The premier class qualifying session was a sunny spectacle bearing no resemblance to the deluge a couple hours back and the now familiar pairing of Fabio Quartararo and Marc Marquez made sure to treat the resilient audience to a tight battle for pole position. The Frenchman had the upper hand – but only just – after the first run and Marquez put a target on his back for the second outing. Quartararo went on to improve on his arch rival’s all time lap record and would have improved even further, had it not been for a tumble at turn six on his final flying lap. However, Marquez had already joined the service road after his own harmless fall at turn five just moments before, so the Petronas rider was free to secure his fourth pole position of his rookie season.
Maverick Viñales took advantage of Marquez’s mistake and snuck ahead to make it a Yamaha one-two, so the world champion had to settle for the final spot on the front row. While still firmly in the game for victory and in a good position to secure the championship, the Spaniard will rue his mistake as he was a quarter of a second up on Quartararo’s time when he reached unlucky turn five. Still, third place was probably better than he could have expected while hopping in the medical car yesterday morning.
Franco Morbidelli added to the Petronas squad’s joy with a fourth place, although a full half second off the front row men. After bossing Q1, Danilo Petrucci scored his best qualifying result in recent memory with fifth, with Jack Miller rounding out the second row of the grid. If Andrea Dovizioso plans to stop Marquez’s world domination, he will have to do that from row three, the Italian struggling to do any better than seventh. Joan Mir impresses in eighth, ahead of Valentino Rossi, who started his session in the gravel trap at turn five but recovered to ninth on his second machine.
Alex Rins had such a quiet session he almost turned invisible on route to tenth, sharing fourth row with the chirpy Espargaro brothers. Pol was just as impressive as usual on his return from injury and two tenths faster than brother Aleix. Cal Crutchlow was the big loser of Q1, missing out on the second qualifying session by one hundredth of a second.