After a sensational final pole battle of 2018, Q1 graduate Maverick Vinales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) was the man to take P1 in Q2 at Valencia after setting a 1m31.312s. This was enough to edge out second place Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) by 0.068s and third place Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) by 0.08s as Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) crashed, dislocated his shoulder, then headed back out to claim P5.
In addition, a piece of history was made in Valencia GP Q2 as all six manufacturers finished inside the top eight in qualifying – the first time this has happened in the history of Grand Prix motorcycle racing.
It was the seven-time champion who led the field onto the first flying lap but then at Turn 4, the No. 93 suddenly lost the front and went down, dislocating his troublesome left shoulder in the process. Marquez headed straight back to the Repsol Honda motorhome to get it popped back in place.
Dovizioso who was setting the pace, but then Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing) got the better of his compatriot to set the first 1m31s of the session, before blitzing the field again on his next lap – a 1m31.531s the time to beat, with Rins now P2. The gap was 0.455s after the first runs, with Dovizioso, Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) and Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) the top five.
With six minutes to go, all eyes were on Marquez as he left pitlane. Before the 93 crossed the line though, Vinales shot to the top to take provisional pole – Marquez meanwhile stuck it on P3. Rins was on a fast one and went to P2, 0.021s off Vinales’ time and then Dovi shot up to P3.
Red sectors were lighting up the screens and it was Vinales who went quicker again, 0.068s now his margin at the summit, with Marquez climbing back up to P3 again – just 0.13s off. The world champion then had a moment at Turn 1 to end his session, but there was still time for change elsewhere. Petrucci went quicker again but could only manage P4, with Dovi also improving, but it was only enough to go P3. Rins was then threatening to take pole away from Vinales on his final lap but the Spaniard couldn’t quite do it.
A breathless qualifying ended with Vinales spearheading the grid — the first time he’s claimed pole on a Saturday since Aragon last year, with his Americas GP pole this season resulting from a Marquez penalty. His 1m31.312s was 0.068s quicker than Rins’ best, the Spaniard recovering from two Saturday crashes to start from his first premier class front row, with Dovizioso just 0.08s back on the outside of the front row. Petrucci was just 0.022 off the front row in fourth on his final race with Alma Pramac Racing, with Marquez starting from a ridiculously impressive P5.
It was a great day for Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) as he claimed P6 in qualifying, the Spaniard just 0.265s from pole in KTM’s equal best qualifying, with Q1 graduate Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) P7 – 0.317s off pole. Aleix Espargaro’s (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) P8 meant all six manufacturers were inside the top eight for the first time in history – just 0.318 splitting the six factories. In his final qualifying, Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) claimed P9 to start from the outside of the third row, with Miller suffering his fourth crash of the weekend to start P10.
While on a lap that was 0.3s under, Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) crashed at Turn 10 to start P11, with Michele Pirro (Ducati Team) settling for P12 after making it straight into Q2 from Free Practice.
After failing to make it through Q1, Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) starts P16.