Rossi breaks pole drought on home soil

Valentino Rossi pic: MotoGP.com

Valentino Rossi has taken pole position for the Italian MotoGP, his first since 2016, in a thrilling qualifying session.

Rossi had to break the outright lap record at Mugello to do so, taking the #46 Movistar Yamaha to pole for the first time in 27 MotoGP races (one of which he missed due to injury).

The Italian will file up alongside the Ducati Team’s Jorge Lorenzo and the other factory Yamaha of Maverick Viñales.

Andrea Iannone was fastest in the first runs with what was then a new track record on the #29 Suzuki Ecstar entry, thanks in part to an error from Marc Marquez.

Rossi, however, came out at the start of his second run and took more than a tenth off that benchmark as he set a 1:46.208s.

Lorenzo then threatened to upstage his former team-mate and put an Italian bike on pole but came up 0.035s short.

“It’s a great emotion, especially the lap after the pole,” said Rossi.

“I say ‘ciao’ to all the crowd, it’s fantastic.

“It’s great because also it’s a surprise because this year in the qualifying I always suffer but today the lap was great and I thought that it was enough for the front row but in the end it’s pole position.

“It’s a long time so it’s important, it’s a great feeling.

“I think that tomorrow will be more difficult but for sure I enjoy the moment.”

Viñales went from sixth to third at the start of his second run but had to improve again to get back onto the front row, having start qualifying in the first 15-minute session.

Iannone didn’t go faster again but was good enough for fourth, one position ahead of Pramac Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci.

Marquez will join them on the second row after he twice couldn’t put a full lap together on his Repsol Honda.

The world champion twice messed up a lap in which he was fastest to the second sector, including in the final minute when he very nearly crashed Bike #93 at the last corner.

Row 3 will be Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda), and Johann Zarco (Tech3 Yamaha).

Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar), Jack Miller (Pramac Ducati), and Franco Morbidelli (Marc VDS Honda) make up Row 4.

Miller also had to take the long route to Qualifying 2 after being bumped to 12th on combined times during Free Practice 3, in which he dropped Bike #43.

Dani Pedrosa was one of several to go down during Free Practice 4 and his afternoon didn’t get any better when he could only put his Repsol Honda 20th on the grid.

The sixth race of the season, of 23 laps distance, starts on Sunday night at 2200 AEST.

Qualifying: Italian MotoGP

Pos Num Rider Nat Team Bike Time Gap 1st/prev
1 46 Valentino ROSSI ITA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 1:46.208
2 99 Jorge LORENZO ESP Ducati Team Ducati 1:46.243 0.035 / 0.035
3 25 Maverick VIÑALES ESP Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 1:46.304 0.096 / 0.061
4 29 Andrea IANNONE ITA Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Suzuki 1:46.347 0.139 / 0.043
5 9 Danilo PETRUCCI ITA Alma Pramac Racing Ducati 1:46.445 0.237 / 0.098
6 93 Marc MARQUEZ ESP Repsol Honda Team Honda 1:46.454 0.246 / 0.009
7 04 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Ducati Team Ducati 1:46.500 0.292 / 0.046
8 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW GBR LCR Honda CASTROL Honda 1:46.813 0.605 / 0.313
9 5 Johann ZARCO FRA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 1:46.830 0.622 / 0.017
10 42 Alex RINS ESP Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Suzuki 1:46.909 0.701 / 0.079
11 43 Jack MILLER AUS Alma Pramac Racing Ducati 1:46.998 0.790 / 0.089
12 21 Franco MORBIDELLI ITA EG 0,0 Marc VDS Honda 1:47.002 0.794 / 0.004
13 53 Tito RABAT ESP Reale Avintia Racing Ducati 1:46.908 Q1 / Q1
14 55 Hafizh SYAHRIN MAL Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 1:47.188 Q1 / 0.280
15 44 Pol ESPARGARO ESP Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 1:47.335 Q1 / 0.147
16 19 Alvaro BAUTISTA ESP Angel Nieto Team Ducati 1:47.708 Q1 / 0.373
17 38 Bradley SMITH GBR Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 1:47.818 Q1 / 0.110
18 30 Takaaki NAKAGAMI JPN LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda 1:47.868 Q1 / 0.050
19 12 Thomas LUTHI SUI EG 0,0 Marc VDS Honda 1:47.989 Q1 / 0.121
20 26 Dani PEDROSA ESP Repsol Honda Team Honda 1:48.065 Q1 / 0.076
21 41 Aleix ESPARGARO ESP Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia 1:48.286 Q1 / 0.221
22 17 Karel ABRAHAM CZE Angel Nieto Team Ducati 1:48.532 Q1 / 0.246
23 45 Scott REDDING GBR Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia 1:48.744 Q1 / 0.212
24 10 Xavier SIMEON BEL Reale Avintia Racing Ducati 1:48.794 Q1 / 0.050

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