Yamaha SRT – Yamaha – +0.380
*Independent Team riders

Maverick Viñales: “I felt on the limit! We tried to take the maximum from the bike and for sure we made a good strategy, I saved a lot of tyres in the weekend to use in Q2, and it pays. I feel amazing, anyway I had some good weeks at home, we carry on the good mood and every lap I felt fantastic on the bike. I’m enjoying the weekend a lot and we’ll try to go to the maximum tomorrow too.”

Lowes takes pole, Gardner lines up to start from the front on Sunday MOTO2

Sam Lowes (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) was the class of the field in Q2 at the Gran Premio Lenovo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini, taking pole position by over two and a half tenths and smashing the lap record in the process. However, the Brit will start from pitlane on Sunday due to a penalty, promoting second-placed Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) to first on the grid. The third quickest man in Q2 was Championship leader Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46), so he’ll start second.

Q1 at Misano saw one surprise as impressive 2020 rookie Aron Canet (Oceanica Aspar Team Moto2) struggled to move through, and he’ll be on the fight back on Sunday. Heading the session though was a turnaround of fortunes for last year’s near-winner Fabio Di Giannantonio (+Ego Speed Up), the Italian moving through to the fight for pole alongside Hector Garzo (Flexbox HP 40), Joe Roberts (Tennor American Racing Team) and teammate Marcos Ramirez.

The opening flying laps in Q2 saw former lap record holder Bezzecchi sit top of the pile, before Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) took provisional pole. However, Lowes was flying and the British rider set a devilishly quick 1:36.666 to take charge, with Bezzecchi improving his time but slotting into second. Then, Lowes was going even faster – a lot faster at that. The number 22 came across the line to break the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli lap record, and no one would threaten it.

Gardner was the man closest as he shot up from nowhere into second, set to start first, with Marini slotting into third on the timesheets and therefore the first of the top Championship challengers on the grid. Fourth in the session but joining the two on the front row will be Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46), who went down at the final corner – thankfully unhurt – but lost his chance to improve…

Second in the Championship, Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) will spearhead the second row, fresh from a Ducati MotoGP™ signature, and the Italian is set to take the battle to Marini and Bezzecchi as the Moto2™ title fight looks set to heat up in Misano. Xavi Vierge’s (Petronas Sprinta Racing) sixth place in qualifying will see him start from fifth, his best qualifying result of the season and his best since the 2019 Malaysian GP., with Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) just over half a second away from Lowes in P7. The German will join Bastianini and Vierge on the second row.

2019 winner Augusto Fernandez was forced to settle for eighth in Q2, six tenths shy of his teammate’s time, the Spaniard heading Tetsuta Nagashima (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Q1 graduate Fabio Di Giannantonio, who took P9 and P10 respectively. They will therefore complete the third row.

A first pole in four years for Lowes unfortunately won’t see the number 22 line-up at the front of the grid, but the stage is set for a classic. Who will be leading the Championship come Sunday afternoon? Watch the Moto2™ race from San Marino at 12:20 local time (GMT+2).

Sam Lowes – EG0,0 Marc VDS  Kalex – 1:36.170    
Remy Gardner – ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team – Kalex +0.254
Luca Marini – Sky Racing Team VR46 – Kalex +0.332

Sam Lowes: “For me this year since, well after Qatar, I’ve been strong and felt quite good, even in Austria at a difficult track for me, I was still quick. But we have to start from pitlane tomorrow. This is racing, sometimes you have things like this but I’m happy to come here this weekend, get pole and have good pace. Hopefully we can still score some points in the race.”

Ogura takes maiden pole with last minute Misano dash Moto3

Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) took his maiden pole position on Saturday at the Gran Premio Lenovo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini, snatching the honour from Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) by just 0.016 in another tight qualifying session for Moto3™. 2019 winner Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) completes the front row by an even smaller margin – with the top three covered by just 0.031 at Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli. 

The fight to move through and take part in the fight for pole set the tone, with Tony Arbolino (Rivacold Snipers Team) coming out on top by less than a tenth to move through alongside Sterilgarda Max Racing Team’s Romano Fenati and Alonso Lopez, with BOE Skull Rider Facile Energy’s Ricardo Rossi the last graduate in a last minute shuffle.

In Q2 itself, the last minute dash was again the name of the game. It looked set to be another pole for Rodrigo as the flag flew, and Ogura’s laptime hadn’t initially looked like it would put him in the mix to challenge… but then came the final sector. Putting it together perfectly, the Japanese rider shot over the line and just snatched his maiden pole position.

Rodrigo was then forced to settle for second but has a nice clear view to Turn 1 on Sunday, with last year’s winner Suzuki setting himself up well for race day too in third. Andrea Migno (Sky Racing Team VR46) heads up Row 2 just behind them in a solid qualifying session, but the Italian will rue the tiny margin that kept him off the front row: 0.011.

Fenati put in Husqvarna’s best qualifying result since their return to the class this season as he lines up fifth, with Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) completing the third row. Row 3 is headed by Styria winner Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46), with the Italian joined by Jeremy Alcoba (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) and Tony Arbolino (Rivacold Snipers Team). Filip Salač (Rivacold Snipers Team) completes the top ten.

That leaves a couple of high profile names missing… Championship leader Albert Arenas (Pull&Bear Aspar Team) will start 13th as he attempts to stop Ogura gaining on him, and third overall John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) suffered a crash early in Q2 and then ended up P17. Can they move back through to take the fight to Ogura?

Find out on Sunday at 11:00 (GMT+2) as the lights go out for Moto3™ at the Gran Premio Lenovo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini.

Ai Ogura – Honda Team Asia – Honda – 1:42.403
Gabriel Rodrigo – Kömmerling Gresini Moto3 – Honda +0.016
Tatsuki Suzuki – SIC58 Squadra Corse – Honda – +0.031

Ai Ogura: “I was quite surprised after the flag because I saw on the big screen I was top, and I never finished in the top six in all the practices, so I was surprised! I have a really good feeling on the bike and I’m not sure about the tyre but I think we are ready for tomorrow!”


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