Advantage Bagnaia As Quartararo Faces Matchpoint From 15thPecco puts in a near-perfect Saturday for pole, with Miller and Marini completing a first ever Ducati 1-2-3 as Quartararo fails to make it out of Q1

For the first time since Casey Stoner in 2008, a Ducati rider has taken four consecutive MotoGP™ pole positions and that rider is Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team). The Italian stormed through from Q1 to grab a crucial Saturday afternoon pole at the Gran Premio Nolan del Made in Italy e dell’Emilia-Romagna, and on a day that saw Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) falter as he failed to make it through to Q2. El Diablo is therefore set to line up in 15th ahead of his first match point in the title fight.

Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) made it a factory Ducati a 1-2, missing out by mere hundredths, with Luca Marini (Sky VR46 Avintia) earning a maiden MotoGP™ front row to make it three Ducatis on the front row for the first time ever. After Saturday, despite the standings, it’s very much Advantage Bagnaia.

Q1 was a serious clash of the titans. Featuring both the title contenders and a whole host of fast faces after difficult conditions so far this weekend, it could have proved pivotal – and it did. All eyes were, understandably, locked on Bagnaia and Quartararo, and the two were putting on quite a show. Pecco, the lap record holder at the track but back from fully dry, peak conditions at the San Marino GP, was putting the pedal to the metal around a slightly damp Misano, and by mid-session the Italian was shearing chunks off his laptimes – beating his own best four times.

That was as Quartararo struggled a little but remained in contention to move through, the Frenchman seemingly finding enough time when he needed it, just not enough to threaten Bagnaia. But then Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol) split the two. Then it was Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar). Finally, Iker Lecuona (TEch3 KTM Factory Racing) took over in second behind Pecco and it was all coming down to the final push.

The Italian’s gap at the top was seven tenths, so with Quartararo hovering half a second down it seemed possible. But crossing the line, possible it proved not – and it was Lecuona heading through to Q2 in second, with the Championship leader in Q1 for the first time and failing to make the cut. To add insult to injury, his best lap was then also cancelled so it’s actually 15th for the Frenchman.

Reigning Champion Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) crashed in Q1, rider ok, as did and were Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), Ducati wildcard Michele Pirro and Enea Bastianini (Avintia Esponsorama) – leaving all looking for a comeback when the conditions look like they could change for the much better on Sunday.

From the outset, the spotlight remained on Bagnaia and the show continued to roll in from the Ducati rider. Setting a 1’33.045 early in the session, he was on rails and just kept putting in the laps. The drama came from elsewhere.

An out-the-seat moment for Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) left him pulling off a hero save but then looking a little uncomfortable, Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) crashed twice, Danilo Petrucci (Tech3 KTM Factory Racing) took a tumble and then so did teammate Lecuona. Then, Marc Marquez’ struggles went from wobble to crash, the number 93 tumbling late on but rider ok.

That created a few Yellow Flags for riders to navigate in their quest for a lap, and Bagnaia did just that – even on his final push, just far back enough from the Marquez crash to put in another effort. But he wasn’t going faster than the 1’33.045, although all was not lost as only two riders were putting together a serious challenge.

The first of those was Miller. A mixture of red and orange sectors showed the Australian was very much on terms with his teammate’s provisional pole lap, and as he crossed the line it really was incredibly close. But it remained in Pecco’s favour, the Italian staying top by just 0.025 but a Ducati 1-2 set to take on Misano.

That was despite the next challenge for the front row, because the only rider who made any threatening gains elsewhere in the session was Marini. The rookie put in a stunning effort to move himself onto a provisional front row for his home Grand Prix, and even more impressively within a tenth of pole. Ultimately unchallenged, that’s therefore the first Ducati 1-2-3.

The final dash of drama came courtesy of Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) as the Frenchman slid out and kept sliding, still hanging on but rider ok.

The Grid
Bagnaia’s dream grid was probably him on pole and Quartararo outside Q2, so whatever incantations the Ducati rider has been doing, there’s an argument in there somewhere for the existence of magic, religion, luck, or a combination of all three. He’ll head the grid from Miller, the Australian already stating he’s riding with common sense and Ducati in mind, with Marini aiming more for the top ten from third.

Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) heads Row 2 as top Honda, and the top Honda at Misano since 2017, and he’s joined by Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) – the latter the only Yamaha rider in the top 14.

Marc Marquez had to settle for seventh after a troubled Q2, but Lecuona lines up alongside his compatriot in P8 for his best-ever MotoGP™ qualifying result. Petrucci makes it a day to remember for Tech3 KTM Factory Racing on the Italian’s final race on home soil in ninth, with Zarco’s late crash in his pursuit of a better starting place leaving him in tenth. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) and the double crash for Martin see the Spaniards launch from P11 and P12.

The perfect adjective for Saturday at Misano must exist, but with such a rollercoaster of a day for the weather and the contenders, it may take a while to find. Bagnaia’s mission for qualifying is most definitely complete, however, and now all that remains is race day. The skies are expected to be dry and El Diablo has some serious speed in those conditions, so the MotoGP™ race is absolutely not to be missed. Make sure to tune in at 14:00 (GMT +2) for the first Match Point in the premier class!

MotoGP™ Warm Up has been re-scheduled for 10am.

MotoGP™ front row
1 Francesco Bagnaia – Ducati Lenovo Team – Ducati – 1’33.045
2 Jack Miller – Ducati Lenovo Team – Ducati – +0.025
3 Luca Marini* – SkyVR46 Avtintia – Ducati – +0.085

*Independent Team rider

Francesco Bagnaia: “I’m very happy. It wasn’t easy. This morning my feeling in the wet was ok, I was feeling great but then we put in new tyres – I started on used tyres – when we put new tyres on I started struggling a lot, I overheated the rear tyre and it was difficult to have traction. So I didn’t manage to get in the top ten. But then… in these conditions, I think it’s maybe better to be in Q1. In FP4 I was feeling great, doing laps and the consistency was ok, then in Q1 I just tried to do all the session riding, and my confidence was better every lap. The feeling was ok, in Q2 I just tried to set a good time. I wasn’t thinking that was enough because on the second time attack I was struggling a bit more. But finally yes! So I’m very happy, it’s the best way to finish Saturday in front of the fans, for me it’s a great day.”

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Advantage Bagnaia As Quartararo Faces Matchpoint From 15th
MotoGP™ front row L-R: Miller, Bagnaia and Marini

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