MotoGP

Viñales puts on a masterclass to take Qatar Pole

2 Mins read
Maverick Viñales grabs pole for Qatar MotoGP
Maverick Viñales grabs pole in Qatar. (Credit: MotoGP.com)

Maverick Viñales will start the first MotoGP race of 2019 from pole position after an sublime qualifying performance on the Monster Energy Yamaha.

The 2016 Qatar race winner avoided the large group of riders who were looking for a tow and achieved a 1:53.546 on his quickest lap.

Viñales is joined on the front-row by Andrea Dovizioso, with last year’s race winner slipping under the radar to take second. Given the pace of the Ducati around the Losail circuit, the Italian will be feeling confident ahead of tomorrow’s race.

The front-row is completed by reigning champion, Marc Marquez. The Repsol Honda rider had struggled for pace throughout qualifying and relied on a tow from Danilo Petrucci in order to produce a fast time.

Jack Miller heads row two, despite a crash late in the session, alongside 19-year-old rookie Fabio Quartararo. The Petronas Yamaha rider continues to impress and his confidence must be increasing. The second-row is completed by Cal Crutchlow on the LCR Honda.

Petrucci will start the race from seventh, with Franco Morbidelli (eighth), Takaaki Nakagami (ninth) and Alex Rins completing the top 10.

Jorge Lorenzo will start his first race for Repsol Honda from the fifth row after crashing out at turn two in Q1. The same corner also claimed Tito Rabat and Johann Zarco in the first qualifying session.

Valentino Rossi’s problems continued on the Yamaha, with the nine-time champion lining up just ahead of Lorenzo on row five.

On the first run of Q1, Crutchlow led the way with a 1:54.561, with Lorenzo joining him in the top two with a 1:54.563. Francesco Bagnaia was the closest threat in third for Pramac Ducati.

Lorenzo was the first of the front-runners back out on track for a second run. Meanwhile, Rossi’s crew were busy changing not only the rear tyre, but the front one as well.

Nakagami was the first rider to set a time on the second runs, the Japanese rider moved up to third with a 1:54.584.

Within the next few minutes three riders would crash out at turn two – including Lorenzo. Rabat and Zarco would also lose the front heading into the corner.

Cructhlow increased his lead at the top of the timing sheets with a 1:54.270. On his second flying lap of the second run, Nakagami knocked Lorenzo out of the top two with a 1:54.431.

Bagnaia and Rossi would move up into third and fourth in the session, moving ahead of Lorenzo on row five of tomorrow’s grid.

At the beginning of Q2 a large group of riders bunched up on the circuit and cost each other the chance of getting an early lap in.

Viñales was left on his own and he took full advantage by posting a 1:53.844 – the quickest time of the whole day at that stage.

Nakagami was up there was again at the end of the first run, with a time of 1:54.239. Quartararo continued to impress in third at the end of his first run.

On to the second runs and Viñales headed straight out onto the circuit and in clear air once again. On his first flying lap he improved his time to a 1:53.546. Meanwhile, Miller briefly moved up into second before being bumped down to third by Dovizioso.

Moments later, Miller became the fourth rider to crash at turn two in the qualifying session. Overall, there have now been 10 crashes at that corner this weekend.

Viñales and Dovizioso were secure at the front but there was still time for Marquez to leap up the order and onto the front-row – albeit with some help from the back of Petrucci’s Ducati throughout the lap.

The first race of the 2019 MotoGP season is scheduled to begin at 17:00 tomorrow.

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