Viñales lights up Losail to take pole ahead of Dovi and Marquez, with the top nine all Yamaha, Ducati or Honda riders
Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) has taken the first MotoGP™ pole position of the 2019 season at the VisitQatar Grand Prix, a 1:53.546 putting him 0.198 clear of second place Andrea Dovizioso (Mission Winnow Ducati), with Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) claiming P3 on his final flying lap to finish just 0.001 off the Ducati rider.
The first qualifying session of the year didn’t disappoint, but it was a game of follow the leader to start with as Danilo Petrucci (Mission Winnow Ducati) led Marquez and a host of other riders onto the first flying lap, with the bunch all backing out after the first corner.
One rider who didn’t sacrifice his opening lap though was Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) as the rookie shot to the top of the times, only to be beaten almost immediately by Q1 graduate Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu). However, Viñales then stormed to the summit with a lap that was 0.741 quicker than anyone else, with Quartararo and Nakagami exchanging second fastest laps to leave the Japanese rider 0.395 off as the field headed in for a change of tyres. Quartararo, Dovizioso, Marquez and Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) were all 0.4 off the Spaniard at this point.
Viñales led the troops back out for their second runs and the Yamaha rider moved the goalposts once more. Three more tenths were shaved off his best time, with Miller slotting into P2 – 0.2 off. The Australian then crashed at Turn 2 to end his hopes of pole, with Dovi making a move into second place soon after.
Dovizioso then looked set to challenge Viñales again as he went over a tenth under after the first split, but the Italian was suddenly over two seconds off in the second sector – Dovi’s qualifying effort over.
Attention then turned to Marquez, who was on the tailpipes of Petrucci as neither sat on the provisional front row with little time left. The reigning World Champion was able to snatch P3 from Miller as he and ‘Petrux’ fired past the finish line in tandem, 0.001 was the gap to Dovi as Miller misses out on a front row start by 0.064.
Fabulous Fabio will launch from the middle of the second row in his first MotoGP™ race, a fine effort from the 19-year-old in Q2, with Q1 pace setter Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) climbing up to P6 on his final flying lap – 0.549 the gap to Viñales. Petrucci would end P7, with Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) joining his compatriot on the third row for his best premier class qualifying result. Nakagami settled for ninth after a great Q1 and Q2, with Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) completing the top ten in Qatar. Rins’ teammate Joan Mir will begin his maiden MotoGP™ race from P11, with Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) P12 in Q2.
Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and fellow multiple World Champion Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team) will line up in P14 and P15 respectively. A huge battle is on their hands if they are going to challenge for a large point haul.
So it’s Viñales who takes the first pole of the 2019 season with a new Losail pole record, but the question remains as to who will take home the 25 points from Qatar. Tune in for the first premier class race of the season when the lights go out at 20:00 local time (GMT+3).
1. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) 1:53.546
2. Andrea Dovizioso (Mission Winnow Ducati) + 0.198
3. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) + 0.199
4. Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) + 0.263
5. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) + 0.400
6. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) + 0.549
7. Danilo Petrucci (Mission Winnow Ducati) + 0.654
8. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) + 0.690
9. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) + 0.693
10. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.711