Quartararo draws first to deny Marquez the final pole of 2019

2019-11-18 02:42
On Friday at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana, it was all about one man: Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT). A day later and the headlines don’t need too much adjusting, with the French rookie putting in another superlative performance in qualifying to take the final pole position of the season – his sixth in his rookie year. It was a close run duel with reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), however, with the number 93 losing out by just 0.032 despite a crash in FP4. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing), another man with some serious pace so far, converted that into a front row start and he’ll start third.

The chill had been taken out the day by the time qualifying came around, and in Q1 it was Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) vs Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) in a duel for supremacy – with the former coming out on top, but by just 0.005. Johann Zarco (LCR Honda Idemitsu) was the man who just lost out in P13, with the 12 men ahead of him then heading out to fight for pole.

Given his performances in qualifying so far this season, it was no surprise to see Quartararo on provisional pole after the first run, but Miller was coming. The Australian was able to take over at the top as the riders headed back out, but it didn’t take too long for Quartararo to strike back. Provisionally fastest once again and Marquez taking over in second, there remained one more shot at it for most. Could the reigning Champion ruin the rookie party?

As the clock ticked down, many were still pushing but the timing screens remained resolutely free of red. Quartararo couldn’t better himself, and Marquez and Miller had no answer for the Frenchman. So a sixth pole of the season is the number 20’s sign off from rookie Saturdays, and he’ll be aiming, as ever, for a maiden win on Sunday. But Marquez will doubtless be keen to stand in his way as he homes in on 400 points, with Miller with his own high stakes as he aims to stop Quartararo taking the title of top Independent Team rider too.

On the second row it’s Sepang winner Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) in fourth, with Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) in a solid fifth. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) slotted into sixth as the only man who improved on his final lap, aiming to stop Marquez from giving Repsol Honda the teams’ Championship.

Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) got the better of Q1 graduate and teammate Alex Rins to take seventh, with Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) completing the third row alongside the two Suzukis. Ducati Team’s Danilo Petrucci rounds out the top 10 in Valencia.

Pol Espargaro managed to beat Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) to P11, with the KTM man aiming even higher on race day. But on that race day, Rossi will be eager to hit back and move a good way forward - with Saturday sessions largely having seen 'The Doctor' further forward, despite a tough Friday.

Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team), meanwhile, will begin an emotionally-charged final race of his career from 16th.

Can Quartararo grab that first MotoGP™ win before the 2019 season comes to a close? The scrap for the final 25 points of the year looks set to be a cracker, with plenty on the table and history guaranteed to be made. Tune in for the Valencia GP at 14:00 local time (GMT+1).
Qualifying results:
1 - Fabio Quartararo* (FRA - Yamaha) 1'29.978
2 - Marc Marquez (SPA - Honda) +0.032
3 - Jack Miller* (AUS - Ducati) +0.108

*Independent Team rider

Marquez was...overshadowed, but by mere hundredths

Miller locked out the front row

Front row L-R: Marquez, Quartararo and Miller
Navarro pips Martin for home turf pole
The rider from Valencia comes out on top by mere hundredths, Manzi puts MV Agusta on the front row

Jorge Navarro (MB Conveyors Speed Up) has taken the final Moto2™ pole position of the season on home turf, but he had close company from rookie Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana. The two Spaniards are split by just 0.017, with Stefano Manzi claiming a maiden front row start of the season for MV Agusta Temporary Forward in third.

Navarro’s teammate Fabio Di Giannantonio was the early pacesetter in Moto2™ Q2, but the Italian’s session would soon end in the gravel trap at Turn 5. With seven minutes to go ‘Diggia’ remained top as his 2018 Moto3™ teammate Martin slotted himself into P2, however, and it was then Manzi’s turn to get even closer as the gap was cut to 0.039. Free Practice timesheet topper Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) then took second, but soon the tables turned and it was another Speed Up at the summit – Navarro going 0.185 faster than anyone and Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) going second quickest.

It wasn’t done there though. Manzi then went second ahead of his fellow VR46 Academy rider Marini to all-but seal MV’s first Moto2™ front row of the season. It wouldn’t prove to be P2 though, as that went to Martin in the dying stages of the session as two Spaniards sit first and second at their home round - Navarro a Valencian too. Manzi’s class weekend continues as he picks up his best-ever Grand Prix front row start.

Marini had to settle for P4 in the end, ahead of Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP), who will aim to claim the 2019 runners-up spot from the middle of the second row. Di Giannantonio could do nothing more than watch on as he slipped to P6 from provisional pole.

Binder will have been hoping for more and he'll scrap with Lüthi for P2 in the World Championship from the front of a third row completed by Augusto Fernandez (FlexBox HP 40) and Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team). Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) completed the top 10.

Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), Mattia Pasini (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2), Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team) and Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) were next up, ahead of 2019 World Champion Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) in P15.

We look set for a sensational final Moto2™ race of 2019, so tune in for it live at 12:20 local time (GMT+1) on Sunday!
Qualifying results:
1 - Jorge Navarro (SPA - Speed Up) 2'05.244
2 - Jorge Martin (SPA - KTM) +0.017
3 - Stefano Manzi (ITA - MV Agusta) +0.172

Source: Dorna Sports

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