Quartararo nips Marquez for pole in Valencia

Fabio Quartararo races to pole
Fabio Quartararo races to pole

Fabio Quartararo scored his sixth MotoGP pole position of the season after edging world champion Marc Marquez, in qualifying for the 2019 Valencia finale.

The Petronas Yamaha SRT rider underlined his one lap pace by becoming the only rider to dip inside the 1:29s bracket to claim pole and his 13th front row start this year with a benchmark 1:29.978s at the checkered flag.

Marquez was just 0.032s back. It was that close!

“I’m very happy because I was able to get closer than I was expecting, I didn’t think I could be this close over one lap," said Marquez.

"With our race pace we’re not very far away, but Quartararo is very strong over one lap. Anyway, I’m happy to be on the front row and our first target is done. We’ll try to start well tomorrow and then see what happens. It will be a tough race as Viñales and Quartararo are very fast but I think we can manage it well."

The four-kilometer-long Valencia Circuit continued to produce some of the closest sessions of the year with less than 1.5 seconds regularly splitting the top 15. Even with conditions barely in the double figures in the morning, riders pushed hard to secure a top ten spot in FP

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]Jack Miller was left to settle for third with the Pramac Ducati rider the best from the Italian manufacturer, and only 0.108s from pole.

The performance marked the first front row start for the Queenslander since the British Grand Prix in August.

Maverick Vinales headed up the second row in fourth ahead of Franco Morbidelli, who endured a trip through the gravel trap at Turn 4 early in the session.

Factory Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso was sixth while Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) was seventh ahead of team-mate Alex Rins, who was forced to come through Q1.

LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow and Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci rounded out the top 10.

Can Marquez win at home on Sunday?
Can Marquez win at home on Sunday?

Given his performances in qualifying so far this season, it was no surprise to see Quartararo on provisional pole after the first run, but Miller was coming. The Australian was able to take over at the top as the riders headed back out, but it didn’t take too long for Quartararo to strike back. Provisionally fastest once again and Marquez taking over in second, there remained one more shot at it for most. Could the reigning Champion ruin the rookie party?

As the clock ticked down, many were still pushing but the timing screens remained resolutely free of red. Quartararo couldn’t better himself, and Marquez and Miller had no answer for the Frenchman. So a sixth pole of the season is the number 20’s sign off from rookie Saturdays, and he’ll be aiming, as ever, for a maiden win on Sunday. But Marquez will doubtless be keen to stand in his way as he homes in on 400 points, with Miller with his own high stakes as he aims to stop Quartararo taking the title of top Independent Team rider.

Quotes

Fabio Quartararo
“We’ve had a great day because apart from the pole position we were able to take a step forward in improving our pace for the race. We can make a strong start to the race, and I’ll do my best to finish tomorrow the way we finished today, even though there are some other guys who also have incredible pace. We’ll try and set three perfect laps at the beginning of the race, and after that, we’ll see what happens – but I expect to be fighting for the podium. The main goal still isn’t to win a race this year though; it’s to finish the race and the season in the best possible way."

Marc Marquez
“I’m very happy because I was able to get closer than I was expecting, I didn’t think I could be this close over one lap. With our race pace we’re not very far away, but Quartararo is very strong over one lap. Anyway, I’m happy to be on the front row and our first target is done. We’ll try to start well tomorrow and then see what happens. It will be a tough race as Viñales and Quartararo are very fast but I think we can manage it well."

Results: MotoGP Valencia Qualifying

Pos Rider Team Bike Time Gap
1 Fabio Quartararo Petronas Yamaha Yamaha 1m29.978s 0.000s
2 Marc Marquez Honda Honda 1m30.010s 0.032s
3 Jack Miller Pramac Ducati Ducati 1m30.086s 0.108s
4 Maverick Vinales Yamaha Yamaha 1m30.178s 0.200s
5 Franco Morbidelli Petronas Yamaha Yamaha 1m30.449s 0.471s
6 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati Ducati 1m30.511s 0.533s
7 Joan Mir Suzuki Suzuki 1m30.573s 0.595s
8 Alex Rins Suzuki Suzuki 1m30.595s 0.617s
9 Cal Crutchlow LCR Honda Honda 1m30.726s 0.748s
10 Danilo Petrucci Ducati Ducati 1m30.771s 0.793s
11 Pol Espargaro KTM KTM 1m30.908s 0.930s
12 Valentino Rossi Yamaha Yamaha 1m30.954s 0.976s
13 Johann Zarco LCR Honda Honda 1m30.826s Q1
14 Michele Pirro Ducati Ducati 1m30.949s Q1
15 Aleix Espargaro Aprilia Aprilia 1m30.972s Q1
16 Jorge Lorenzo Honda Honda 1m31.295s Q1
17 Mika Kallio KTM KTM 1m31.383s Q1
18 Tito Rabat Avintia Ducati Ducati 1m31.507s Q1
19 Iker Lecuona Tech3 KTM KTM 1m31.658s Q1
20 Andrea Iannone Aprilia Aprilia 1m31.714s Q1
21 Karel Abraham Avintia Ducati Ducati 1m31.815s Q1
22 Hafizh Syahrin Tech3 KTM KTM 1m31.839s Q1

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