Espargaro keeps his cool for fourth on the grid

Misano: The tricky conditions in Misano caught out much of the grid, but not Pol Espargaro who used his years of Grand Prix experience to secure fourth on the grid for Sunday’s race with Repsol Honda Team teammate Marc Marquez starting in seventh.

A morning of light and consistent rain meant there was no chance of improved conditions early in the day at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, the MotoGP grid fighting for Q2 passage on a wet track. Marc Marquez and Pol Espargaro did exactly what they needed to and showed their speed in the wet, setting the fifth and sixth fastest times respectively.

Espargaro’s Free Practice 4 was complicated by the changing conditions, most riders setting just a handful of laps on wets before returning to the pits to wait for the track to dry more. Ending the session in 18th and six seconds off the fastest rider, Espargaro and his crew were well aware they had plenty still to show. As the track opened for Q2, conditions continued to steadily improve and times dropped.

Electing to stay out on track throughout Q2, Espargaro was able to continually assess the Misano circuit as its conditions improved and timed his last flying lap perfectly – a 1’33.313 moving him onto the provisional front row with just seconds remaining. A late lap from Marini pushed the #44 to fourth, Espargaro, in turn, securing his best grid slot since he was on pole for the British GP. Content with his starting position, Espargaro is keen to bring the fight to his rivals on Sunday.

Saturday in Italy proved to be a more complicated day for Marc Marquez. He fell during Free Practice 4 after switching to slicks. Although he walked away from the Turn 15 tumble, Marquez would not return to the track during the final practice session. Q2 started with a massive moment for Marc Marquez, launched out of his seat and almost over the handlebars before expertly returning to the seat of his Honda RC213V to continue his run.

But a fall later in the session at Turn 6 would end Marquez’s day. Despite the problems, the #93 set a 1’33.850 for seventh on the grid. Starting a row behind his teammate, Marquez is confident of a stronger race but remains realistic with his expectations after a difficult day.

Pol Espargaro (Fourth)

“The conditions today were super tricky. In the morning in the wet, I was really struggling to put one whole lap together and I really had to risk a lot to get into Q2. But for sure it was good to achieve this, it was a weight off my shoulders. All today we saw how tough it was and Q1 was even worse. I was quite confident going into Q2 because I knew in the dry I was ahead of a lot of riders, even if the conditions were still difficult. If you went just a tiny bit wide the track was wet, it was tough but I am really happy. The first two rows are very important here with the tight first sector so I am pleased. Tomorrow the plan is to push right from the start because there is a lot of competition around us.”

Marc Marquez (Seventh)

“If we look at the final timesheets, today wasn’t a bad day as the seventh place is more or less our position here, like Misano 1. But it’s true that I wasn’t able to take profit from the situation and I couldn’t perform how I wanted to. In Q2 I already had a big warning in the first lap and then I did an OK lap but when I tried to push for something more the feeling wasn’t there. In the past, I enjoyed saving crashes, but the save I made today was not as fun as the position was a lot more extreme and it caused me to lose some confidence. On the last lap, I said ‘ok, maybe I crash’ and I crashed. For tomorrow it’s looking like more normal conditions so I think we can put together a good race but maybe the podium is one step too far at the moment.”

Gran Premio dell’Emilia-Romagna Qualifying Results

Pos. Rider Num Team Constructor Time/Gap
1 BAGNAIA Francesco 63 Ducati Lenovo Team Ducati 1’33.045
2 MILLER Jack 43 Ducati Lenovo Team Ducati 0.025
3 MARINI Luca 10 SKY VR46 Avintia Ducati 0.085
4 ESPARGARO Pol 44 Repsol Honda Team Honda 0.268
5 OLIVEIRA Miguel 88 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 0.394
6 MORBIDELLI Franco 21 Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 0.481
7 MARQUEZ Marc 93 Repsol Honda Team Honda 0.805
8 LECUONA Iker 27 Tech 3 KTM Factory Racing KTM 0.848
9 PETRUCCI Danilo 9 Tech 3 KTM Factory Racing KTM 1.095
10 ZARCO Johann 5 Pramac Racing Ducati 1.642
11 ESPARGARO Aleix 41 Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia 1.918
12 MARTIN Jorge 89 Pramac Racing Ducati 51.586
13 RINS Alex 42 Team Suzuki Ecstar Suzuki 1.025 Q1
14 MARQUEZ Alex 73 LCR Honda Honda 1.061
15 QUARTARARO Fabio 20 Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 1.083
16 BASTIANINI Enea 23 Avintia Esponsorama Ducati 1.843
17 NAKAGAMI Takaaki 30 LCR Honda Honda 2.248
18 MIR Joan 36 Team Suzuki Ecstar Suzuki 2.29
19 VINALES Maverick 12 Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia 2.442
20 BINDER Brad 33 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 3.085
21 DOVIZIOSO Andrea 4 Petronas Yamaha SRT Yamaha 3.246
22 PIRRO Michele 51 Ducati Test Team Ducati 4.487
23 ROSSI Valentino 46 Petronas Yamaha SRT Yamaha 4.868