MotoGP: Vinales Takes Misano Pole From Espargaro, KTM

Cloudless skies meant high temperatures on the Rimini Riviera, and for the MotoGP riders that meant grip at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli was at a premium as they qualified for the thirteenth round of the 2019 World Championship.

Q1 saw four or five riders all battling for the top two positions to advance to Q2, but in the end it was Johann Zarco (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) who topped the session from Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar), the pair moving through to the pole position shootout.

Maverick Vinales celebrating his Pole for the San Marino GP 2019. Image courtesy of Yamaha Motor Racing Srl

The Q2 session was very tight, with four riders fighting for pole position: Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT), Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) and Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team). The Yamaha riders had been dominating the weekend, but Marquez had been fast, and remained in touch throughout free practice, although the Honda was proving difficult to manage – especially in the high speed right-handers in sector three.

Marquez was keen to ensure that no one was in his tow, as was Quartararo on his second run. Vinales and Marquez both did three runs, although Marquez’ middle run did not see a flying lap, as he boxed before he started one. This meant both riders were out of sync with most of the rest of the field. Vinales managed to find himself some free space in the final lap, whilst Quartararo was trying to shake Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Marquez was behind Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP).

After slowing on the first flying lap of his final run to try to escape the attentions of Pol Espargaro, Quartararo ran wide on the exit of turn eleven, and lost his lap as a result. Espargaro had remained in the Frenchman’s slipstream, though, and put the KTM on provisional pole position.

At the same time, Vinales in free air and Marquez behind Rossi were both on fast laps that would have displaced Espargaro. Vinales was able to finish his lap cleanly, and took provisional pole from Espargaro by almost three tenths with a stunning lap, making the most of the Yamaha’s strong front end and comfort in the middle of the corner in the second half of the lap.

Things proved more complicated for Marquez, who caught an off-the-pace Rossi early in the lap. The speed of the Honda put Marquez in the position to pass Rossi into turn eleven, but the Spaniard ran off the track and onto the green. The move from the #93 did not impress Rossi, who block-passed the World Championship leader in turn fourteen. There was no contact, but the temperature of their rivalry increased once more, and tomorrow could provide some interesting exchanges between the two.

Valentino Rossi durring Qualifying at the 2019 San Marino GP. Image courtesy of Yamaha Motor Racing Srl

With both Rossi and Marquez ruining each other’s final lap – although Rossi’s wasn’t especially fast in any case – meant pole position was handed to Vinales, his second in Misano in the last three years. The #12’s race pace looks strong, but he will need to start well, as dropping behind the powerful KTM of Espargaro could leave him vulnerable to those behind.

KTM’s best qualifying performance in their MotoGP history was nearly pole position, but nonetheless a second place in a dry qualifying was an impressive performance from Pol Espargaro, especially on a track where Yamaha have been so dominant this weekend.

Fabio Quartararo perhaps should have had pole position, but he was too concerned with those around him. It was a mistake from the Frenchman to not focus on himself, but not one that he is alone in making – even in this session most of the riders were cruising at some point to find themselves some track position. The qualifying was not a disaster, anyway, for the #20, as he will still line up on the front row, and on the inside for turn one which means he can avoid the pinch in turn two.

Franco Morbidelli was close to the front row but didn’t quite have the pace in the second half of the lap compared to his Yamaha stablemates. Fourth place for Morbidelli, though, gives him a good chance tomorrow.

It is rare to see Marc Marquez off the front row, but for just the second time this season it is what we will see tomorrow. His pace is theoretically enough to go with the Yamaha riders, but the effort he has to put in to achieve that is significantly more, it seems. There could be some interesting fights between him and Rossi, all of a stone’s throw from Tavullia, but it is likely that the pair won’t meet each other on track, and that it is the other M1 pilots who Marquez has to worry himself with.

Andrea Dovizioso at Misano 2019. Image courtesy of ducati

A sixth place start for Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) was a surprise, but it was achieved on his final lap of Q2. All Ducati riders have struggled this weekend, so for Dovizioso to salvage a second row start is something he will be disappointingly pleased with.

Missing out on the second row may well have cost Valentino Rossi a shot at the podium, and with a KTM and a Ducati in front of him there could be yet another frustrating afternoon in a home GP for The Doctor. A weekend that started out quite promisingly seems to be falling away from the Italian, who will start alongside Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) who should be expected to make progress from ninth and Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) on his return to racing.

Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU) will start tenth ahead of Johann Zarco, who qualified eighth but will start eleventh thanks to his grid penalty from Silverstone, and wildcard rider Michele Pirro (Ducati Team) who, aside from Dovizioso, has been the only Ducati with any real promise this weekend.

The fastest rider to miss out on Q2 was Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing), although he was close with his penultimate lap to moving through to the second session. The Italian will start his home race from thirteenth ahead of a struggling Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda CASTROL) and a frustrated Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) who join the reigning Moto2 World Champion on the fifth row.

Row five sees Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) line up ahead of Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team). The Ducati stablemates line up sixteenth and seventeenth respectively, ahead of the still-injured Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team) on row six, which highlights Ducati’s struggles in Misano this weekend, despite winning the San Marinese round last year.

On row seven, the Red Bull KTM Tech 3 duo of Miguel Oliveira and Hafizh Syahrin qualified ahead of Karel Abraham (Reale Avintia Racing); Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing) was the slowest rider in Q1 despite a strong weekend for the Spaniard, and will start twenty-second, ahead of only Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) who had to go to the medical centre after a FP4 crash and missed Q1 as a result.

Featured Image courtesy of Yamaha Motor Racing Srl

MotoGP: Marquez Leads the Charge to Misano

This weekend the MotoGP World Championship heads to the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli for round twelve of the 2019 season.

Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) arrives in Italy for the second time this year with the championship lead, one which grew dramatically in Britain at the last race courtesy of Fabio Quartararo’s (Petronas Yamaha SRT) crash which took Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) down as well. Marquez’ points lead now sits at seventy-eight over Dovizioso and, although Misano is not a circuit that has traditionally been a particularly strong one for Marquez in the premier class – only two wins, both in the sketchy conditions of 2015 and 2017 – it is difficult to see a sizeable shift in the championship momentum this weekend.

Andrea Dovizioso at the 2019 Misano Test. Image courtesy of Ducati

It was indeed Dovizioso who won last year in Misano, nearly three seconds ahead of Marquez who inherited second after Jorge Lorenzo crashed to begin the downward spiral that has been his last twelve months. Last year’s performance from Dovizioso was somewhat crushing, pulling away with superior tyre management and pace compared to his rivals. In the test two weeks ago, though, Dovizioso complained of a poor feeling with the Desmosedici and, although the grip in Misano is famously inconsistent and unpredictable, that could put the #04 further on the back foot for this weekend.

Misano is an interesting track, since, although it is not necessarily a favourite for any of the riders, it has a reasonable amount of variety, with the direction changes and slow, short-radius corners being contrasted by those three fast right-handers in the third sector. There are no excessively long corners, none in which the rider spends a lot of time on the side of the tyre, but despite this there is a strong history for Yamaha in Misano, perhaps due to the M1’s comfort and ease with which a MotoGP rider can find lap time out of it, which in a small circuit like Misano can be useful – when corners are coming up every other second, it can be positive to have a bike which is easy to control.

Similarly, it can be good to have a bike which turns well, and the Yamaha, Suzuki and Honda – at least in the hands of Marquez – all do this. The Yamaha and Suzuki are comfortable on the edge of the tyre, as is Marquez on the Honda, but what Marquez can do better than anyone else is spin the bike around, pivot almost around the front tyre using the rear tyre to steer, and with Misano’s short corners, this technique can be especially valuable. This seems to rule out Ducati, but thanks to the numerous hard accelerations in Misano, and accompanying hard braking zones, the Desmosedici comes back into the picture with its strong braking stability and torque. Perhaps the Desmosecidi represents the perfect compromise for the MWC, since it is relatively easy to ride, certainly more so than the RC213V, but has the torque, power, aerodynamics and braking stability to mean it can maintain a strong pace throughout a race distance and also be incredibly tough to pass successfully, as Marquez discovered last year in his battle with now-teammate at Repsol Honda Jorge Lorenzo.

As previously mentioned, the grip in Misano is unpredictable, due to a variety of factors that no one can quite agree upon. The constant, though, is that the grip in Misano is always quite low. This plays against the Suzuki and Yamaha riders, since they need grip to use their corner speed advantage. All four Yamaha riders were inside the top five in the test two weeks ago, with Quartararo on top from Petronas Yamaha SRT teammate Franco Morbidelli; whilst the two factory Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP riders, Maverick Vinales and Valentino Rossi, were fourth and fifth respectively behind Marquez in third. Additionally, Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was ninth on the combined times on his return to MotoGP action, whilst Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was fifteenth, albeit only one second off the pace. Although Vinales’ tones after the test were quite negative, all six inline-four bikes looked quite competitive in the test, but we will only find out whether that will translate to the race weekend on Friday, when we can judge the grip levels.

Jorge Lorenzo at the 2019 British MotoGP event. Image courtesy of Jaime Olivares/Box Repsol

Jorge Lorenzo missed almost all of the Misano test, as the Silverstone race had taken too much from his physical condition. The Spaniard is racing though this weekend, and will be looking once more to find his first top ten since his Austrian GP win last year.

Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) is not a guaranteed starter this weekend, as the Portuguese rider suffered some shoulder problems after Johann Zarco collided with him in Silverstone. The #88, like Lorenzo, did very little at the test, Oliveira’s ability to race being a doubt heading into the San Marinese GP weekend.

Featured image courtesy of Jaime Olivares/Box Repsol

MotoGP: Rins Beats Marquez in Classic Silverstone Duel

The twelfth round of the 2019 MotoGP World Championship took place in a strangely warm Silverstone, as Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) took a dramatic victory.

Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) took the holeshot from his 60th MotoGP pole position in his 120th premier class start. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and Alex Rins were behind the championship leader.

Rins lost the rear of his GSX-RR on the exit of the first corner, and Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) rolled the throttle in reaction. The Frenchman’s response caused him to lose the rear of his YZR-M1, and it flicked him. It was unfortunate for the #20, who had been fast all weekend and looked to be a guaranteed factor in the podium fight. However, instead of a trophy, Quartararo left Silverstone with a concussion.

Things were slightly worse for Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), who was right behind Quartararo when he went down. The Italian had nowhere to go, so hit the Petronas Yamaha and went down, his Desmosedici GP20 bursting into flames as it hurtled towards the barriers. Dovizioso himself had to be carried away on a stretcher which, somehow, was able to be done by the marshals before the rest of the pack completed the first lap, and thus there was no need for a red flag. Dovizioso was carried behind the barriers, where he was able to stand up. The #04 displayed signs of memory loss, and so had to be taken to hospital, where it was confirmed that he had no significant injury.

Back to the British GP and Marquez was leading from Rossi, who was coming under pressure from Rins. That did not last long, though, as the Spaniard passed Rossi for third into turn eight on lap two with an impressive out-braking manoeuvre, taking yards out of Rossi into the Vale chicane. It was here that Rossi’s prospective struggles became apparent, immediately dropping off the back of Rins, out of the lead fight, and further into the clutches of fourth-placed teammate Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP).

Vinales was eventually able to pass Rossi on lap seven in turn seven. But by this point he was over two seconds back of his two leading compatriots and with a lot of work to do. The bigger problem for Vinales’ victory hopes than his gap to the front was his lack of superior pace to the leading pair, who were able to keep the gap to him relatively stable throughout the majority of the remaining thirteen laps.

That meant it was a duel between Marquez and Rins. As in Austria, Marquez led for the majority of the race, showing Rins the way, showing Rins his rear tyre; where he was strong, where he was weak. Marquez knew this, and around the mid-point of the race slowed to allow Rins through. The #42, though, saw Marquez’ tactics, and the threat they posed, so allowed the #93 back through six corners after he took the lead. Rins was entirely uninterested in showing Marquez anything, knowing that the seven-times World Champion is always capable of finding more time than you expect, especially with a target to aim at.

Marc Marquez dueling with Alex Rins for the most part of the 2019 Silverstone MotoGP Race.Image courtesy of Jaime Olivares/Box Repsol

Rins followed Marquez from lap two until the penultimate lap, when he made a move at Aintree, which was a surprise. The Suzuki rider had been especially strong on corner entry, in the last part of the braking, so to pass in a corner with no braking zone was strange. But Marquez fought straight back, reclaiming the lead into the next corner at Brooklands.

At this point, Rins saw he had one chance left. This was strange for a penultimate lap, but Rins thought it was the final lap; he tried to ride round the outside of Marquez in Woodcote. Whilst Rins led, officially, onto the final lap, Marquez had – rightly – forced him out onto the run-off area on the outside of Woodcote. Unlike in 2014, at Brno, when Rins thought the penultimate lap was the final lap, the Spaniard did not completely roll out of the throttle on this occasion, and was able to re-engage before the first corner of the final lap. But he was never able to get close enough to make a move on the brakes.

Marquez defended very well, taking excessively tight lines and blocking the path of the flowing Suzuki, meaning Rins was not able to try to pass before the final section. He knew he had to try to out-drive Marquez and the Honda through the final corner, and when Marquez had a slide in the middle of it, he sensed his opportunity, cut to the inside and took the victory on the line by 0.013 seconds, the second MotoGP win of his career in another battle with one of the greatest of the sport’s history.

Second place for Marquez represented another final corner defeat to a rider with superior rear grip on the right side of the tyre. It also represented a twenty-point increase in his championship advantage thanks to Dovizioso’s retirement from the race, an advantage which now sits at 78 points, and an extension of his top two finishing record which stretches back to Austria 2018.

Maverick Vinales’ third place was a welcome return to the podium for the Spaniard having missed it since the summer break. The #12 was close to his compatriots at the end courtesy of them fighting in the penultimate lap and Marquez’ protective lines. In reality Vinales’ only shot at victory was an overly ambitious move from one of the front two. Perhaps to be only in a somewhat detached third place was disappointing for Yamaha, having looked like they could be with three bikes on the podium through the weekend.

Maverick Vinales ahead of Valentino Rossi at the 2019 Silverstone MotoGP race. Image courtesy of Yamaha Motor Racing Srl

Fourth place for Valentino Rossi was determined from the start, where he missed performance from the rear tyre and was unable to match the speed of the Spanish trio who finished ahead of him. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda CASTROL) and Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) were eight seconds back of Rossi and split by Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team), the ex-teammates also suffering with rear tyre problems in the race which saw them lapping over one second slower than they had in practice.

Between Rossi in fourth and Crutchlow in sixth was Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) who equalled his best finish of the season with fifth, completing a strong weekend in a good way, albeit thirteen seconds adrift of the win.

Behind Miller in eighth were Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) who completed the top ten, good results for both factories.

Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) saw his race weekend go sour in qualifying, where he lost grip. The Italian was unable to rediscover the grip lost on Saturday afternoon and ended up fifteen seconds adrift of the top ten in eleventh place, five seconds ahead of Joan Mir’s replacement at Team Suzuki Ecstar, Sylvain Guintoli. Hafizh Syahrin (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) was thirteenth ahead of the returning Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team) and Karel Abaham (Reale Avintia Racing) who completed.

Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing) suffered a crash, but got back on to finish sixteenth ahead of fellow crasher Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU) who also got back on for seventeenth, and was the final classified rider.

After Quartararo and Dovizioso were out on the first lap, Johann Zarco (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) collided on lap nine, for which Zarco received a three-place grid penalty for the next round in Misano. The final retirement was Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) on the last lap.

MotoGP: A New Surface Means New Opportunities

This weekend the 2019 MotoGP World Championship crosses the English Channel and heads to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix – round twelve of the season.

For the first time since he took the championship lead in Jerez, Marc Marquez’ (Repsol Honda Team) points advantage was trimmed in the last round, as Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) defeated him in another one of the pair’s classic last-lap duels. Whilst Dovizioso knows he needs a dose of bad luck on the side of Marquez for him to challenge the Spaniard for this year’s title (the gap is fifty-eight points with eight rounds to go) he arrives in Silverstone with his confidence re-discovered after some negative races in Italy, Catalunya, the Netherlands, Germany and the Czech Republic. Austria was an important moment for Dovizioso, because he reminded himself that he can beat Marquez in the right circumstances – he just needs those circumstances to be more frequently occurring.

Both Dovizioso and Marquez have one premier class win in Silverstone, Marquez’ coming in 2014 in a classic duel with Jorge Lorenzo – round two of their ‘Battle of Britain’ – and Dovizioso’s arriving in 2017, when he beat both factory Yamaha riders and benefited from a rare expiration on the #93 Honda.

In the past, Silverstone’s uneven surface has disturbed the Honda almost uncontrollably, the RC213V’s aggressive and unstable nature not suiting the bumpy British asphalt. However, this year the bumps are reportedly gone after the circuit was resurfaced earlier in the year. The Formula One race was the first to take place on the new asphalt, and the reports were generally good. The one negative place was the entry to Brooklands, although this area was known to the circuit beforehand and has been rectified since. Of course, the main reason for the second resurfacing in just over one calendar year was the non-existent drainage on the previous surface which caused the cancellation of last year’s British MotoGP. It seems this, too, has been rectified with the new surface.

Rubber Ducks at the 2018 MotoGP British GP. Silverstone 2018. Image courtesy of Suzuki Racing

A smoother asphalt should suit Marquez and his Honda, with the Spaniard able to explore the areas beyond the limits of the 2019 RC213V with less risk than in the past, where a hole could tear the bike from his grasp whilst over the aforementioned limit.

This is worrying for his opposition, although for several of Marquez’ rivals the smoother surface for this year could in fact be even more beneficial.

Suzuki and Yamaha live on the edge of the tyre, especially Yamaha. Their (relatively) easy-to-use frames meant they were more comfortable than other bikes over the bumps, but the removal of those means they can greater exploit their mid-corner speed advantage which, at a circuit as fast as Silverstone which has many long corners, can potentially be a greater advantage than the one they perhaps held previously on the older surfaces.

Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) also has one win in Silverstone, coming in 2014 in the Moto3 class. He also finished second in 2013 to Luis Salom and second in the 2015 Moto2 race to Johann Zarco. In 2017, Rins finished ninth in the MotoGP, an impressive top ten from what was a rookie enduring a tough season blighted by injury. Last year the weekend was more complicated for the #42, however, finishing eighteenth in the combined free practice times. Still without a podium since Jerez, Rins will be hoping to return to the box this weekend, and continue to close the gap on Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) in the battle for third in the championship.

Both Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP riders, Maverick Vinales and Valentino Rossi, will also be hoping to make the best of the new surface, with the pair hoping the new grip offered by the juvenile asphalt will work well for their M1s.

For Rossi, a podium this weekend would be his fifth in Silverstone and, discounting last year’s cancellation, his fifth in succession. When the British GP was held in Donington Park, Rossi won seven times, but its transfer to Silverstone in 2010 presented problems for Rossi, who always felt behind the eight-ball when arriving in Northamptonshire due to missing the 2010 GP through injury and spending the next two years on the Desmosedici. However, with four podiums in the last four British GPs it is perhaps fair to say that the Italian should be in with a decent shot of the top three this weekend.

Whilst Rossi’s recent history in Silverstone is good, Vinales’ is – below the surface – quite particularly good. A dominant win in 2016 on the Suzuki showed Vinales’ potential around the British track and, in the following two years with Yamaha, he showed a strong pace. He finished second to Dovizioso in 2017, beaten by the Ducati’s power, and last year his pace pointed towards a podium challenge for what was then the #25 M1. The Spaniard was unable to pass his teammate two weeks ago in Austria, and before that in the Czech Republic a difficult start off the wet half of the grid caused him difficulties. However, with the short run to the first corner in Silverstone, a good qualifying and an okay start could see the #12 M1 in the fight.

Outside of the factory Yamaha team, Petronas Yamaha SRT’s Fabio Quartararo will surely be in the fight, too. The Frenchman has never stood on the podium in Britain, but showed strongly last year in free practice for the Moto2 class. Regardless of previous form in Silverstone, Quartararo arrives in Britain this year having the time of his life, riding better than he ever has and is off the back of an unlikely podium in Austria which took his podium tally for 2019 above that of Rossi. Although he misses speed, there is a chance this weekend for Quartararo to take his first MotoGP win.

At Suzuki, this weekend there will be no Joan Mir, who is replaced at Team Suzuki Ecstar by test rider Sylvain Guintoli as the Spaniard continues to recover from injuries sustained in his Brno testing crash.

Elsewhere, Jorge Lorenzo is back in the Repsol Honda Team, and is another rider who could benefit strongly from the smooth surface, although his fitness is of course questionable after nearly two months off the bike and now almost one year of being constantly injured. Lorenzo is of course without a top ten in over one year, so breaking that particular duck will be probably fairly high on the #99’s list.

MotoGP: Dovizioso Defies Marquez in Austrian Thriller – Part one

The eleventh round of the 2019 MotoGP World Championship, the Austrian Grand Prix, took place at the Red Bull Ring, as Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) won a classic duel with Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), a battle which will surely be remembered as one of the greats.

Despite consensus that Yamaha would have a tough time in the race, it was Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) who took the early lead. Dovizioso had made the holeshot, but Marquez block-passed him in turn three on the opening lap, and this allowed Quartararo into the lead.

The Frenchman led for the first laps, but eventually Dovizioso and then Marquez found their way through, the speed of the satellite YZR-M1 offering little resistance against the factory Desmosedici of Dovizioso or the factory RC213V of Marquez.

When Dovizioso went to the front, the front group was of five riders, but with a crash out from fourth place for Jack Miller (Pramac Racing), who had been dropping off slightly and into the clutches of Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), in turn nine on lap eight created a gap behind Quartararo who had slipped to third, whilst Marquez had taken the lead from Dovizioso.

With Marquez in front, he and Dovizioso started to move clear of Quartararo and Rossi behind. In this phase of the race, Quartararo was clever, clinging on to the two riders in front, taking their slipstream and their target, and using those to help pull himself clear of Rossi behind. Ultimately, Quartararo did not have the pace to go with Marquez or Dovizioso – which was expected, such is the speed deficit of the Yamaha – but the laps immediately after he lost the lead were important for his final result.

Marc Marquez leading the 2019 Red Bull Ring MotoGP race. Image courtesy of Jaime Olivares/Box Respol

Ominously, for the next ten laps, Marquez led. He had a similar margin to that which he had in Brno one week before. On that occasion, he was able to break away in the latter stages of the race with superior pace, but this time it was not to be. Dovizioso came back through on lap nineteen, and began his own stint in front which, amusingly, started with him dropping the pace by one second from 1’24.5 to 1’25.5.

It seemed, though, that the assumption of the lead by Dovizioso was partly the doing of Marquez, who appeared to roll the throttle on the front straight, which allowed Dovizioso to go into turn one first on lap nineteen. Marquez couldn’t break Dovizioso, so now he needed to study his rival.

Studying was over with three laps to go, as the Spaniard made his move and went back to the front. Marquez was keen to avoid the situation of 2017 and 2018 in Austria, when he lost out on both occasions to Ducati riders on the final lap. Going early was a chance for the Spaniard to avoid a last-lap fight.

But Dovizioso hung on. The Italian tried to respond in turn nine, two corners after Marquez hit the front, but ran wide. Once more, he tried in turn one, but ran wide. Dovizioso knew he couldn’t let Marquez make a rhythm in the final laps, and he was trying everything to disturb that.

Andrea Dovizioso ahead of Marc Marquez at the 2019 Red Bull Ring MotoGP Race

The #04 was able to stick with the #93 on the penultimate lap, and a strong run out of the final corner for the penultimate time allowed the Italian another opportunity in the first corner. Once again, though, he ran wide and Marquez carved his way back underneath on the exit.

After turn four, overtaking in the Red Bull Ring is difficult, as there are no herd braking points between the fourth turn and the tenth, so Dovizioso knew he needed to make a pass stick in either turn three or turn four. Marquez was strong on the brakes in turn three, and fast in the middle too, meaning Dovizioso was unable to make a move these places. It seemed that the Italian was out of chances, but he had been strong in the final sector throughout the race.

As he had been able to do for the whole race, Dovizioso got a better drive than Marquez through turn eight – just as Jorge Lorenzo had done the year before in his fight against Marquez – and was deep on the brakes in turn nine; he carried good speed through the penultimate corner, before making a lunge on Marquez in the final turn, a role reversal of the 2017 edition. Unlike Marquez two years before, Dovizioso was able to turn the bike at the apex, block his rival’s line on the exit, and power to the line. Ducati’s 100% record in Austria remained in tact, courtesy of some fine riding by Dovizioso, arguably the best race of his career.

Andrea Dovizioso winner of the 2019 Red Bull Ring MotoGP race. Image courtesy of Ducati

Marquez, then, remains winless in Austria, the only race on the calendar to elude him. The mistake which cost him was made before the race, as the Spaniard chose the medium rear instead of the soft, as chosen by Dovizioso. The medium simply didn’t give Marquez the grip he needed, especially on the more critical right-hand side (Austria has seven rights compared to only three lefts). This is why Dovizioso was able to drive so much better through turn eight, brake so much deeper in turn nine, and accelerate so much better from turn ten. Missing out on an Austrian GP win will have frustrated Marquez, but only until he checked the standings and reminded himself that his championship advantage remains at fifty-eight points.

Featured image courtesy of Ducati

 

MotoGP: Marquez’ Systematic Demolition Continues with Austria Pole

In Austria, the qualifying session for the eleventh round of the 2019 MotoGP World Championship took place on a particularly warm Red Bull Ring.

In Q1, it was Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda CASTROL) who topped the session from Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing), with the two moving through to Q2.

Q2 saw another demolition of the field from Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team). Since the middle of last year when Ducati started to beat him with horsepower and acceleration, Marquez’ mission has been to defeat the Bologna bikes. Not only has Marquez strolled away with this year’s championship, but he has also defeated Ducati in two of their best circuits: Le Mans and Brno; and beaten Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) in Mugello.

Marc Marquez Pole-sitter for the 2019 Red Bull Ring MotoGP. Image courtesy of Jaime Olivares/Box Repsol

Austria is pure Ducati territory – or it has been – the gains made in engine power for this year by Honda have levelled that particular playing field and in Q2 Marquez was able to take advantage and make pole position by 0.434 seconds, a colossal margin by any standard in a regular, dry qualifying session. To beat the Ducati by 0.488 seconds over one lap when the Desmosedici has been so dominant in Austria is quite incredible. To take the record for premier class pole positions (fifty-nine now for Marquez) away from Mick Doohan at the same time is simply brilliant (coincidental) timing on the part of Marquez. He will be tough to beat in the race.

Yamaha had looked stronger than expected all weekend, and three of their four bikes were in Q2. Fabio Quartararo’s last lap on the Petronas Yamaha SRT satellite M1 was enough for second on the grid, in front of Dovizioso who will be demoralised with a distant third on the factory Desmosedici.

Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) made his first run on a medium rear tyre, and was quite fast. He was able to improve on his second run and held a position on the front row for a while. Quartararo ended the Spaniard’s hopes of starting from third, but a fourth-place start gives Vinales an opportunity tomorrow. Like Quartararo, though, he will face the problem of faster motorcycles, which around a circuit like Austria are almost impossible to defend against.

One such faster motorcycle is that of Francesco Bagnaia who made a career-best qualifying with fifth place on the GP18 Ducati, ahead of fellow satellite rider Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU), also making a career-best qualifying in sixth on last year’s RC213V.

Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) will start seventh after an anonymous session for the Spaniard. A distracted Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) will start from eighth, alongside Rins, and will be hoping to put in a performance that convinces Ducati to let him stay in favour of Jorge Lorenzo in the satellite Ducati outfit. Cal Crutchlow completes the third row in ninth, his best lap coming on the medium tyre in his second run.

Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) made the same decision as his teammate, Vinales, to start Q2 with a medium rear. Again, he was quite fast, but with the soft in the second run he was not able to improve enough, and could only manage tenth after Nakagami’s late lap. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team), who crashed late on in Q2, will line up alongside Rossi on row three.

Q1 was a tough battle. Whilst it was Bagnaia and Crutchlow who moved through to the second session, Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3), Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) and Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing) all had realistic shots at making it through. In the end, Oliveira, Morbidelli and Rabat missed out, qualifying thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth respectively.

Johann Zarco (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) went from the highs of KTM’s first front row in Brno one week ago to sixteenth place at their home race in Spielberg. Joining the double Moto2 World Champion on the sixth row will be Karel Abraham (Reale Avintia Racing) and Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini). The second Aprilia Racing Team Gresini machine of Aleix Espargaro will head up the last row, from Hafizh Syahrin (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) and Jorge Lorenzo’s replacement at the Repsol Honda Team, Stefan Bradl, who had bike problems at the beginning of his second run.

Featured Image courtesy of Jaime Olivares/Box Repsol

MotoGP: Can Marquez Break Ducati’s Grip on Austria?

This weekend, just one week on from the Czech Grand Prix, the MotoGP World Championship heads to Austria for round eleven of the 2019 season.

The Red Bull Ring (or A1 Ring, Osterreichring if you are otherwise affiliated) has traditionally been known as a ‘Ducati track’ since the Austrian Grand Prix returned to the motorcycle grand prix racing calendar in 2016. The Bologna bikes have won each of the three races held in Spielberg since its return, and with three different riders: Andrea Iannone in 2016, Andrea Dovizioso in 2017 and Joge Lorenzo in 2018. To continue their unbeaten run in the Alps this year, though, will be more difficult than ever before courtesy of Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team).

The first year of the Red Bull Ring saw Marquez and Honda struggle with a lack of acceleration in the RC213V thanks to its aggressive motor and the simplicity of the unified electronics software that were new for that year. Since Honda moved to a ‘big bang’ configuration in their MotoGP prototype, though, Marquez has challenged Ducati until the last corner, despite missing power compared to the Ducati in both 2017 and 2018. This year, Marquez has that power he was previously missing, and that could be the final piece to see him on his way to a first win in the Austrian Grand Prix – the only race Marquez is yet to win on the MotoGP calendar.

Andrea Dovizioso at Brno 2019. Image courtesy of Ducati

The forecast, then, looks bleak for Ducati. Having just been defeated convincingly at Brno, a track at which they were expected to be able to challenge Marquez, they are potentially staring at a first defeat in Austria, a circuit almost designed with the Desmosedici in mind, with its emphasis on straight-line performance and the track’s quantity of substantial straights and acceleration zones. For Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) to become the first multiple winner at the Red Bull Ring in its current guise, or for Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) or Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) to become the fourth winner in as many years, this Sunday is going to take a particularly strong weekend.

Marquez is the only rider to have gotten within three seconds of the winning Ducati over the line, with Jorge Lorenzo’s gap to Andrea Iannone in 2016 being 3.389 seconds when the Spaniard was third for Yamaha. The Iwata manufacturer have not had a podium in Austria since, with a best result of fifth place coming in 2017 courtesy of Johann Zarco. Last year, Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) was the top YZR-M1 in sixth place after qualifying in fourteenth before the public apology of Yamaha to its riders on Saturday. In fact, Rossi’s average speed in the race last year was 0.4kph slower than in 2016, whereas Lorenzo was 0.4kph faster in 2018 than Iannone in 2016, and Marc Marquez was 1.3kph faster than himself in 2016. Part of Rossi’s loss of speed can be explained by his poor qualifying in 2018, but nonetheless this shows Yamaha’s relative lack of progress in the last three or four years.

Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) took his first finish since Barcelona in Brno, but still the Spaniard is without a podium since Jerez in May. To achieve a top three this weekend with the GSX-RR would be tough, since it has a similar problem with horsepower as the Yamaha, demonstrated especially well in Mugello. Realistically, Suzuki will be hard-pressed to make the rostrum this weekend – a top five and in front of the Yamahas would be a strong result for the GSX-RR.

This is an important race for KTM, since it is their home GP and the race track is owned by their title sponsors. The RC16 should work well in Austria, and has made significant results in the past at the Red Bull Ring in the hands of Mika Kallio in 2017 when the Finn was tenth and less than twenty seconds from the leader at the line.

Joan Mi (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team) are both out of action this weekend. For Lorenzo, the issue is still the injuries from the crash in practice in Assen, while for Mir the problems are more recent, after he had a large crash in Brno at the Monday test where he reportedly found the barrier on the outside. Lorenzo will be replaced once more by Stefan Bradl this weekend, whilst there will not be a second Suzuki on track in Austria.

Featured Image courtesy of Jaime Olivares/Box Repsol

MotoGP: Marquez Reaches the Half-Century in Delayed Brno Race

In the moments after the Moto2 race in Brno, rain started to fall. This meant that as the riders lines up on the grid for the MotoGP race, the surface beneath them was wet, which wouldn’t have been a problem if the rest of the track was the same.

Between turn two and turn fourteen, the track was completely dry, but between turn fourteen and turn one the track was wet. This meant that riders would have to choose slick tyres, but starting on a wet track and heading into a wet turn one presented obvious safety risks that even Jack Miller (Pramac Racing), perhaps the most relaxed rider on the MotoGP grid when it comes to non-ideal conditions, acknowledged. Those problems included twenty-three bikes arriving at turn one with no grip and no temperature, and all of them leaving the grid with no traction control with slick tyres on a wet surface, such are the limitations of the control Magneti Marelli ECU.

As such, the decision was taken to delay the start of the race. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) was one of the riders most clearly expressing his desire for this decision, for which he received some criticism. Ultimately, if Jack Miller thinks it is unsafe, it is probably unsafe.

The Start of the 2019 Brno MotoGP race. Image courtesy of @JaimeOLIVARES/ Box Repsol

The race finally got underway thirty-five minutes late. One of the hopes among fans was that dry conditions would prevent Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) from repeating his Saturday performance when he took pole position by 2.524 seconds with slick tyres on a wet track, where the dry line was maybe two-tyre-widths-wide at its widest and non-existent at its frequent narrowest. Nonetheless, Marquez made the holeshot.

One of the issues with the conditions at the race start was the inconsistency in grip across the track, with the left side of the grid – where the front of each row was – was dry, compared to the middle which was partly wet and the right side which was mostly wet. This meant that while the likes of Marquez, Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and Valentino Rossi were able to make clean starts from dry grid slots, the likes of Johann Zarco (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) from KTM’s first MotoGP front row or Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) from the back of the third row struggled more for grip off the line.

With Miller alongside Marquez on the grid, and the Spaniard making the holeshot, the ‘holeshot device’ on the Ducati was made to look relatively useless. But it was the performance off the line of Andrea Dovizioso which showed its potential, as the Italian was steaming up to Marquez as they approached turn one, but did not have the over-speed to pass the championship leader.

Behind Dovizioso were Jack Miller and Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar), with these three and Marquez pulling clear of Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) in the opening stages.

Andrea Dovizioso during the 2019 Brno MotoGP race. Image courtesy of Tino Martino/Ducati

It is normal to see Dovizioso lead. He likes to control the pace at the front of the race, to look after his tyres so he can fight at the end. Perhaps the fact that the Italian was consistently 0.3-0.5 seconds behind Marquez put the writing on the wall. There was no challenge to Marquez’ leadership in the first half of the race and, as the tyres started to drop further in the second half, Marquez’ pace maintained, whereas for the three behind him it started to drop.

Lights-to-flag race wins were a rarity for Marquez before 2019, but they seem to be his preferred method now, perhaps as a result of the slightly weaker front end on the 2019 RC213V, or perhaps a simple realisation on the part of the pilot: that he doesn’t need to fight, he can just run away. Running away is a much more simple way of winning races, although difficult to do in the current age of MotoGP, where the bikes are so close and the operating windows for the tyres are so narrow. But Marquez and Honda have found a way this year to effect this, and it has been devastating. Winning in Brno (Marquez’ fiftieth premier class triumph), considered a Ducati track previously, might be the final nail in the 2019 MotoGP World Championship coffin – or, if you’re Marquez, the beginning of the engraving process on you’re sixth premier class plate.

Marc Marquez, winner of the 2019 Brno MotoGP. Image courtesy of Box Repsol

Behind Marquez, Dovizioso was able to pull away from Alex Rins who, for a couple of laps, was beginning to look half-threatening to Dovizioso. But Rins’ tyres went away and Dovizioso escaped to a relatively depressing second place, which leaves him sixty-three points behind Marquez ahead of Austria next weekend.

When Rins’ tyres dropped, Jack Miller took advantage, and took third place. Rins had a look over his shoulder and confirmed that his only focus was Miller with no pressure from Cal Crutchlow (LC Honda CASTROL) behind. Although he had the focus, Rins did not have the grip, and so Miller was able to claim his second podium of the season after he was also third in Texas back in April.

Miller is known as a strong wet weather rider, and one who is strong in mixed conditions, or when the tyre doesn’t match the surface. It is perhaps then no surprise that Miller was the only rider to even get remotely close to challenging Marquez in qualifying, just let down by the timing of his switch to slicks. However, it should be noted that Miller’s two podiums this year have come in the dry, and also that they came on weekends where grip was limited.

It is slightly paradoxical that the most aggressive riders, like Marquez and Miller, should be so strong in low-grip, compared to a gentle, smooth rider like Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team) or Dovizioso. But, their comfort with the bike sliding is their advantage when all the bike wants to do is slide.

Alex Rins was resigned to fourth place at the end, showing Suzuki still need to find something to protect the tyre in low-grip conditions. Importantly, though, it was Rins’ first finish since Barcelona, an important weight off his shoulders after four weeks dwelling on two consecutive crashes from podium positions.

Cal Crutchlow came through well at the start, making multiple positions. After he passed Valentino Rossi for fifth, it was a straightforward race for the Briton – faster than those behind but not fast enough to catch those in front. His 6.007-second gap to Marquez highlights further how well the Spaniard is riding.

Although recently Brno has been considered a Ducati track, it is also a track which suits well the characteristics of Yamaha, with the long, sweeping corners allowing them to use their bikes advantage: mid-corner speed.

However, on Sunday the top Yamaha was Valentino Rossi in sixth place, three seconds behind Crutchlow in fifth, 5.5 seconds off the podium and 9.083 seconds behind Marquez. The positive for Rossi is that he was the top Yamaha rider, so it is arguable that there was little more he could have gotten from the M1. The Italian will need to repeat this, though, to truly respond to those calling for him to make way in the factory Yamaha team.

Fabio Quartararo, Czech MotoGP 2019. Image courtesy of Yamaha Racing

Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) passed Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) just before Rossi was passed by Crutchlow. The Frenchman, though, was unable to catch Rossi in the time he had left, and ended up three seconds behind the Italian in seventh, almost two seconds ahead of Petrucci in eighth.

Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU) finished ninth, which is probably not going to enhance his case for a factory bike in 2020, whilst Maverick Vinales’ race was ruined by his wet grid slot and the Yamaha’s lack of power making it difficult to overtake on a track like Brno – the Spaniard finished tenth.

Pol Espargaro went backwards after a good start and finished eleventh ahead of Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) who will have been content to finish. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) returned to his form of the opening races of the season to be the second KTM across the line, almost eight seconds clear of Johann Zarco (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing). Stefan Bradl (Repsol Honda Team) finished fifteenth in what is hopefully his penultimate replacement ride for Jorge Lorenzo.

Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing) took sixteenth place ahead of Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) who beat teammate Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) to seventeenth by three tenths. Karel Abraham (Reale Avintia Racing) could only manage nineteenth in his home race, whilst Sylvain Guintoli (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was twentieth and last on his wildcard appearance.

Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) crashed out on lap one with Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) when the Italian had contact with Zarco. Morbidelli went down and Mir had no chance to avoid the #21 Yamaha. Hafizh Syahrin (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) was the only other retirement.

Featured Image courtesy of Jesus Robledo Blanco/Box Repsol

MotoGP: Marquez Destroys Rivals for Brno Pole

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 in 2019 Brno MotoGP Qualifying. Image courtesy of Yamaha Racing

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

Moto3: Arbolino Secures Brno Pole, Dalla Porta Row Six

Qualifying for the Moto3 World Championship in Brno began in wet conditions, as rain prior to the session soaked the track.

Q1 saw Raul Fernandez (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) top the session from Makar Yurchenko (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race), Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and Can Oncu (Red Bull KTM Ajo) despite a late crash for the Turk. These would be the four riders to move through to Q2.

The rain got heavier throughout Q2, but just before its intensity peaked for the session, Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) was able to put himself clear of the pack by eight tenths. Although this gap was soon reduced, no one was able to beat the Italian’s 2’18.020 lap time which gained the #14 pole position for the Czech Grand Prix.

Tony Arbolino Pole setter for the Brno Moto3 2019 race. Image courtesy of Honda Pro Racing

A late lap from John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) in the height of the rain’s intensity was enough to put the Scotsman second on the grid, whilst Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) was a few seconds behind McPhee on track and, despite having to pass Filip Salac (Redox PruestelGP) in the penultimate corner, was able to qualify third-fastest.

Starting from the front row is always important, but especially in Brno it can be useful to take a good grid position to avoid the inevitable melee in turn three on the opening lap.

The front of the second row will be occupied tomorrow by Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse), and the Japanese will be joined on row two by Raul Fernandez who crashed late on in Q2, and Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) who will be buoyed overnight by the start-line advantage he has over his main championship rival, Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing).

Row three sees Makar Yurchenko start from his career-best qualifying position of seventh, with Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai) and Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) joining him on the third row.

Alonso Lopez completes the top ten and heads up row four, ahead of fellow Honda riders, Romano Fenati (VNE Snipers), who was on the podium in Brno back in 2017 in the wet, and Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia).

Can Oncu was able to get out for Q2 despite his crash at the end of Q1 and qualified thirteenth ahead of Filip Salac and Andrea Migno (Bester Capital Dubai) who join the Turk on row five.

Can Oncu, Czech Moto3 qualifying 2019. Image courtesy of Gold and Goose/KTM

Row six sees Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46) ahead of the two Leopard Racing bikes of Lorenzo Dalla Porta and Marcos Ramirez, in seventeenth and eighteenth respectively. Dalla Porta had a bike problem – possibly a symptom of a gear-change issue from FP3 in the morning – at the beginning of the session and had limited track time as a result. The slipstream is strong in Brno thanks to the quantity of straights, despite their short length, and Dalla Porta will need to make the most of this tomorrow if he is to reach Canet who is starting eleven positions ahead.

Albert Arenas (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) crashed in Q1 and was the first of the riders to be eliminated from the first session. He will be joined on row seven by last year’s pole sitter Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PruestelGP) and Darryn Binder (CIP Green Power).

Row eight sees Dennis Foggia (SKY Racing Team VR46) – confirmed to be leaving the VR46 organisation at the end of 2019 – in front of wildcard Yuki Kunii (Asia Talent Team) and Sachsenring pole sitter Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing).

Kazuki Masaki (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race) heads up row nine ahead of Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and wildcard Deniz Oncu (Red Bull KTM Ajo); whilst Riccardo Rossi (Kommerling Gresini Moto3) heads up the last row from Tom Booth-Amos (CIP Green Power), who crashed in Q1, and Stefano Nepa (Reale Avintia Arizona 77).

Gabriel Rodrigo (Kommerling Gresini Moto3) did not take part in qualifying after a free practice 2 crash on Friday afternoon which left him with a broken pelvis and collarbone, and out of at least the Czech and Austrian rounds of the 2019 Moto3 World Championship.