Ducati’s Jack Miller took MotoGP pole in San Marino GP from teammate Francesco Bagnaia and Gresini’s Enea Bastianini in mixed weather conditions.
For the first time since the 2018 Argentina GP, Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) will start a MotoGP race from pole position after coming out on top of a rain effected Q2 at the Gran Premio Gryfyn di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini. The Australian’s 1:31.899 was enough to beat teammate Francesco Bagnaia by 0.015s as the Italian faces a three-second grid penalty on Sunday, with Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP) making it a Ducati 1-2-3 in qualifying after finishing third.
Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) set the initial benchmark in the opening 15 minutes of qualifying before Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) set a 1:31.961 to go top. Having been threatening all afternoon, spots of rain started to fall with eight minutes to go, with Bezzecchi and Martin sitting inside the all-important top two.
With three and a half minutes to go, Luca Marini jumped ahead of Martin to make it a Mooney VR46 Racing Team 1-2 – and the Italian couldn’t have timed it any better. The rain had started to fall heavier as the riders all had to pull out of their final flying laps, meaning Bezzecchi and Marini were heading into Q2, seeing Martin miss out by 0.011s.
Tensions were high ahead of the 15-minute pole position fight, with most of the riders starting the session on wet Michelin tyres – all but Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing). And straight away the Portuguese rider was three seconds quicker than Bagnaia with the Italian on wet tyres, it was now clear the slick tyres were the correct choice.
Bagnaia, Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) – the top three in the World Championship – were some of the last to venture out on slicks. Meanwhile, Bezzecchi had gone fastest by half a second before Miller moved the goalposts, the Australian briefly sat 0.7s quicker than anyone before Oliveira cut the gap to 0.2s.
As expected, the times were tumbling lap by lap. Bezzecchi blitzed his way to provisional pole before Bastianini found a 1:33.812 to go quickest. Miller then split the Italians to slot into P2, 0.021s off Bastianini’s time, as red sector times littered to timing screens. Miller and Bastianini exchanged P1 again before Bagnaia took over top spot with a 1:32.413, as Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) decided it was his turn to lead the session. Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) gate-crashed the Ducati party to go second, 0.090s off Zarco, as Championship leader Quartararo found himself P7 with just over a minute to go.
That became P5 heading onto his final lap, but the Frenchman was half a second away from provisional pole. A 1:31.899 from Miller was the new time to beat but teammate Bagnaia was 0.083s under his time at the third split. Was it enough? Not quite. Pecco went into P2 with Bezzecchi going third, Marini made a late charge into the top six before Viñales jumped up to P5, but no one was able to better Miller on Saturday in Misano.
After finishing second, Bagnaia will launch from P5 for the San Marino GP after his mistake in FP1. That means Bastianini will start from the middle of the front row in P2, and fourth place Bezzecchi moves up a row to line up third. Viñales is the final rider to benefit from Pecco’s penalty, the Spaniard will be eying at least a podium from P4 with Bagnaia – crucially – starting ahead of his main title rivals in fifth. Zarco joins Viñales and Bagnaia on the second row in sixth.
Marini leads the third row ahead of the top two in the World Championship: Quartararo and Aleix Espargaro. It wasn’t the Q2 they would have been looking for, but it will make for very interesting viewing to see how the Yamaha and Aprilia stars progress on Sunday afternoon. Oliveira, Franco Morbidelli and Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) complete the top 12.
— MotoGP™🏁 (@MotoGP) September 3, 2022
[Note: The story is as per press release]