Qualifying for the premier class got underway in unusual circumstances on Sunday morning, after Saturday’s action was halted by wind, and perhaps it came with a pinch of caution, given the impending race. Maverick Viñales was in a familiar position from the very start, the Spaniard setting camp at the top of the timesheets by a comfortable margin and followed it through with an anticlimactic second run that secured him pole position with a half second advantage.
Fabio Quartararo was unrivalled in Q1 after finally benefitting from some decent dry track time and made good use of that extra running to climb onto the front row of the grid in second position. Marc Marquez had a hard time keeping the impressive run of poles on the Island, getting held up on his first run and then ending the session with another save for the highlights reel - at 69 degrees through Doohan Corner. That left the world champion third, but in fairly familiar company on the front row.
Valentino Rossi struggled to get going in Q2 but his saving grace was the final flying lap that helped him start his 400th Grand Prix from fourth position. Compatriot Danilo Petrucci also found some late speed as the top Ducati in fifth, ahead of the Honda of Cal Crutchlow. Aleix Espargaro has seen more of Marc Marquez in this Q2 session than his own mother over these flyaways and the Aprilia man used the deluxe tow to open the third row of the grid. Teammate Andrea Iannone was equally inspired, chasing the tail of Quartararo to sneak out of Q1 and then using Viñales as a reference on his eight-place-worthy lap, completing an excellent morning for Aprilia. Home boy Jack Miller will be closing out row three in his special leathers and livery.
Andrea Dovizioso was nearly invisible throughout Q2 and could not do any better than 10th, sharing the fourth row with Franco Morbidelli and an even more disappointing performance from Alex Rins, whose qualifying woes continue for yet another race. The Spaniard will line up just ahead of teammate Joan Mir, who was unlucky not to get out of Q1 but was marginally faster than a fairly impressive Johann Zarco on row five.