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
How Ducati has drawn first blood in the 2022 MotoGP title race Prime

How Ducati has drawn first blood in the 2022 MotoGP title race

The 2021 MotoGP season may have only just ended but preparations for 2022 are well underway following a two-day test at Jerez this week. Ducati has hit the ground running while a lack of progress dominated Yamaha’s and world champion Fabio Quartararo’s test. While no battle lines have been drawn yet for 2022, it appears Ducati has already drawn first blood...

MotoGP
Nov 20, 2021
Why Suzuki's quest for a new MotoGP boss may be too late Prime

Why Suzuki's quest for a new MotoGP boss may be too late

Suzuki is on the search for a new team manager after its decision not to replace Davide Brivio at the start of 2021 was backed up by its unsuccessful bid to help Joan Mir defend his 2020 MotoGP world title. But whoever Shinichi Sahara appoints next, it may have already come too late to convince Mir to stick with the project

MotoGP
Nov 19, 2021
How Rossi got the perfect send-off to his MotoGP career Prime

How Rossi got the perfect send-off to his MotoGP career

The greatest chapter in MotoGP history came to a close at the Valencia Grand Prix as Valentino Rossi bid farewell after 26 seasons of grand prix racing. While his run to a strong 10th was a pleasing end to his time in MotoGP, it was what happened at the front of the grid that capped the Italian's ideal send-off

MotoGP
Nov 15, 2021
Why MotoGP's under-fire graduate has a point to prove Prime

Why MotoGP's under-fire graduate has a point to prove

OPINION: MotoGP-bound Darryn Binder was already under the microscope as his jump from Moto3 to join RNF's new top-class team was announced. But his crash with title hopeful Dennis Foggia caused significant consternation among the ranks - with many current riders suggesting the top level should be harder to break into as a result

MotoGP
Nov 9, 2021
How Portugal exposed the biggest threat to Quartararo Prime

How Portugal exposed the biggest threat to Quartararo

Fabio Quartararo’s first DNF of his title-winning 2021 MotoGP season couldn’t have come at a better time. But the events of the Yamaha rider’s Algarve Grand Prix exposed the M1’s well-known major weakness, which could threaten his championship defence given the increasingly Ducati-heavy makeup of the grid heading into 2022

MotoGP
Nov 8, 2021
What's really fuelling junior bike racing's dangerous aggression Prime

What's really fuelling junior bike racing's dangerous aggression

The pressure shouldered by young riders is at the root of the increased on-track aggression seen in lower categories of late, which motorcycling's governing bodies want to curb with new rules. But will stopping under-18s from racing in the world championship and capping grid sizes prevent the often desperate acts of youths pursuing their MotoGP dreams?

MotoGP
Nov 2, 2021
The three factors that crowned MotoGP's newest champion at Misano Prime

The three factors that crowned MotoGP's newest champion at Misano

The prospect of Fabio Quartararo clinching the 2021 MotoGP world championship title at Misano appeared small after struggling to 15th in qualifying, while main rival Francesco Bagnaia took pole. Here's how the Yamaha rider turned it around, with help from an ill-fated Bagnaia tyre choice, to secure the crown with two races to spare

MotoGP
Oct 25, 2021
Marco Simoncelli: Remembering MotoGP's ultimate maverick 10 years on Prime

Marco Simoncelli: Remembering MotoGP's ultimate maverick 10 years on

Saturday 23 October marks the 10th anniversary of Marco Simoncelli's death. The one-time 250cc world champion and double MotoGP podium finisher was the ultimate maverick character with big hair, a big personality and an even bigger talent. Motorsport.com pays tribute to a much-missed figure, a decade on.

MotoGP
Oct 23, 2021