Maverick Vinales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) took pole position on his penultimate lap in qualifying for the Gran Premio Tribul Mastercard di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini, deposing home hero and key Championship rival Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), who will now start second. Completing the top three is reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), who crashed in the session when on his fastest lap – rider ok.
Despite doubts about the weather, Saturday gave the grid good conditions for practice and qualifying at Misano, and pole position came down to a three-way duel. Dovizioso was the man on provisional pole as Viñales and Marquez began their final pushes, with the younger Spaniard going fastest on his penultimate effort and then rolling off after Marquez fell out of contention.
Fourth was a late dash from Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda), riding with a finger injury, and the Brit headed five-time World Champion Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) by only 0.024 seconds. Joining the experienced duo on Row 2 is rookie Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), who bounced back from a crash on Saturday morning to take a second row start in sixth.
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) is seventh – one place higher than his qualifying position last year, when he went on to win – with Friday’s fastest Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing) taking eighth. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) moved up slightly on his last lap, and completes the third row in P9.
Alvaro Bautista (Pull&Bear Aspar Team) is P10 after leading the charge from Q1, with Ducati test rider and wildcard Michele Pirro suffering a problem in the session and lining up in eleventh. Karel Abraham (Pull&Bear Aspar Team) completed the top twelve.
From Q1, P13 is Hector Barbera (Reale Avintia Racing) despite a big crash earlier on Saturday, with Jack Miller (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) in fourteenth after having a lap deleted. Loris Baz (Reale Avintia Racing) locked out the fastest fifteen, with Jonas Folger (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) also falling foul of track limits and relegated to P16 after marginally heading wide in Q1.
Now it’s race time. Will we see a re-run of 2017 and the number 26 slicing through the field? Can Marquez bounce back, Viñales go one better, Dovizioso make it three in a row? And the big question: will it be rain or shine on Sunday…
MotoGP Qualifying Results
1 – Maverick Viñales (SPA – Yamaha) 1:32.439
2 – Andrea Dovizioso (ITA – Ducati) +0.162
3 – Marc Marquez (SPA – Honda) +0.197
1st Independent Team Rider:
P4 – Cal Crutchlow (GBR – Honda) 1:32.768