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Rossi on pole at Mugello | MOTOGP | SPORT

Wearing his latest “tribute to Italy” Tricolore-themed helmet in front of the usual adoring fans, Valentino Rossi made dreams come true at Mugello with his first pole position in almost two years.

It was his 55th top-class pole in his career, achieved with a new record speed for the fast and sweeping 5.245-km Italian GP circuit in the Apennine foothills outside Florence. And a big confidence boost for himself, and as importantly for the whole Movistar Yamaha team, with second rider Maverick Vinales joining him on the front row.

His last pole was in Japan in 2016, and earlier in the same year he was on pole at Mugello.

“This year I have never been on the front row, so it is something special, also in this track,” he said, talking of how they had found an improved balance for the bike. “But with race tyres it will be hard … I hope also for our opponents,” he said.

Vinales was third, also crediting fruitful adjustments. “This morning was bad, but we knew where we were having problems. When I feel confident, I can be fast,” he said.

Jorge Lorenzo was in between, his first front row this year, the trio covered by less than a tenth. “It’s a pleasure to be competitive,” he said. A modified fuel tank giving him better support under braking had made a big difference, he added, “in confidence, and mainly energy.”

The front row was a boost also for the Ducati rider, on the weekend that he confirmed he will be leaving the team next year. But the three of them denied a similar satisfaction for Andrea Iannone, who led yesterday, one day after announcing he has been dropped by the factory Ecstar Suzuki team.

Iannone ended up a close fourth to head row two from Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Ducati).

This final flurry, along with a trade-mark save from a near high-speed crash, dropped championship leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) to sixth, at the far end of row two, at a track where he has claimed just one premier-class win in five tries.

Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) heads row three, less than three tenths off pole, with the top dozen inside eight tenths.

Alongside him, Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) and Johann Zarco (Tech3 Yamaha), who was one of several to fall in FP4, along with team-mate Hafizh Syahrin, Alex Rins, Aleix Espargaro and an off-form Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda), who ended up way back in 20th, on the seventh row.

Rins (Ecstar Suzuki) qualified tenth, less than a tenth ahead of Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Ducati), who had come through from Q1, along with Vinales. Rookie Franco Morbidelli (VDS Honda) was 12th; Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Ducati) best of the rest.


Last year’s vintage Moto2 winner Mattia Pasini proved his enduring relationship with the Mugello circuit with a narrow pole position, the Italtrans rider heading a Kalex top ten, only just short of an absolute track record.

His late run denied a first pole to German Marcel Schrotter (Dynavolt Kalex) by three hundredths of a second.

Alex Marquez (EG Kalex) completes row one; championship leader Pecco Bagnaia (SKY VR46 Kalex) head the second, less than four tenths away from pole in a close-matched time sheet, the first 19 inside one second.

Simone Corsi (Tasca Kalex) and rookie Romano Fenati (Marinelli Kalex) complete the second row; Luca Marini (SKY VR46 Kalex) heads the third from early crasher Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP40 Kalex) and hot-shot rookie Joan Mir (EG Kalex), who was fastest yesterday.

Jorge Navarro (Federal Oils Kalex) completes the top ten, fractionally ahead of Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM) on the first non-Kalex.


In Moto3 Jorge Martin made no mistake for pole number 13: the Del Conca Gresini rider heading an all-Honda top four. He is now equal with Alex Rins for the number of Moto3 poles.

Alongside him, the Japanese pair, with Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58) and Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas), a first time on the front row for each of them.

Martin was just a few tenths short of the track’s best time, and heading a typically close pack, with 19 riders in the same second. But the Spaniard, reliably fastest, is aching for a race finish, after falling innocent victim to other riders at the past two rounds.

Instead it is Redox KTM rider Marco Bezzecchi heading the championship, qualified fourth between Aron Canet (EG Honda) and Fabio di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Honda).

Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Honda) cane back from a heavy crash yesterday to head row three from Adam Norrodin (Petronas Honda) and Marcos Ramirez (Bester KTM). With Kaito Toba (Honda) completing the top ten, fancied runner Enea Bastianini (Honda) was qualified 14th, and last year’s winner Andrea Migno (KTM) 15th.

By Michael Scott

Crowd, Italian MotoGP 2018