Mixed conditions and mixed fortunes in Mugello

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 Pol Espargaro and Marc Marquez battled the sun, the wind and the rain on Saturday in Mugello as a dramatic day of qualifying unfolded.

A scorching hot morning between the hills of Mugello set the scene for a fierce battle in Free Practice 3, both Repsol Honda Team riders pushing the Honda RC213V hard around the 5.2-kilometre-long circuit. Pol Espargaro came out as the top Honda from the morning’s contest, ending FP3 in eighth and securing his Q2 slot. For Marc Marquez it was a more challenging session in 21st. This would be the last of the clear weather for the day as dark clouds quickly gathered and rain began to fall in Free Practice 4, resulting in just a few laps completed.

Having secured a position directly in Q2, Pol Espargaro ventured out in the mixed conditions of Mugello. As rain continued to fall, track conditions changed with each lap and navigating between the ever-growing wet patches was key. A 1’46.667, within a second of his weekend best time despite the conditions, sees Espargaro line up at the back of the third row in ninth. Espargaro feels there is potential for a strong race should conditions remain similar to those of Saturday afternoon.

Marc Marquez once again showed his incredible skill in the mixed conditions, fitting slicks for Q1 despite the increasing amounts of precipitation. The risk was rewarded as he advanced through to Q2 to join Repsol Honda Team teammate Pol Espargaro. As the rain continued to fall, Marquez and the rest of the MotoGP grid quickly left pit lane to make the most of the drier track. A mistake at Turn 2 on his outlap saw the #93 crash, avoiding injury but bringing out the red flag. Returning to the garage, he rejoined the restarted session on his second machine and will start the Gran Premio d’Italia Oakley from 11th after a penalty for Jorge Martin.

Takaaki Nakagami will start the race from eighth, the top Honda on the grid.

Marc Marquez (Eleventh)

“Today was another difficult day. In Free Practice 4 we changed something on the bike which improved my feeling. Then Q1 and Q2 were honestly crazy. Especially in Q1 I took a lot of risk with the slicks because it was raining already. In Q2 I also took some risks but the result didn’t arrive and in the first lap I made a mistake and crashed, I expected it to be dry but it was completely wet. Finally, I could only do my time attack with a wet bike with some small changes to the setup. Let’s see what happens in the race tomorrow, I will keep giving my 100% to help Honda.”

 

Pol Espargaro (Ninth)

“It wasn’t a bad day when you look at the conditions, it was really easy to crash today and it was hard to make a lap. We have the same mixed feeling where we can’t be disappointed or upset with what we achieved but we can’t really enjoy it either. Tomorrow is the race and I am hoping the conditions stay cold like they were today because I think there’s the possibility to have a good race then. We’re strong on the brakes here so we will need to use everything to fight against our rivals.”

 

Qualifying Results – Gran Premio d’Italia Oakley

 

Pos. Rider Num Points Team Constructor Time/Gap
1 DI GIANNANTONIO FABIO 49 ITA Team Gresini Racing MotoGP Ducati 1’46.156
2 BEZZECCHI MARCO 73 ITA Mooney VR46 Racing Team Ducati 0.088
3 MARINI LUCA 10 ITA Mooney VR46 Racing Team Ducati 0.171
4 ZARCO JOHANN 5 FRA Pramac Racing Ducati 0.227
5 BAGNAIA FRANCESCO 62 ITA Ducati Lenovo Team Ducati 0.315
6 QUARTARARO FABIO 20 FRA Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 0.350
7 ESPARGARO ALEIX 41 SPA Aprilia Racing Aprilia 0.351
8 NAKAGAMI TAKAAKI 30 JPN LCR Honda Honda 0.405
9 ESPARGARO POL 44 SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 0.511
10 BASTIANINI ENEA 23 ITA Team Gresini Racing MotoGP Ducati 0.523
11 MARTIN JORGE 89 SPA Pramac Racing Ducati 1.067
12 MARQUEZ MARC 93 SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 1.312
13 MILLER JACK 43 AUS Ducati Lenovo Team Ducati 0.402 Q1
14 PIRRO MICHELE 51 ITA Ducati Test Team Ducati 0.990
15 OLIVEIRA MIGUEL 88 POR Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 1.012
16 BINDER BRAD 33 RSA Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 1.036
17 MIR JOAN 36 SPA Team Suzuki Ecstar Suzuki 1.513
18 MARQUEZ ALEX 73 SPA LCR Honda Honda 1.627
19 GARDNER REMY 87 AUS Tech 3 KTM Factory Racing KTM 1.688
20 BINDER DARRYN 40 RSA WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team Yamaha 2.252
21 RINS ALEX 42 SPA Team Suzuki Ecstar Suzuki 3.047
22 SAVADORI LORENZO 32 ITA Aprilia Racing Test Team Aprilia 3.051
23 MORBIDELLI FRANCO 21 ITA Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 8.150
24 VINALES MAVERICK 12 SPA Aprilia Racing Aprilia 9.260
25 FERNANDEZ RAUL 25 SPA Tech 3 KTM Factory Racing KTM 9.887
26 DOVIZIOSO ANDREA 4 ITA WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team Yamaha 10.452