MotoGP: Marquez storms to pole in America despite early fall
It was yet another Marc Marquez show in the Americas Grand Prix at the Circuit of the America with the Honda rider taking his 74th career pole despite a fall. Yamaha's Maverick Vinales had his best qualifying of 2018 to be second, with Suzuki's Andrea Iannone in third.
It looked like it will rain at COTA as the riders were preparing for the first part of qualifying, however, it stayed dry all-through which saw KTM’s Pol Espargaro and Pramac Racing’s Danilo Petrucci making it through to Q2 to join the Top 10 riders.
Tech 3 Yamaha’s Hafizh Syahrin led the way in the early part of the session but the Malaysian dropped down as Petrucci went on top. But Espargaro surprised everybody to clock a 2m05.169s to go on top when he was amidst a train of riders.
Petrucci dropped to second as a result after his time of 2m05.245s to join Espargaro for a Q2 bid. Just missing on the place was LCR Honda’s Takaaki Nakagami who registered his best result to start Sunday’s race from 13th after his time of 2m05.457s.
Avintia Ducati’s Tito Rabat looked good to improve on his time of 2m05.686s on his final attempt, but had to back out after a moment, leaving him 14th ahead of the second KTM of Bradley Smith with a time of 2m05.761s.
Despite leading the early part, Syahrin ended up only 16th with a time of 2m05.873s followed by the led Marc VDS Honda rider Franco Morbidelli (2m05.943s). Meanwhile, Argentina’s pole-sitter Pramac Racing’s Jack Miller (2m05.966s) could only manage 18th position.
While his brother made headlines, Aprilia’s Alexis Espargaro was 19th after his time of 2m06.035s followed by Marc VDS Honda’s Thomas Luthi (2m06.222s) and Angel Nieto Ducati of Alvaro Bautista (2m06.296s) – the latter session was disturbed after he went off in a corner.
It wasn’t the day for Aprilia as Scott Redding (2m06.370s) finished 22nd leading Angel Nieto Ductati’s Karel Abraham (2m06.537s) – who suffered a crash in Turn 10 – with Avintia Ducati’s Xavier Simeon (2m06.726s) completing the positions.
The first part in the second session went to Marquez despite the reigning champion suffering a fall in Turn 13 after going too hot in the corner. The Spaniard picked himself up and went straight into the box to come out on his second bike.
He led the way from Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi and championship leader LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow. The start of the final run wasn’t all clean as Vinales was caught out by Marquez on his quick lap, much to the frustration of the Yamaha rider – the incident was put under investigation by the race direction.
But on-track, Marquez took pole with a time of 2m03.658s beating Vinales (2m04.064s) by 0.408s as Iannone (2m04.209s) rounded out the front row for Sunday’s race. The top independent rider was Tech 3 Yamaha’s Johann Zarco in fourth with a time of 2m04.210s.
In the end, Rossi was only fifth after his time of 2m04.229s while Ducati’s Jorge Lorenzo (2m04.294s) pulled out a surprise in sixth finishing two places ahead of teammate Andrea Dovizioso (2m04.865s) with Crutchlow (2m04.456s) in the Ducati sandwich.
Riding with much pain after Argentina’s crash and subsequent surgery, Honda’s Dani Pedrosa put in a tremendous effort to be ninth with a time of 2m04.963s, ahead of Petrucci (2m05.058s), Suzuki’s Alex Rins (2m05.260s) and Espargaro (2m05.829s.