Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales scored his first pole of 2018 MotoGP season in Valencia GP ahead of Suzuki’s Alex Rins and Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso but Honda’s Marc Marquez stole the show again.
After majority of wet running at Valencia in the 2018 season MotoGP season finale, the first part of the qualifying session ran under partly damp conditions but riders were able to use the dry weather tyres still to set their quickest lap times.
Multiple riders changed hands at the top in the early part of the session with Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales and Marc VDS Honda’s Franco Morbidelli having a go but it was Suzuki’s Andrea Iannone (1m31.382s) who took it eventually to make it into Q2.
Vinales (1m31.858s) in second made it through as well. It was a valiant effort from Ducati’s Jorge Lorenzo (1m31.900s) who ended up third – only 0.042s behind Vinales – upon his return and the final outing for the Italian manufacturer.
The Spaniard will start 13th in the Sunday’s race with LCR Honda’s Takaaki Nakagami (1m31.928s) doing well in 14th from Morbidelli (1m32.385s) and Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi (1m32.452s) – the latter not able to challenge for the top positions at all.
With Thomas Luthi (1m32.545s) in 15th, it was a good showing from Marc VDS Honda as Angel Nieto Ducati’s Karel Abraham (1m32.547s) managed to out-qualify Alvaro Bautista (1m32.568s) in the latter’s final MotoGP race in his career for now.
LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl (1m32.708s) was 18th with Tech 3 Yamaha’s Hafizh Syahrin (1m32.749s) in 19th from KTM’s Bradley Smith (1m33.011s), Avintia Racing Ducati’s Jordi Torres (1m34.427s) and Aprilia’s Scott Redding (1m35.171s).
It was a dramatic start to the second part of the session when Honda’s Marc Marquez crashed in Turn 4 and dislocated his left shoulder which has been ailing him for sometime especially after the Japanese GP when he injured it during the title celebrations.
He carefully rode back into the paddock and was taken straight into the motorhome to get it mended. He returned to the garage few minutes later and got on the second bike to take part in the qualifying session.
On the track, meanwhile, Pramac Racing Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci set the pace initially with Vinales then going quicker to take provisional pole. The Yamaha rider (1m31.312s) improved further to take his first pole of 2018 and his first since the 2017 Aragon GP.
Suzuki’s Alex Rins (1m31.380s) looked solid until the end but had to settle for second with the third place changing hands multiple times with Marquez taking it initially, only to be beaten by Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso (1m31.392s) in the end stages.
Marquez (1m31.442s) was pushed down to fifth after Petrucci (1m31.414s) slotted in fourth but the Spaniard’s heroic effort was once again hugely laudable by everyone after the early fall. KTM’s Pol Espargaro (1m31.577s) did well to be sixth.
Having topped Q1, Iannone (1m31.629s) found himself in seventh with Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro (1m31.630s) in eighth ahead of Honda’s Dani Pedrosa (1m32.140s), Pramac Racing Ducati’s Jack Miller (1m32.145s) and Tech 3 Yamaha’s Johann Zarco (1m32.179s).
Both Miller and Zarco looked good to set a quicker time than they did but a crash in the closing stages hampered their chances to be only 10th and 11th respectively. The Top 12 was then rounded by Ducati’s wildcard Michele Pirro (1m32.310s).