Gran Premio d’Italia TIM, Mugello: Qualifying roundup – MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3

 In MotoGP, News




Andrea Iannone claimed Ducati’s first pole at Mugello since 2007, while Marc Marquez experienced his worst ever MotoGP™ Qualifying.

It was a day of contrasts at the Gran Premio D’Italia as Ducati Team’s Andrea Iannone sent the Italian fans at the Autodromo del Mugello into rapture as he claimed his first career MotoGP™ pole position in near perfect conditions, setting the fastest ever top speed recorded by a MotoGP™ bike in the process (350.8kph).

Iannone, riding with a fractured humerus sustained during a testing crash at the Tuscany Circuit, took advantage of the softer option tyre available to Ducati to set a 1’46.489, which was almost seven-tenths quicker than Dani Pedrosa’s pole record from 2013.

Countering that was the dramatic action involving the reigning MotoGP™ World Champion Marc Marquez, as he failed to make it through to Q2 for the first time in his career and will start Sunday’s race from the head of the fifth row in thirteenth.

Marquez struggled throughout the day, getting caught out in FP3 and finishing down in eleventh on the combined timesheets. It was only the second time the Spaniard has failed to automatically qualify for Q2, the first being at Mugello in 2013.

A crash in FP4 only compounded matters and as Marquez attempted to make it through from Q1 he set a time good enough for second on the timesheets with 2 minutes to go in the session. Thinking that the job was complete, it was then that disaster struck for him and his team. Yonny Hernandez on the Octo Pramac Racing Ducati displaced him in the final seconds, securing the Columbians progress through to Q2 at Marquez’ expense. This means that Marquez will have to start Sunday’s race from the front of the fourth row in 13th his worst ever MotoGP™ Qualifying performance.

Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo will be a force to be reckoned come Sunday’s race, as he demonstrated in incredibly persistent race pace throughout Free Practice. The double MotoGP™ World Champion was only 0.095s behind Dovizioso in Q2 and will start from second on the grid, a feat made all the more impressive as Lorenzo does not have the softer option tyre available to him.

Andrea Dovizioso followed up Iannone’s incredible pole lap by securing third on the grid, making it two Ducati GP15’s on the front row, and the team will be pushing hard for their first win since Stoner’s victory in Australia in 2010.

CWM LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow won the battle of the Satellite riders, as he once again impressed during Q2 to finish fourth fastest as the fastest Honda on the grid.

Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Aleix Espargaro was another rider who had to grit his teeth as he was suffering from the injury to his right thumb sustained during his Free Practice crash at Le Mans. The Spaniard sought medical advice before the day’s action, and it clearly paid off, as he will start the race from the middle of the front row.

To top off an almost perfect day for Ducati, their test rider Michele Pirro managed to set a time good enough for sixth in Q2, and will complete the second row for Sunday’s race, the best qualifying performance from a wild card rider since Ben Spies in 2008 at Indianapolis.

Dani Pedrosa on the second Factory Repsol Honda RC213V showed he is recovering from his arm pump surgery by setting the seventh fastest time. The Spaniard will start from the head of the third row, ahead of nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi.

Rossi once again could not perform as he wanted during qualifying, although he wont be too disappointed to start the race from eighth on the grid, as his last two victories have both been achieved when he started from that position.

Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Maverick Viñales will start the race from ninth on the grid, with Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Pol Espargaro & Bradley Smith in tenth and eleventh respectively.

Avintia Racing’s Hector Barbera was the leading Open class rider in fifteenth, with the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda of Scott Redding down in 17th.




The Gran Premio d’Italia TIM will see Britain’s Sam Lowes start from pole position in Moto2™ on his Italian built Speed Up bike.

Before the weekend the Mugello track record for Moto2™ stood at 1’52.369 from Pol Espargaro in 2012, this record would not last long however. Already in FP3 Tito Rabat dropped in the 1’51s to set a new best lap around Mugello. All of the top four riders on the grid would set laps in the 1’51s come Qualifying.

The Qualifying session got off to a difficult start for Britain’s Sam Lowes as he suffered a crash with half an hour left in the session. Luckily, neither he nor the bike sustained any major damage and after brief repairs by his Speed Up Racing team Lowes was back on track. The Austin race winner then set a stunning 1’51.514, a new pole position record and the fastest ever Moto2™ lap around the Mugello circuit. Mugello is also where Lowes took his first Moto2™ front row in 2014.

It was a welcome return to the front row for Dominique Aegerter who has struggled to score points in the opening five rounds. The Swiss rider was a front-runner on the Suter frame last year, but has swapped over to the Kalex chassis, and limited dry testing has made the transition difficult for him and the team. A breakthrough in rear grip gave Aegerter a large confidence boost and a helpful slipstream from teammate Luthi has Aegerter starting from the front row for the first time since Indianapolis last year.

Luthi himself was able to manage fourth on the grid. A private test before Le Mans has drastically improved Luthi’s understanding of the Kalex package. Throughout the weekend, Luthi has shown a steady pace and will no doubt be a rider in contention for the podium, if not the win come race day. The 2012 season saw Luthi finish third in the Moto2™ race at Mugello, having also had podiums here in the 250cc and 125cc class.

Completing the front row is Tito Rabat who continues to improve his season after a somewhat difficult start. Rabat was 0.360s off pole, but has been able to lap in the mid to low 1.57s throughout the weekend as he and the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS team once again focus primarily on race pace. Traffic during the session hindered several of Rabat’s laps, but the front row start puts him in a strong position to battle for the win on Sunday. Rabat’s last win came at Misano last year.

Championship leader Johann Zarco had a quiet Qualifying session, never posing a real threat to the front row. The Frenchman will start from sixth on the grid for the Italian GP; he heads into the race with a 21-point lead over Thomas Luthi.

Aside from Lowes, there were crashes for Axel Pons, Robin Mulhauser and Sandro Cortese. All riders were unhurt.

Interestingly, Lowes’ 1’51.514 is just 0.123s slower than Marco Melandri’s Qualifying time in the MotoGP™ class.




Britain’s Danny Kent claimed his second Moto3™ pole position of the year and his first ever-front row at Mugello in dominant fashion.

The Gran Premio d’Italia TIM has so far seen almost ideal track and ambient conditions, resulting in lap records being broken in all three classes. Before this weekend the Moto3™ lap record stood at 1’57.633, however this would not last. Already in FP3 Fabio Quartararo and Miguel Oliveira went under the record and a close fight for pole looked certain.

With the long straight at Mugello the slipstream out of the final corner is vital, as Fenati demonstrated last year when he used it to go from third to take victory in the Moto3™ race. The slipstream offers an advantage to many, but for the top riders it can be a hindrance as other riders lap slowly in an attempt to follow and improve their grid position.

Danny Kent did not require the aid of a slipstream to set his stunning lap of 1’56.615, the fastest ever Moto3™ lap around Mugello and the first sub 1’57 time. When he initially set this lap it put him 0.7s clear of Fenati, a large gap in any class but especially in Moto3™ where machines and riders are so closely matched. The Brit last claimed pole in Austin where he went on to take one of the most dominant Moto3™ victories to date, appearing untouchable for much of the race.

Despite the difference in time, Romano Fenati will no doubt be a threat come race day. The SKY Racing Team VR46 rider starts from the front row for just the second time in his career. Fenati, like many other Italian riders such as Enea Bastianini and Valentino Rossi, has proven himself capable of fighting through the field, starting third should give Fenati the boost he needs to stick with and battle Kent, providing the home fans with an exciting race.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of Qualifying was Kent’s teammate Hiroki Ono who qualified second, the only other rider into the 1’56s. Ono used the slipstream to perfection to claim his career first front row start, his previous best grid position being eighth which he achieved in Argentina earlier this year. Efren Vazquez, the third Leopard Racing rider, starts from 15th.

The Red Bull KTM Ajo team flew around the track in formation to try to maximise the benefit of the slipstream and it was Karel Hanika who benefitted the most from this. The Czech rider starts from fourth on tomorrow’s grid, his best ever Qualifying in Moto3™ and a drastic change in fortunes after having to start from pit lane in Le Mans. Teammates Miguel Oliveira and Brad Binder start in 11th and 12th respectively. Oliveira suffered from having his best lap time cancelled due to exceeding the track limits.

Enea Bastianini will be another to watch ahead of tomorrow’s race as the Italian starts from seventh on the grid. Last year saw him fighting for the podium before being caught up in an incident with Alex Marquez and Jack Miller that resulted in the trio crashing out.

2014’s Italian GP saw the top three in Moto3™ split by just 0.011 seconds, the closest grand prix podium of all time. Fans and riders can expect another close battle come Sunday at the fast and flowing Italian track.

Fabio Quartararo crashed while on his fastest lap and prematurely ended his Qualifying session, starting 13th tomorrow. The French rookie has been able to learn Mugello quickly and could be a podium threat if he can latch on to the leading group.



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