2016 Misano Saturday Round Up: Fast Laps, the Definition of Legal, and the Return of Saturday Night Specials?

It is hard to overstate just how important pole position is at Misano. It is a tight and tortuous track, with few opportunities to pass. Small differences in practice and qualifying become magnified during the race: the holeshot is worth its weight in gold here. Get a gap, and you can be gone. The smallest winning margin at Misano was 1.578 seconds, which was the deficit of Jorge Lorenzo to Valentino Rossi in 2014. A second of that was lost on the final straight, however, as the Italian celebrated a significant victory with a monster wheelie.

It doesn't mean that races can't be exciting. The 2014 race saw an epic battle between Rossi and Marc Márquez, which lasted half the race until the Spaniard asked too much of his front tire and crashed out. Races can be hard-fought, but eventually, one rider will wear the rest down and open an unbridgeable gap. That is easier when the rider starts in front.

The first corner is another reason that pole matters at Misano. The hard right then left combination is notorious for pile ups, and the further back you are, the more likely you are to get caught up in the melee. A front row start is your best hope of making it through unmolested, though a second row start will do at a pinch. Any further back and unless you can secrete a small bottle of nitrous somewhere on the bike in search of a rocket-assisted start, carnage awaits.

2016 Misano MotoGP FP4 Result: Rapid Rossi Leads Spanish Brigade

With three front tyre options, of which two were new compounds, some of the riders were still to make a decision for the race as they took to the track for the final practice session. Valentino Rossi had a slow start but the shortage of soft tyres didn’t seem to bother him, the Italian taking over at the top in the final minutes with a medium front–hard rear combination, the fresh rubber placing him four tenths ahead of the field.

2016 Misano Moto2 FP3 Result: A Hat-Trick For Nakagami

Franco Morbidelli was on fire as the intermediate class took to the track, the Italian rider going straight to the top of the timesheets and keeping Johann Zarco in check, both metaphorically and literally, the Estrella Galicia rider following the world champion around the track. The duo were at the top until the very last lap, when the man who dominated Friday in Misano, Takaaki Nakagami, showed his hand and surpassed both by over a tenth of a second.

With Morbidelli second and Zarco third, fourth position went to Lorenzo Baldassarri, who improved on his last lap to trail the top three by less than a tenth. An early time kept Thomas Luthi within three tenths of the leader, with Jonas Folger and Alex Marquez another tenth back, the two separated by barely five thousands of a second.

2016 Misano MotoGP FP3 Result: Marquez Holds Off Lorenzo

The Saturday morning session started off light, teams working on race pace in the beginning, only a few riders here and there improving their Friday times early on, including Valentino Rossi, his pal Aleix Espargaro and teammate Maverick Viñales.

With eight minutes to go, the fight for a place in the top ten heated up as usual and the world championship leader was the first to put the fight talk on track and set a 1:32.4, the fastest time of the weekend so far. That meant Marc Marquez led both the session and the combined practice times.

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