Valentino Rossi sent the Mugello crowd into raptures by claiming a stunning pole position for tomorrow’s Italian Grand Prix. The home favourite delivered the quickest lap of the weekend at the perfect moment assisted by, of all people, Maverick Vinales as the current Yamaha rider pipped his future teammate to pole.
The drama began in Q1 with a number of high-profile riders missing the cut in final practice, forcing them into the first session. Pol Espargaro was among them but he appeared to have secured a Q2 spot when he clocked a 1:47.159 early in the session but a crash on his final run ultimately proved costly as Scott Redding and Aleix Espargaro knocked him out. The Tech 3 rider wasn’t the only big-name casualty though with Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow also eliminated.
Having topped the timesheets in every dry practice session, Ducati’s Andrea Iannone was the hot favourite for pole and the Italian latched onto the back of Jorge Lorenzo early in Q2. The strategy of following the reigning champion clearly worked as Iannone set a 1:46.727 and an identical tactic on the second run enabled him to go a tenth faster soon afterwards.
With the expected challenge from Lorenzo and Marc Marquez failing to materialise, all eyes were on the Yamaha of Rossi in the dying seconds and after positioning himself perfectly behind the Suzuki of Vinales, ‘The Doctor’ snatched pole from his compatriot with a 1:46.504. Vinales wasn’t finished yet and improved to second on his last lap but pole went to the home favourite.
Iannone will line up third with Marquez and Lorenzo line-astern in fourth and fifth, just ahead of the second Suzuki of Espargaro. Dani Pedrosa heads row three ahead of Bradley Smith and Danilo Petrucci while Scott Redding starts tenth thanks to his Q1 heroics.
2016 Gran Premio d’Italia TIM (Qualifying Classification)
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