Rain before the Moto3 qualifying session in Brno meant the track was wet for the MotoGP riders as they went out for qualifying, but a halt in the rainfall meant the track was drying throughout both sessions.
In Q1, the track started out with already a dry line forming, and throughout the session the times scrolled downwards. Johann Zarco and Pol Espargaro moved through the Q2 for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing. It was the first time Zarco had participated in Q2 for the Austrian marque, and the first time this season two RC16s has featured in the pole positions shootout.
In Q2 the track dried sufficiently for several riders to try slick tyres with time for four laps. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) who made the most of the slicks. Despite rain in the final sector on his final lap, he was able to take pole by 2.524 seconds in a display of outstanding riding talent and technique. It would have been quite easy for Marquez to decide that, with a fifty-eight-point lead in the championship, it was not worth the risk to push for pole position, a risk that could have taken him out of this weekend’s Czech Grand Prix and the Austrian GP next weekend, if not more. But take the risk he did and he was rewarded justly for it.
Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) was a few seconds behind Marquez on the track, which was just far enough to mean that when he arrived in the final corner on his final lap, there was too much water for his slick tyre, and down he went. Nonetheless, his first lap on slicks was fast enough for second on the grid.
Johann Zarco made the most of his first Q2 appearance of 2019 to put his factory KTM on the back of the front row, the best qualifying position in KTM’s short MotoGP history. After the difficult season Zarco has had, and the war of words between Zarco and KTM away from the track this season, this result is precisely what was needed for both sides to repair their relationship.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) was one of only four riders to stay on wets after most had switched to slicks, one of the others being Zarco. It paid off for the Italian, who was able to improve in the final few minutes to, initially, go third. Miller’s second-place lap dropped Dovizioso to row two, but with Ducati’s holeshot device there should be a good chance for Dovizioso to try and control the race as he likes to tomorrow.
Another of the riders to stick with wets was Pol Espargaro who qualified fifth, whilst Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was unable to improve on dry tyres and wound up sixth.
Valentino Rossi’s final lap on the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP YZR-M1 put him seventh, which was a significant improvement for the Italian after his first run left him only eleventh. This was Rossi’s best qualifying since Le Mans when he was fifth. The Italian will be joined by compatriot Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) and Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP teammate, Maverick Vinales, on row three tomorrow.
Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) qualified tenth after he wasn’t able to make his slicks work. The Frenchman will be joined on row four by Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda CASTROL) and Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT).
Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU) was the fastest rider to not make Q2, and will be joined by Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) and Suzuki wildcard Sylvain Guintoli (Team Suzuki Ecstar) on row five.
Row six sees Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) line up alongside Jorge Lorenzo’s replacement at the Repsol Honda Team, Stefan Bradl, and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), whilst Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) heads up row seven from home favourite Karel Abraham (Reale Avintia Racing) and Hafizh Syahrin (Red Bull KTM Tech 3).
Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing) will start from twenty-second, whilst Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) will complete the grid in twenty-third.
Featured Image courtesy of Jesus Robledo Blanco/Box Repsol