Yamaha came into qualifying in Misano with great expectations after their display all throughout practice and Marc Marquez’s prediction for pole came to fruition when Maverick Viñales timed it to perfection to snatch his first pole position since the first race of the year. It looked like a hat-trick for the Japanese squad for a while but then Pol Espargaro popped up on the back of Fabio Quartararo on a hot lap and brought home his first front row start for KTM. It even looked like pole for a short while, but second will do, splitting the Yamahas on the first row. Quartararo started the session as favourite by posting the fastest time of the weekend on his first flying lap, despite one of the by-now-usual wobbles on board of his Yamaha. However, the Frenchman could not improve on his final run despite several red hot sectors and made do with third.
Teammate Franco Morbidelli continued to improve throughout the weekend and overcame a huge rear tyre slide on what looked like a pole lap to settle for fourth. Meanwhile, Marquez lost a couple of laps keen to ward off rivals from a tow but that didn’t stop him from attempting a classic two-stop strategy. The plan did not seem to work as well as normal, as the Spaniard got demoted from the front row and found himself once again behind Valentino Rossi for their final flying laps. Neither rider wanted to show the other around and once they decided to get a move on, they got in each other’s way up until the checkered flag. The cat and mouse game left Marquez with his worst, well, “worst”, qualifying of the season in fifth, while Rossi lost a place to Andrea Dovizioso, the Ducati finding some pace to climb to sixth.
Rossi opens row three, ahead of the miracle worker of Q1, Johann Zarco, who put both KTMs in Q2 and ahead of the top Suzuki. Alex Rins will be disappointed with ninth after a fairly decent showing on Saturday morning practice, while teammate Joan Mir impressed on his return from injury by getting through Q1 and qualifying 10th, only one place behind Rins. Takaaki Nakagami and Michele Pirro complete the fourth row, over a second slower than the poleman.
Having a glance back at Q1, there were quite a few unusual victims there, Cal Crutchlow banished to 14th grid spot, Jack Miller down in 16th and Danilo Petrucci with his worst qualifying of the year in 17th. The two Ducatis will be joined on row six by Jorge Lorenzo.