Despite the twenty-eight degrees, the MotoGP qualifying session took its time to heat up and give us a show. The final two minutes were when the timing sheets lighted up like a Christmas tree and gave us a rather predictable poleman in championship leader Maverick Viñales.
Home favourite Valentino Rossi did not seem very disappointed while pulling a wheelie after qualifying second, two tenths behind his young teammate and picking up the fight where we left off in Le Mans. The front row was completed by Andrea Dovizioso, bringing Ducati a front row start at their beloved circuit.
The second row brings more joy to the Italian factory, with Michelle Pirro in fourth position, in front of the two factory Hondas of Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez, the world champion getting a little stuck behind Johann Zarco and only saving a sixth grid position.
Jorge Lorenzo had tried a two-stop strategy which did not prove particularly good or bad, the Spaniard qualifying seventh and sharing the third row of the grid with an excellent Alvaro Bautista. Danilo Petrucci started the session strong by topping the timesheets and challenging everyone who briefly dared to take over the lead. He looked to be on for a front row start before his best time was cancelled for exceeding track limits – still, ninth place after crashing both his bikes in the morning and getting through Q1 isn’t too bad.
After a tow à la Marc Marquez to assist him in his Q2 bid, Tito Rabat helped himself with a lap behind Dani Pedrosa to get an honourable tenth grid position. With the confidence of a man who had just topped FP4, Zarco only did one single run to get out of Q1 successfully and save a tyre for Q2. The plan didn’t work out great in the end, the Frenchmen stuck in the middle of the fourth row. Aleix Espargaro crashed early into the session and qualified twelfth.
Cal Crutchlow missed Q2 by less than a tenth of a second and will start the race from thirteenth grid position, on the fifth row.