Czech Grand Prix, Brno: Qualifying roundup – MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
Reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) will have the best seat in the house for the start of the second half of the season, taking a stunning pole position to just edge key title rival Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) in qualifying for the Czech GP. Equally close to the top duo is Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team), who led for the first part of the session before being deposed from provisional pole to P3.
Day 1’s fastest Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) followed up his Friday heroics with another good result in qualifying, gearing up for the Czech GP at the head of the second row in P4. Joining him on Row 2 are Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) and the second Ducati of Jorge Lorenzo. Despite an earlier fast lap being disallowed for the ‘Spartan’, he hit back quickly.
Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) took P7, and will be looking to move forward quickly to get in the battle with his key rivals for the Championship – with the weather another factor to consider for all those on the grid, as Sunday forecasts remain mixed.
Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing) and Alvaro Bautista (Pull&Bear Aspar Team) both put together solid laps in Q2 after having moved through from the first qualifying session. The Italian – as he was in Q1 – was just ahead, and the two line up in eighth and ninth respectively. Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), after a slightly more challenging weekend for the French rookie so far, completes the top ten.
Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) suffered a crash towards the end of Q2 to put paid to his final chances, ending the session in eleventh ahead of Loris Baz (Reale Avintia Racing), who lines up P12 after an impressive performance in FP3 to graduate straight to Q2.
Alex Rins (Team Suzuk Ecstar) just missed out on Q2 by 0.006 and lines up in P13, ahead of a tough result for Jonas Folger (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) after the German had been second fastest on Friday. Jack Miller (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) locks out the top fifteen.
Now all that remains is to race, with the lights going out for the tenth battle of the year at 14:00 (GMT +2).
Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) brought an almost ten year pole position drought to an end in qualifying at Brno, setting a fast lap early on and holding on at the top until the end – meaning he will start his 200th race from P1. Red Bull KTM Ajo rider Miguel Oliveira took a close second, with Championship leader Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) completing the front row.
Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) kept his impressive pace rolling in qualifying for P4, with fellow rookie Jorge Navarro (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) and FP3’s fastest Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) joining him on Row 2. The 2014 Moto3™ World Champion is returning from injuries sustained in the German GP.
Luca Marini (Forward Racing) had a good session for seventh, ahead of Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP) in P8 and Speed Up Racing’s Simone Corsi in ninth. 2016 Moto3™ World Champion Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) completed the top ten, bouncing back from a tough early season of injury problems and further surgery during the summer break.
Fabio Quartararo (Pons HP 40) had some solid pace in P11, ahead of Championship challenger Tom Lüthi (CarXpert Interwetten) as the number 12 took P12, leaving him work to do on Sunday.
Khairul Idham Pawi (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) impressed for thirteenth, outpacing veteran teammate Takaaki Nakagami, who lines up fifteenth. Axel Pons (RW Racing GP) split the two Idemitsu Honda Team Asia riders for P14.
The intermediate class get back on track to race at 12:20 (GMT +2) on Sunday.
There had never been a lightweight pole position for an Argentine rider before the Czech GP, but that’s now a stat from the past as Gabriel Rodrigo went from gravel to glory in the space of a lap. Following an early crash in the session, the Argentina rider managed to get back out on track with enough time to push for just a single lap – but he more than made it count, as the one-lap wonder in the final seconds of the session saw him take pole by a tenth and a half.
The man he deposed was Romano Fenati (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers), who was second fastest after having proved the pacesetter for much of qualifying, with second RBA BOE Racing rider Juanfran Guevara completing the front row after an emotional rollercoaster QP for the team with a definitively happy ending.
Championship leader Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) will be launching his hunt for the win from fourth on the second row, ahead of Saturday morning’s fastest Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46). Bo Bendsneyder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) is also set up well for Sunday, taking P6 to complete Row 2.
Marcos Ramirez (Platinum Bay Real Estate) built on his FP3 to qualify seventh, ahead of Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) and Livio Loi (Leopard Racing). Südmetall Schedl GP Racing’s Philipp Oettl completed the top ten.
It was an impressive performance from SIC Racing Team’s Ayumu Sasaki to take eleventh, with Niccolo Antonelli (Red Bull KTM Ajo), Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse), QP crasher Andrea Migno (Sky Racing Team VR46) and Nakarin Atiratphuvapat (Honda Team Asia) completing the fastest fifteen.
Two frontrunners who suffered in the session were title challenger Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0), whose best lap put him P17, and 2016 Brno winner John McPhee (British Talent Team), who faces a fight back from P19.
Now the stage is set, the curtains go up on Sunday at 11:00 (GMT +2).