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.”