Record-breaking Rossi Pole and Double Movistar Yamaha Front Row in Mugello
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP's Valentino Rossi made the crowds go wild as he grabbed pole position at the Autodromo del Mugello, setting a new circuit best lap. Teammate Maverick Viñales also gave a heroic performance at the second day of the Gran Premio d'Italia Oakley. He went through a hard-fought Q1 to secure a third place front row start in the Q2 session.
Rossi waited for most of his rivals to leave pit lane before he made his way onto the track. His initial lap moved him into fourth place. He then improved his time but not his position on his second attempt, but was pushed back to fifth as his rivals upped their speed.
With seven and a half minutes of the session remaining, the Italian headed back to the pit box and was out one and a half minutes later. With 0.399s to the benchmark pole position, he knew what he had to do. Cheered on by the passionate Italian fans, the local hero completely went for it and pushed out four red sectors to clock a 1'46.208s. The lap was unbeatable for the rest of the MotoGP rider field, giving the fans' favourite his 65th career pole position, with a 0.035s margin. It's his first pole since the Japanese Grand Prix in 2016.
Viñales was quick to head out in Q1 and went straight to the top of the timesheets with a 1'47.105s which he further improved upon with his second lap. He had to dig deep and bettered his time once more to a 1'46.806s, but was pushed back to second position as the Q2 session turned red hot in the final minutes. However, his lap was fast enough to keep him in second place and let him advance to the next session.
The Spaniard followed his teammate out of pit lane a couple of minutes later to continue his qualifying fight in Q2. He set the sixth fastest lap on his first try and held on to this position as he bettered his lap time on his second flyer, before heading back to the pits.
Viñales was quick to return, as he knew the long Mugello track wouldn't give him many more opportunities to set a hot lap. With a good six minutes left he started his second run. Multiple riders were in contention for pole position and the young Yamaha rider was keen to put his name into the mix. On his sixth attempt he set two red and two personal best sectors, to temporarily secure third place. As the pace quickened, the number 25 rider raised his game. He set a 1'46.304s, 0.096s behind his teammate, to keep his third position and make it a double front row for the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team.
Position: 1st – Time: 1’46.208 – Laps: 6
"It gave a great emotion, especially facing the crowd the lap after the pole was fantastic. It's great, because it's also a surprise. This year in qualifying I always suffered, but today the lap was great and I thought it would be enough for the front row, but in the end it was pole position. It's been a long time since I was on pole, so it's important and it's a great feeling. I think tomorrow will be more difficult, but for sure I'm enjoying this moment."
Position: 3rd – Time: 1’46.304 – Laps: 7
"After yesterday, I was hoping for a better day, but it's not about how the day starts it's about how it ends. I think we did a good job in the box. We followed the wrong direction this morning and got a bit lost. It was difficult to keep my concentration and remain positive, but I kept on fighting and I will continue to keep pushing, as always, and we'll see. I think we can improve the bike for tomorrow in some areas. At the moment we're on a good level to make one fast lap, let's see if we can do the same throughout the race."
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP - Team Director
"An incredible second day at the Italian GP! Today the team really pulled together to get some strong results. Vale couldn't have made his fans happier than by securing pole and setting the new circuit best lap at Mugello with an astounding 1'46.208s. It will make the atmosphere tomorrow, at the team's home GP, all the more special. Maverick had a difficult start today, but he and his crew turned it all around before qualifying. Despite having to take part in Q1, he scored a really important third place. This double front row start is very encouraging for the team, but the points aren't distributed until Sunday. We expect the race to be full-on, because the level is high. Even though it won't be easy, we'll try to make further improvements tonight as we prepare the last fine-tuning for tomorrow's warm-up. We have to keep in mind that it will be colder and more humid in the morning, but we'll do our best to make a final step before the race."
Zarco Primed for Mugello Battle from Third Row – Syahrin Equals Best Qualifying Performance
Monster Yamaha Tech3 rider Johann Zarco initiated the second day of action at the Italian GP this morning with a superb improvement of 1.409 seconds from the first to the third Free Practice to comfortably sit in fifth spot. During the second Qualifying session, the French star was fighting hard in the ultra-competitive premier class and will have to start from the third row on Sunday, after he missed out on the top by only 0.622 seconds.
MotoGP rookie Hafizh Syahrin found a great pace from the word go this morning. In FP3 he impressively lowered his practice time by incredible 2.381 seconds from FP1 and showed up in strong form during Q1. With a fastest time of 1'47.188 minutes, he was able to snatch a fantastic fourth position and will launch off the line from the middle of the fifth row of the grid when the red lights will go out for the Italian Grand Prix at 14.00 local time tomorrow afternoon.
Position: 9th - Time: 1’46.830 - Laps: 7
"It has been a quite difficult day, overall. We couldn't find the improvement we were looking for before the Qualifying and I was not able to ride well on this tricky track. In the fourth Free Practice I had a crash, which didn't help for this afternoon. I tried to be focused, but I feel we were missing a step to be really close to the top and that's why I couldn't get any extra. Anyway, the race is tomorrow and I hope to keep calm and find the pace during the race to make up positions step by step. When my pace is good enough, I would like to be back in the top 5, which would be fantastic."
Position: 14th - Time: 1’47.188 - Laps: 8
"I'm very happy about the Qualifying in Mugello. I got the same result like in Le Mans, P14, but Morbidelli as the best rookie sits in P12, which is not too far. I'm also truly close to the top, it's just 0.9 seconds, which makes me very proud. This is my best Qualifying at the moment, because it's less than one second to the pole position. For tomorrow I try to deliver a good start and aim to make a step forward in order to be closer to the front, because my overall pace was not bad. This track is very long, if you follow one rider, you can take an advantage for a quick lap time, but anyway, I did a great time by myself and I'm very satisfied with this. A huge thanks to my team, because from this morning, we were very fast and I will give my best to bring home as many points as possible tomorrow."