Not since 2011 has Alex De Angelis (Octo Pramac MotoE) taken pole position in the MotoGP™ paddock, but the Sammarinese rider was a cut above his rivals in E-Pole at the Gran Premio Octo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini to take his first FIM Enel MotoE™ World Cup pole position. It was a close duel for the top with Matteo Ferrari (Trentino Gresini MotoE), however, as the Italian was forced to settle for second by half a tenth. Xavier Simeon (Avintia Esponsorama Racing) took third to complete the front row.
In the order dictated by combined practice times, the riders headed out one-by-one, with the fastest three heading for parc ferme before a faster rider knocked them out. After finishing 13th at the end of the two Free Practice sessions, De Angelis was the sixth rider to head out and the Sammarinese rider’s lap time was over a second better than Lorenzo Savadori’s (Trentino Gresini MotoE) earlier benchmark. Overall standings leader Mike Di Meglio (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) was then out on track straight after De Angelis, but big drama hit as the Frenchman’s E-Pole ended early at Turn 6, a huge highside as he powered onto the straight meaning the points leader has to start from the back of the grid after failing to set a time.
The laps kept coming as the faster riders from practice headed out, but no one could better De Angelis’ time. Eric Granado (Avintia Esponsorama Racing) went to P3 but the Brazilian’s lap was scrubbed off for exceeding track limits at the final corner. Jesko Raffin (Dynavolt Intact GP) then ran De Angelis close to go P2, displacing Maria Herrera (OpenBank Angel Nieto Team) from second place at the time. Then, it was the turn of second in the Cup standings Bradley Smith. Could the One Energy Racing rider capitalise on the misfortunes of his title rival?
The British rider put in a solid lap but could only manage to get within 0.3 of provisional pole, that nevertheless a valuable time on the board to give the Brit a significant advantage over Di Meglio on the grid in Race 1 and Race 2.
Niki Tuuli (Ajo MotoE) was next up, the Finn setting the timing screens alight and looking like a serious threat. Up in sector one, even quicker in sector two and with over three tenths in his pocket in sector three, the Ajo rider looked set to challenge. But then, Tuuli suddenly went down at Turn 14, forced to join Di Meglio at the back of the grid as even more drama hit another frontrunner.
Next, though, was Simeon, after the Belgian went third fastest in Free Practice. Could he oust de Angelis? Not quite. But he stuck his Energica Ego Corsa into P2, 0.109 off de Angelis’ time and with only Ferrari to come, that guaranteed him a front row start at least. So could Ferrari do it? He was up in the first split but lost time in the second, with a tense wait seeing De Angelis watch his rival’s lap from parc ferme and the timing screens showing it would be close. It was, but the rider from San Marino held on to make a little history. The two are also only a point apart in the standings, in fifth and sixth.
Raffin starts fourth after just losing out to Simeon, with Niccolo Canepa (LCR E-Team) impressing in fifth and Maria Herrera (Openbank Angel Nieto Team) likewise as she put in a solid lap to complete the second row. Smith was forced to settle for seventh, with Hector Garzo (Tech 3 E-Racing) alongside him after a tough day including a big crash earlier on for the Spaniard. Nico Terol (Openbank Angel Nieto Team) locks out the third row.
Mattia Casadei (Ongetta SIC58 Squadra Corse), Lorenzo Savadori (Trentino Gresini MotoE), Josh Hook (Octo Pramac MotoE), Kenny Foray (Tech 3 E-Racing) and Randy De Puniet (LCR E-Team) are next, with Sete Gibernau (Join Contract Pons 40) joining Granado, Di Meglio and Tuuli at the back after the Spanish veteran had his lap cancelled.
After such drama in E-Pole and a shaken up grid, Round 3 of the FIM Enel MotoE™ World Cup looks set to be a stunner. Tune in on Saturday at 16:15 local time (GMT+2) for Race 1, with the same grid for Race 2 at 10:05 on Sunday.
Fastest in qualifying
1 – Alex De Angelis (RSM) 1’44.660
2 – Matteo Ferrari (ITA) +0.048
3 – Xavier Simeon (BEL) +0.109
Alex De Angelis: “Obviously I’m really happy about today because it’s my first E-Pole, at my home GP and it’s an Octo GP which is also our sponsor so putting it all together it’s unbelievable, like a dream. I’m also surprised because this morning in FP1 and FP2 I had so much trouble with the set up and I asked my team to change direction completely. We did and I immediately felt much better on the lap before the qualifying. So I thought ‘ok, this is the time. Push and focus.’ And I did, I only made very small mistakes and the lap was incredibly fast. I knew it could be a good laptime but I didn’t think it was enough for pole. So I’m very happy, and I’d like to say thanks to my team and my family.”