Marquez masters tricky conditions to take Le Mans pole

by Joshua Close
Marc Marquez masters tricky conditions to take Le Mans Pole

Marc Marquez edged closer to the all-time MotoGP pole position record after mastering tricky conditions at Le Mans to grab pole.

The timing was perfect for Marquez, with the reigning champion posting his fastest lap just before the rain began to fall. Even a crash moments later wasn’t enough to derail his challenge.

The Spaniard now has 55 poles in MotoGP, moving him level with Valentino Rossi. He is now only three behind the all-time record holder, Mick Doohan.

He will line-up alongside Danilo Petrucci and Jack Miller on the front-row. This is Petrucci’s first front-row with the factory Ducati team, whilst Miller may feel that he could have gone higher if he hadn’t run into traffic.

Andrea Dovizioso is next in fourth, making it three Ducatis in the top five. Rossi qualified fifth after using his vast experience to make it into Qualifying 2. He was the only rider to risk it on the dry tyres in the opening session.

Franco Morbidelli also made it through Qualifying 1 and will start the race from sixth. Takaaki Nakagami and Jorge Lorenzo complete row three.

Aleix Espargaro is ninth, with Fabio Quartararo completing the top 10 at his home race. Despite leading Friday’s sessions, Maverick Vinales could only manage 11th.

A lot of riders were caught out by the mixed conditions, including championship contender Alex Rins. He will start 19th after losing out in Qualifying 1.

Cal Crutchlow also failed to make it out of the opening session and will start tomorrow’s race from 15th.

At the beginning of Qualifying 1, Rossi chose to go out onto the circuit on slicks. He would be the only rider to do so, with every one else on wets.

After the first set of laps, Morbidelli was the fastest rider. Meanwhile, Rossi slotted into 10th as he continued to build up confidence on his dry tyres.

On his second flying lap, Rossi went top and continued to improve on the next couple of laps. As the other riders came back in to switch to dry tyres, Rossi produced a 1:37.667. Morbidelli would hold on to second and make it through to Qualifying 2.

Unfortunately for the other riders, the weather would change once again and the track was getting wetter. Many big names were caught out, with Francesco Bagnaia, Johann Zarco, Crutchlow and Rins all failing to make it through to Qualifying 2.

The other riders to miss out were; Miguel Oliveira, Karel Abraham, Joan Mir, Tito Rabat, Hafizh Syahrin and Andrea Iannone.

Rossi would go out in Qualifying 2 with slicks as well, along with Vinales and Quartararo. However, the track was much wetter now and the grip was low for these riders. All three riders swiftly returned to the pits for wets.

Miller set the early benchmark with a 1:41.366, however Marquez would take the lead way almost immediately with the 1:40.952 pole time.

A minute later the reigning champion was on the floor after crashing at turn six. He had gone onto the inside kerb coming down the hill and never really recovered.

The weather would soon play its part once again, as the rain began to fall a little heavier. This meant that the majority of riders were unable to improve on their times, with a handful hitting the deck.

Pol Espargaro would crash at turn six on his first flying lap, with Miller losing the front going through turn three. Nakagami also crashed on the LCR Honda.

The only rider who was able to make any ground in the closing stages was Rossi, who put his Yamaha onto the middle of the second-row (fifth).

Nobody else was able to improve and Marquez took his 55th pole position in the premier class. Sunday’s warm-up (19 May 2019) will begin at 08:40. The race itself is scheduled to take place at 13:00.

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