Valencia MotoGP: Morbidelli claims pole as Suzukis struggle

Petronas SRT’s Franco Morbidelli snatched MotoGP Valencia Grand Prix pole in tricky conditions, as championship leader Joan Mir could only manage 12th behind Fabio Quartararo, with Alex Rins 14th. 

Very light rain greeted the pole shootout contenders at the start of the session, with Maverick Vinales setting the early pace on his factory Yamaha with a 1m31.9s.

Quartararo came through Q1 and edged ahead of Vinales with a 1m31.889s, with the Petronas SRT rider improving to a 1m30.983s with just under 10 minutes to go.

The Frenchman, along with Rins, trails Mir by 37 points in the championship and clung onto a front row place for some time despite only having one fresh soft tyre at his disposal for Q2. 

KTM’s Brad Binder, who topped Q1, also only had one tyre to use for his pole attempt and took over top spot with seven minutes remaining with a 1m30.763s.

Tech3’s Miguel Oliveira had been fastest briefly, but was shuffled back to third when European GP poleman Pol Espargaro leaped up to second to create a potential KTM 1-2-3. 

But this wouldn’t last, with Vinales first to spoil KTM’s party with a 1m30.645s to take over top spot, before Jack Miller on the Pramac Ducati fired in a 1m30.287s.

Miller’s advantage at the top of the timesheets was substantial, but not enough to fend off a charging Morbidelli, the SRT rider guiding his Yamaha to a 1m30.191s to claim his second pole of 2020 by 0.096 seconds.

Takaaki Nakagami completed the front row on his LCR Honda, with Johann Zarco (Avintia) heading Pol Espargaro and Vinales.

Aleix Espargaro put his Aprilia seventh ahead of Pramac’s Franccesco Bagnaia and Binder, with Oliveira completing the top 10.

Quartararo shuffled back to 11th, but Mir was unable to punish his nearest title rivals after ending up 0.797s off the pace in 12th.

Spots of rain first appeared for the start of Q1, resulting in all but Valentino Rossi heading straight out on soft rubber to try and get a banker lap in.

KTM’s Binder and Quartararo occupied the two Q2 progression places after their first laps, with their following efforts of 1m30.810s and 1m30.959s that would ultimately secure them passage into the pole shootout.

The light rain returned for the latter stages, which spelled disaster for Rins who was unable to improve on his 1m31.594s, resigning him to 14th on the grid. 

To keep his title hopes alive, Rins needs to be in the podium places to have a hope of the permutations falling his way to delay Mir’s coronation.

Rins will start alongside LCR’s Cal Crutchlow and the Ducati of Danilo Petrucci, while Rossi (Yamaha) heads Andrea Dovizioso on the sister factory Ducati.

The grid was completed by Honda’s Stefan Bradl, Avintia’s Tito Rabat, Alex Marquez and Aprilia’s Lorenzo Savadori.

Honda’s Marquez suffered a huge highside in the opening stages of Q1 at Turn 11 and landed heavily on his backside – though still managed to return to the circuit on his second bike late on.

Q2 results:

Cla Rider Bike Time Gap
1 Italy Franco Morbidelli Yamaha 1'30.191  
2 Australia Jack Miller Ducati 1'30.287 0.096
3 Japan Takaaki Nakagami Honda 1'30.413 0.222
4 France Johann Zarco Ducati 1'30.520 0.329
5 Spain Pol Espargaro KTM 1'30.553 0.362
6 Spain Maverick Viñales Yamaha 1'30.645 0.454
7 Spain Aleix Espargaro Aprilia 1'30.657 0.466
8 Italy Francesco Bagnaia Ducati 1'30.671 0.480
9 South Africa Brad Binder KTM 1'30.737 0.546
10 Portugal Miguel Oliveira KTM 1'30.781 0.590
11 France Fabio Quartararo Yamaha 1'30.864 0.673
12 Spain Joan Mir Suzuki 1'30.988 0.797

Q1 results:

Cla Rider Bike Time Gap
1 South Africa Brad Binder KTM 1'30.810  
2 France Fabio Quartararo Yamaha 1'30.959 0.149
3 United Kingdom Cal Crutchlow Honda 1'31.159 0.349
4 Spain Alex Rins Suzuki 1'31.594 0.784
5 Italy Danilo Petrucci Ducati 1'31.601 0.791
6 Italy Valentino Rossi Yamaha 1'31.604 0.794
7 Italy Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 1'31.606 0.796
8 Germany Stefan Bradl Honda 1'31.831 1.021
9 Spain Tito Rabat Ducati 1'32.063 1.253
10 Spain Alex Marquez Honda 1'32.205 1.395
11 Italy Lorenzo Savadori Aprilia 1'32.237 1.427
shares
comments
Valencia MotoGP: Morbidelli tops FP3, Rins and Quartararo miss Q2

Previous article

Valencia MotoGP: Morbidelli tops FP3, Rins and Quartararo miss Q2

Next article

Mir can’t explain his dismal Valencia MotoGP qualifying

Mir can’t explain his dismal Valencia MotoGP qualifying
Load comments
Why Quartararo has evolved more than Yamaha in MotoGP Prime

Why Quartararo has evolved more than Yamaha in MotoGP

Fabio Quartararo has his first match point in the 2021 MotoGP title race this weekend at Misano. While the 2021 Yamaha is a much-improved bike to its inconsistent predecessor, its the rider himself who has shown the biggest evolution this season. Oriol Puigdemont delves into Quartararo's growth.

MotoGP
Oct 19, 2021
Why Marc Marquez has to reinvent himself as a MotoGP rider Prime

Why Marc Marquez has to reinvent himself as a MotoGP rider

Marc Marquez's romp to victory at the Grand Prix of the Americas led many to believe the 'old' pre-injury Honda rider was close to coming back to his full powers. However, the 'old' Marquez will probably never exist again and instead he'll have to adapt to his new reality to return to title-winning ways in 2022.

MotoGP
Oct 6, 2021
Why self-preservation was key to Marquez's COTA "dream" result Prime

Why self-preservation was key to Marquez's COTA "dream" result

Marc Marquez scorched to his seventh Circuit of the Americas victory in MotoGP last Sunday with a display reminiscent of his pre-injury form. However, his path to the win across the weekend was in keeping with the current reality of his physical limitations, with self-preservation on Saturday key to his Sunday success

MotoGP
Oct 4, 2021
How Ducati has developed MotoGP's most versatile bike Prime

How Ducati has developed MotoGP's most versatile bike

His third place at Misano made Enea Bastianini the fifth different Ducati-mounted rider to score a podium in 2021. Amid a season that has seen one rider amass the bulk of Yamaha and Honda's success, the Ducati's versatility makes for a potent weapon, but the contribution of a former leading light shouldn't be forgotten

MotoGP
Sep 23, 2021
The next steps in the rebuilding of a stalled MotoGP career Prime

The next steps in the rebuilding of a stalled MotoGP career

Maverick Vinales’ early debut with Aprilia has been one of the most interesting plots of the recent MotoGP rounds. The results may not look standout on paper, but a closer inspection reveals just how much progress Vinales has truly made in understanding a bike that has taken him well out of his “comfort zone”.

MotoGP
Sep 22, 2021
Why Misano was a pivotal race for MotoGP's present and future Prime

Why Misano was a pivotal race for MotoGP's present and future

On a day each of the podium trio could claim to be the star of the show, the San Marino GP will be remembered as a pivotal race in both MotoGP's present and future. While Fabio Quartararo demonstrated his world title credentials just behind Francesco Bagnaia's flawless victory charge, a new threat emerged from the shadows

MotoGP
Sep 20, 2021
How Ducati's Aragon MotoGP win harks to its past and its future Prime

How Ducati's Aragon MotoGP win harks to its past and its future

Duelling against Marc Marquez at the Aragon Grand Prix, Francesco Bagnaia came out on top to secure a long overdue MotoGP victory. As Marquez likened Bagnaia to a Ducati title contender of old, it appears the Italian rider could finally start to fight for wins on a more regular basis

MotoGP
Sep 13, 2021
Why Dovizioso is more of a temporary fix than a Yamaha gamble Prime

Why Dovizioso is more of a temporary fix than a Yamaha gamble

OPINION: The return of Andrea Dovizioso to the grid at Misano will be an interesting subplot to the remainder of the 2021 MotoGP season. But the circumstances that have led to the former Ducati rider ending his sabbatical point to his signing being one more of convenience than a long-term commitment

MotoGP
Sep 8, 2021