Six factories in three tenths and Viñales on pole: the scene is set in Valencia
Spaniard leads a fantastic four split by just a tenth in Valencia
After a sensational final battle for pole in 2018, Q1 graduate Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) was the man to take P1 in Q2 at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana after setting a 1:31.312. This was enough to edge out second place Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) by 0.068 and third place Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) by 0.080 in a close top three, with the scene set for an awesome final fight of the year. Reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), meanwhile, crashed, dislocated his shoulder, then headed back out to claim a miraculous P5 and Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) starts way down in P16.
A piece of history was also made in Valencia GP Q2 as all six current manufacturers finished inside the top eight in qualifying – the first time it's ever happened.
It was seven-time Champion Marquez who led the field onto the first flying lap but then at Turn 4, the 2018 Champion suddenly lost the front and went down – seemingly dislocating his left shoulder in the process. Marquez headed straight back to the Repsol Honda motorhome, but soon after he headed back out...
Back on track it was Dovizioso who was setting the pace, but then Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing) got the better of his compatriot to set the first 1:31 of the session before blitzing the field again on his next lap – a 1:31.531 becoming the time to beat. Then with six minutes to go, a warrior emerged in the form of Marquez as he left pitlane and all eyes were on the seven-time Champion. Before the 93 crossed the line though, Viñales shot to the top to take provisional pole...
Red sectors were lighting up the screens in the final minutes of the session though and it was Viñales who went quicker again to make 0.068 his margin at the top, with the miraculous Marquez climbing back up to P3. The World Champion then had a moment at Turn 1 to end his session, but there was still time for change elsewhere as Rins was then threatening to take pole on his final lap. In the end, however, a breathless qualifying ended with Viñales spearheading the grid after his first pole on a Saturday since Aragon last year, with his Americas GP pole this season resulting from a Marquez penalty. Rins and 'DesmoDovi' complete the front row, and Petrucci is top Independent Team rider in fourth, gunning for that title on Sunday too. Marquez' miracle top-five performance sees him remain well in the mix, too.
Just behind the reigning Champion, sixth made it a great day for Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) with the Spaniard just 0.265 from pole in KTM’s equal best qualifying performance. He was just ahead of Q1 graduate Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) in P7, with Aleix Espargaro’s (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) P8 the final piece in the puzzle that saw all six manufacturers inside the top eight, split by just 0.318.
In his final ever qualifying, Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) claimed P9 to start from the outside of the third row after some difficulties in FP4 that affected his QP, with Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) suffering his fourth crash of the weekend to start P10 but automatically through to Q2 once again. While on a lap that was 0.3 under, Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) also crashed at Turn 10 to start P11 – rider ok, with Michele Pirro (Ducati Team) settling for P12 after making it straight into Q2 from Free Practice.
After failing to make it through Q1, Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) starts P16 after a tough day at the office. What can ‘The Doctor’ do from there in the final race of the season? If the race is anything like qualifying was, then we’re in for an absolute treat. Tune in for the season finale at 14:00 local time (GMT +1)!