Photo by Gold & Goose
Marc Marquez claimed his 69th career pole today, and greeted the number with memories of Nicky Hayden. For tomorrow’s race, he would be thinking of Angel Nieto, he said second racing legend to die in a road accident this year.
If either wanted a fitting tribute, it was Marc’s full-bore attacking style in qualifying, run in blazing sunshine after a day with a number of crashes in all classes blamed on the over-heated tarmac.
Marc saved the first moment with his elbow, then did something similar a lap later, when he set a front-row time. It was a matter of getting used to the different references and braking points pushing to the maximum on new tyres, he explained.
Then he stopped for another new set, and went faster still, to consign his Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa to second, by less than two tenths.
The drama wasn’t over. Rossi was also on a scorcher, and he slotted the Movistar Yamaha in between the Hondas for his fourth front-row start of the year.
Times round the long (5.4-km) Brno circuit were close, with the top eight within the same second.
Yesterday’s leader Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) and team-mate Jorge Lorenzo were either side of the second row.
In between them, a brave Cal Crutchlow, riding the LCR Honda under medical sufferance. He’d incurred painful back injuries as innocent victim of a heavy crash in the morning (see separate News story), and while the Medical Director required a full scan before declaring him fit to race, there wasn’t time to do it before qualifying. He was taken to hospital in Brno after the session.
Should Crutchlow be ruled out, it would promote second Movistar Yamaha rider Maverick Vinales to the second row.
Next came two independent Ducatis, both through from Q1 – Danilo Petrucci on the Pramac GP17, and Alvaro Bautista on the Pull&Bear GP16.
Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha) was tenth; then session faller Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) and Loris Baz (Avintia Ducati).
Alex Rins (Ecstar Suzuki), Jonas Folger (Monster Yamaha) and Jack Miller (EG VDS Honda) took the next three places, missing the move through from Q1 by less than a tenth of a second.
A little slice of history in Moto2, where Mugello winner Mattia Pasini claimed his first pole – not just of the season, but for almost a decade. His last was in the 125 class, in Australia, in 2007. For the record, he finished seventh, in a pack of nine across the line in less than 1.5 seconds.
Last class to go out on an increasingly warm day, almost all the best times came early in the session. One exception was Miguel Oliveira on the Red Bull KTM, who closed to within three hundredths of a second at the end, pushing runaway points leader Franco Morbidelli (EG-VDS Kalex) to third.
Pecco Bagnaia’s late challenge was frustrated when he was baulked on his last lap, and the SKY VR46 Kalex rider ended up fourth, with fellow class rookie Jorge Navarro (Federal Oil Kalex) alongside, and double race winner Alex Marquez (EG-VDS Kalex) completing row two.
Morbidelli’s closest (if distant) title challenger Thomas Luthi (CarXpert Kalex) was 12th. Remy Gardner (Tech 3) was one of several crashers, languishing in 26th.
A surprise first-time pole in Moto3 was also the first for a rider not on a Honda. It went to Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA KTM), by 0.150 of a second from Romano Fenati (Rivacold Honda).
In general the KTMs were strong here, with Rodrigo’s team-mate J Guevara third, then three more KTMs behind fourth-fastest points leader Joan Mir (Leopard Honda).