Championship top three on the front row despite a crash for Marquez
Maverick Vinales took his fourth pole of the season at Misano, heading a front row covered by just 0.197 of a second and including all three title contenders.
The Movistar Yamaha rider was using a 2018 chassis and the aero bodywork, and the former had returned his earlier confidence. “The bike was going well, so I knew I could try for pole. I was just riding smoothly,” he said.
He displaced crowd favourite and points leader Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) at the last gasp. With four wins to three each for his rivals, Dovi was the only factory Ducati to ride without aero bodywork. His methodical approach had paid dividends, however, and he hoped for more, in the different conditions predicted for tomorrow.
Rain is expected, or at the least a big temperature drop, after a sunny Saturday, making tyre choice crucial – a point emphasised by third-fastest Marc Marquez.
The Repsol Honda rider had been fastest in free practice, but he scuppered any chance of a fifth pole in succession with his second crash of the weekend, on his second Q2 exit. He’d already spoiled that lap by running over track limits, he said; “then I lost the front when I touched a white line.”
Cal Crutchlow claimed a storming fourth, barely a tenth of the front row on the LCR Honda, and overcoming left-hand injuries after severing the tendon in his index finger while cutting cheese earlier in the week. Riding was awkward, he admitted; and he was having to use his body differently to compensate.
Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati) and a late-charging Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha) completed the second row; a thwarted (by traffic) Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) led the third from Danilo Petrucci (Pramac Ducati) and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia).
Behind them, three more Ducatis, with Alvaro Bautista and Aspar team-mate Karel Abraham, both through from Q1, bracketing factory tester Michele Pirro., whose chances were spoiled by a broken front wheel and flat tyre early in the session.
Jack Miller (VDS Honda) and Jonas Folger (Monster Yamaha) had both set times apparently good enough to get through from Q1, but were dropped out when their best laps were cancelled for exceeding track limits. They ended up 14th and 16th respectively.
Mattia Pasini donned a replica Marco Simoncelli helmet at the circuit named after the fallen Italian rider, and took it to an emotional fourth pole in a row in Moto2.
Points leader Franco Morbidelli (VDS Kalex) had to be content with a close second to the Italtrans rider in spite of his best efforts, ending up less than a tenth adrift.
Dominique Aegerter (Kiefer Suter) was third, for his second front row of the year; with last year’s winner Lorenzo Baldassarri heading the all-Kalex second row from Silverstone winner Taka Nakagami and top rookie Pecco Bagnaia.
Title challenger Thomas Luthi was seventh, heading row three.
There was the usual Honda domination in Moto3, taking the top five slots after the only close KTM challengers were ruled out – Gabriel Rodrigo by crashing on the last corner while massively the fastest, and Nicolo Bulega when his lap time was cancelled for exceeding track limits.
Pole went to Enea Bastianini, his first this year as he finally picks up the pace after finishing second at Silverstone. Jorge Martin was alongside, then runaway points leader Joan Mir.
By Michael Scott