Smooth operator: Bagnaia leads Ducati 1-2 at Misano

2021-09-22 08:06
Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) remains the man to beat as the sun sets on Saturday at the Gran Premio Octo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini, with the Italian setting another all-time lap record to take pole position. It's his third of the year and with teammate Jack Miller in second, the first factory Ducati 1-2 in back to back Grands Prix. To copy-paste the front row from MotorLand but with a seemingly pretty different race ahead, it's Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) in third despite a crash for the Frenchman in Q2.

Enea Bastianini (Avintia Esponsorama) is on a good roll of form recently and the rookie topped Q1 on home turf, setting the fastest lap to head through ahead of eight-time World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team). The number 23 unfortunately then slid out after the flag, but no harm done, although there was plenty of drama earlier in the session.

Sadly, Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha SRT) slid out early as the ‘Doctor’ pushes for the penultimate time on home turf, and both Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) found and exceeded the limit.

On track it got close too, with Marc Marquez’ final run seeing the number 93 catch HRC test rider Stefan Bradl and lose a little time - the German also on a hot lap and entitled to keep pushing - and Bastianini also found himself tucked up behind Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol). In the end though, Bastianini remained unthreatened in first regardless, and Marc Marquez took that second spot in Q2.

Bagnaia left it relatively late but once again arrived on provisional pole in style. The Italian smashed in his new record with just under two minutes to go, slamming down the gauntlet. He already had the best race lap at Misano, so why not add the all-time lap record? Miller moved into second not long after that but couldn't quite get in touch, with everything then left to Quartararo. Could the Frenchman do it?

He has done before with some Saturday heroics but this time wasn't to be, as he suddenly slid out of contention and early in the lap too. The last likely challenger to Bagnaia's cloud nine of a week so far had to bow out, rider ok but not able to improve from third.

There was also drama for Marc Marquez and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) as both crashed out - separately and in that order - losing the chance to move up the order in the latter minutes.

The Grid
A Ducati 1-2 sees Bagnaia and Miller ready to prime those holeshot devices at Misano, with Quartararo on the outside of the front row. With Bagnaia's pace looking mighty, the Frenchman will want to make sure he stays on the two Ducati Lenovo Team machines as a minimum at lights out.

El Diablo also finds himself with a Ducati armada behind as Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) slotted into fourth, top Independent Team rider just ahead of teammate Johann Zarco, who continues to suffer arm pump issues but pulled a solid lap out the bag on Saturday.

Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) edged out teammate Marc Marquez in the end to complete the second row, with MM93 shuffled down to the head of Row 3. He's joined by fellow Q2 crasher Aleix Espargaro, with the Aprilia rider losing out on P7 by just 0.002. it's still the Noale factory's best qualifying at Misano though. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) will start ninth after a step back forward at Misano.

Guess who's tenth? Yep, it's Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini). After going fastest on Friday and getting straight into Q2, his second weekend with the Noale factory is going well and he'll line up there. He has reigning Champion Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) for company, the number 36 left frustrated after some miscommunication saw him box at the wrong time, with Bastianini the last of Q2 in P12.

Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), meanwhile, was provisionally up there early on in Q1 but ended up P16 as he gets back in action following surgery on his knee. The back row of the grid will also have some serious firepower as Rossi lines up alongside returning veteran Andrea Dovizioso, who continues to settle in at Petronas Yamaha SRT and on the YZR-M1.


That's it from Saturday at Misano, at least for the first time this year. Can the smooth operator go two from two in ten days? Will Quartararo fight back? What can Miller bring to the party? Or Mir? Tune in at 14:00 (GMT +2) to find out, with another stunner promised on the Riviera di Rimini.
MotoGP™ front row
1 Francesco Bagnaia - Ducati Lenovo Team - Ducati - 1:31.065
2 Jack Miller - Ducati Lenovo Team - Ducati - +0.249
3 Fabio Quartararo - Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP - Yamaha - +0.302

Top Independent Team rider
4 Jorge Martin - Pramac Racing - Ducati - +0.598
MotoGP™ front row L-R: Quartararo, Bagnaia and Miller
Francesco Bagnaia: "It's a track where I've found everything very well, in Aragon from the start of the sessions in Aragon I felt great with everything, the bike is working perfectly. This weekend we tried something different because in FP1 it started to rain, in FP2 it was raining so it was more difficult to have a good feeling from the start. But we worked well and this moment I think we have great pace, Fabio also, but we're very competitive I think."
Miller made it another Ducati 1-2, a first for the factory squad back to back
Quartararo crashed but completes the front row
Martin took top Independent Team rider honours once again, once again!
Raul Fernandez hits another rookie milestone with pole at Misano
The Red Bull KTM Ajo rider is the first debutant since Marc Marquez to take five or more poles in Moto2™
Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) keeps impressing and the rookie again took pole at the Gran Premio di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini, the first since MM93 to take five or more in a rookie Moto2™ season. He's joined by Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing) in second, with Lowes' teammate and man on form Augusto Fernandez taking third - back on the front row for the first time since 2019. Given his recent run of podiums, that could be a warning shot.

Rookie Celestino Vietti topped Q1 for Sky Racing Team VR46, and it was timed well as again rain threatened the intermediate class. He moved through, joined by Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Italtrans Racing Team), his teammate Joe Roberts and Friday's fastest Tom Lüthi (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team) in the fight for pole position.

There were no crashes, a low drama session despite the stakes.

It was dry enough to push and P1 changed hands a number of times as the clock ticked down towards zero, with Raul Fernandez and his teammate, Championship leader Remy Gardner, trading fast laps with Aron Canet (Inde Aspar Team) and Fabio Di Giannantonio (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2). But with four minutes remaining, it was Brit Lowes who had just fired himself to the top of the timesheets as he zeroed in on consecutive poles.

Shortly after, Jorge Navarro (+Ego Speed Up) tried to get in on the front row fun, but his effort was quickly knocked back by Gardner and Canet, with the Spaniard pulling off a brilliant save seconds after recording a personal best time. Then it was Augusto Fernandez’ turn to crash the party, slotting in just behind Lowes to make it a Marc VDS one-two as riders began to take the chequered flag.

The session wasn’t just over yet though, with Raul Fernandez lighting up the screen with red sectors as he obliterated what was the time to beat, securing a fifth pole position of the season.

The Grid
Fernandez - R heads the grid from Lowes and Fernandez - A, with that already poised for a stunner. Gardner then heads up Row 2, sure to fight it out again, joined by Canet and Navarro in P5 and P6 respectively.

Xavi Vierge (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and home hero Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46) are next up, with Di Giannantonio leaving it late to post his best lap and take P9 on Row 3. The Italians know success on home turf and will want plenty more, likewise Q1 graduate Dalla Porta as completes the top 10 after a good Saturday at Misano.


The scene is set with the timesheets back to something we're more accustomed to in 2021... but who will lock out the Moto2™ podium? Raul Fernandez could wrap up Rookie of the Year too, so make sure to tune in at 12:20 (GMT +2)!
Moto2™ front row:
1 Raul Fernandez - Red Bull KTM Ajo - Kalex - 1'36.264
2 Sam Lowes - Elf Marc VDS Racing Team - Kalex - +0.351
3 Augusto Fernandez - Elf Marc VDS Racing Team - Kalex - +0.524

Source: Dorna Sports

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