AFP/ Misano Adriatico, Italy
Francesco Bagnaia claimed pole for the San Marino MotoGP with a new track record time during yesterday’s qualifying as the Italian aims for a second win in as many weeks.
Ducati rider Bagnaia, who won his first GP at Aragon last weekend, posted a blistering best time of one minute, 31.065 seconds at Misano, finishing 0.249sec ahead of teammate Jack Miller and 0.302sec in front of championship leader Fabio Quartararo. “I’m really happy, it’s always good to start in pole,” Bagnaia said to Sky Sport Italia.
“It’s since Aragon that I’ve been really comfortable with the bike, we’ve hardly touched anything since and everything’s working perfectly.”
It was a second straight pole position for Bagnaia as he aims to cut further Quartararo’s lead at the of the overall standings today. The 24-year-old trails Quartararo by 53 points and the French Yamaha rider will be surrounded by Ducatis on the grid.
As well as Bagnaia and Miller in the top two positions, Quartararo has Jorge Martin and Johann Zarco behind him in fourth and fifth in the grid. Six-time champion Marc Marquez starts in seventh after crashing out while in fourth place with four minutes remaining of Q2.
“There’s a lot of Ducatis around that one poor Yamaha,” joked Miller to Sky. “We’re in a good position, we’ve been strong all week.
“I’m looking forward to the race, there’s still a question mark about this Italian weather we’re getting here at the beach but I think in all conditions we’ve got a good rhythm, a good pace. The group feeling here is good.”
There were glorious conditions at Misano on Saturday after a wet Friday and there was a entertaining battle between Bagnaia and Quartararo, 22, who is aiming for his first MotoGP title. Bagnaia came out on top in the third practice session on Saturday morning before Quartararo was fastest in FP4.
And Quartararo was leading in Q2 until Bagnaia rocketed to his record time with less than two minutes remaining. Valentino Rossi continued his poor weekend on home turf after sliding off the track early in Q1, his second crash of the day in his penultimate visit to Misano before retiring at the end of the season. The motorcycling legend will start from 23rd in the grid on Sunday, not what the motorcycling legend’s 23,000 adoring fans at Misano would have wanted to see. However he was delighted at Bagnaia’s efforts on Saturday, prompting questions as to whether Rossi’s former protege was the man to claim the mantle of the seven-time MotoGP champion. “I think taking Vale’s mantle is impossible,” said Bagnaia to Sky.
“What he did is impossible to repeat, because of his charisma and the way he made people passionate about watching him.
“What I’d like to inherit from him is the ability to transmit passion for motorcycling.”
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