2019 Valencia MotoGP Qualifying Result: A Surprise For The Easily Surprised

Despite the modest temperatures, significant crowds gathered to watch the premier class duel for pole position and with all the Spaniards in contention, they ended up applauding a Frenchman. Fabio Quartararo topped his fourth session of the weekend with the first 1:29 laptime, this one coming with a shiny Tissot watch and bringing the pole position count for his rookie season to six.

Marc Marquez came within three hundredths of a second from challenging his young nemesis but the pain would've been somewhat sweetened by having just been handed the keys to yet another brand new BMW for his qualifying achievements this year. Although the world champion came closest to threatening pole, the one man who actually saw his name ahead of Quartararo was Jack Miller, the Pramac rider spending mere seconds at the front of the field before getting demoted to third and closing the front row of the grid.

Maverick Vinales was arguably the most consistently fast man in practice, together with Marquez and Quartararo but the Yamaha man did not manage to join the two on the front row and got demoted to fourth by only a tenth of a second. The Spaniard will be in familiar company, starting ahead of Franco Morbidelli and Andrea Dovizioso, the Ducati man steadily working his way into a second row start despite a modest showing in qualifying.

Joan Mir is making a habit of outshining teammate Alex Rins, the youngster showing the way to the elder on the third row, after Rins managed to escape the battles of Q1. Cal Crutchlow trails the Suzukis on row three, while Danilo Petrucci will look to support Ducati’s claim at the teams’ title from tenth place on the grid. The Italian will have to fend off Pol Espargaro, whose rodeo ride in Q1 earned him a well deserved Q2 spot and 11th on the grid – admirably on the hard rear tyre – and Valentino Rossi, whose practice heroics didn’t quite carry through to qualifying.

Johann Zarco will start his final audition for 2020 from fifth row, while Jorge Lorenzo starts his final race another row back. The one man missing from the action was Pecco Bagnaia, the Italian declared unfit after suffering a left wrist fracture in his unusual FP3 crash.


Pos. Num. Rider Bike Time Gap 1st Prev.
1 20 Fabio QUARTARARO Yamaha 1'29.978    
2 93 Marc MARQUEZ Honda 1'30.010 0.032 0.032
3 43 Jack MILLER Ducati 1'30.086 0.108 0.076
4 12 Maverick VIÑALES Yamaha 1'30.178 0.200 0.092
5 21 Franco MORBIDELLI Yamaha 1'30.449 0.471 0.271
6 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati 1'30.511 0.533 0.062
7 36 Joan MIR Suzuki 1'30.573 0.595 0.062
8 42 Alex RINS Suzuki 1'30.595 0.617 0.022
9 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW Honda 1'30.726 0.748 0.131
10 9 Danilo PETRUCCI Ducati 1'30.771 0.793 0.045
11 44 Pol ESPARGARO KTM 1'30.908 0.930 0.137
12 46 Valentino ROSSI Yamaha 1'30.954 0.976 0.046
    Q1 Results:        
Q2 42 Alex RINS Suzuki 1'30.538    
Q2 44 Pol ESPARGARO KTM 1'30.543 0.005 0.005
13 5 Johann ZARCO Honda 1'30.826 0.288 0.283
14 51 Michele PIRRO Ducati 1'30.949 0.411 0.123
15 41 Aleix ESPARGARO Aprilia 1'30.972 0.434 0.023
16 99 Jorge LORENZO Honda 1'31.295 0.757 0.323
17 82 Mika KALLIO KTM 1'31.383 0.845 0.088
18 53 Tito RABAT Ducati 1'31.507 0.969 0.124
19 27 Iker LECUONA KTM 1'31.658 1.120 0.151
20 29 Andrea IANNONE Aprilia 1'31.714 1.176 0.056
21 17 Karel ABRAHAM Ducati 1'31.815 1.277 0.101
22 55 Hafizh SYAHRIN KTM 1'31.839 1.301 0.024
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... out qualifying three guys first time on the bike. Impressive.

Not only is he not last, but Lecuona already brought the difference down to just 1,680 seonds from pole time! Now that is more than just riding around and getting used to the bike, its power, brakes and tyres..! And that on the satellite KTM.

I think this shows that the KTM Moto2 program is/was ideal as a preparation for the KTM MotoGP bike. Same type of chassis, same type of suspension, he already knows the feeling. From next year on with the Ajo team using the Kalex chassis and Öhlins suspension, the riders won't be as prepared for moving on to the KTM RC16. It's a good thing that in 2020 KTM will have four good young riders already, three coming off the KTM Moto2 bikes. Plus that sensational Pol Espargaro... Man that Q1 hot lap was brutal in its entirity! I suggest they simply switch off traction control from now on, because it was A) very fast and B) spectacular to watch!

Regarding Moto2: It would seem like a good idea to at least put WP suspension on those Ajo Kalexes next year. Or simply use the whole 2019 KTM bikes as they are now and just let the team finetune settings during the season. That path seems to work well enough for the Petronas Yamaha team.

The kids are coming. Quarty, Lecuona, Miller (still young, and fantastic of late) is top Duc. Mir has surged matching his teammate. Morbidelli may be in the shadow of Quarty, but any other year his 5th would be big talk.

Lecuona is on the pace, it just took FP1 to get there. On a Jr team KTM no less. Good stuff! Can't wait to see Binder match P.Espargaro soon, and another step forward for the Orange bike.

Something is about to come about at Ducati re riders. One of their 4 is going somewhere else, or Miller and Petrucci are swapping seats. Or both, with a move for fresh talent on one of their 4 bikes (those two back marker rides are just customers and a place holder for a new team). Or something?

The rumor mill is percolating in ways that don't seem just like idle conjecture. With so few options around outside of the HRC spot, it is hard to see what could be going on. Alex Marquez looks to have the Jorge seat. There are still a few Test/replacement spots that could get a current racer. The youngsters are pulling at things for the old guys.

I would love to see Jack in Red, and eager for Zarco to stay in MotoGP. It is difficult to watch Bagnaia, a more talented and stronger racer than A.Marquez, struggle around the rear pack on that Duc. I don't see Petrucci going anywhere but down and out from here (one brief mild perk up when he is faced w losing his seat aside). He looks a bit depressed. As dynamic and changing as many things are currently, patience is short re a few things. Ducati riders in particular. Two more Factory Suzukis or Yamahas rather than Avintia backmarker pay to play is another. One or two other rider situations too.

Anyone have any information for us?

Btw, 2020 WSBK looks like a good season is taking shape. Fun!