Valentino Rossi on the front row at Aragón, anyone who would have bet even one cent, raise your hand. Probably nobody! The Saturday at Motorland is one to frame for the Doctor who, after taking tenth place in FP3, astonished everyone in qualifying. At only about 20 days after fracturing his tibia and fibula, number 46 was back in the saddle astride his M1, bringing home a memorable third best time in Q2 that has all the flavour of a true miracle: “I am very enthusiastic, since I did not know what to expect – the nine-time world champion revealed – Anyway, I was lucky. In fact, my leg is improving day by day. I wish to thank doctor Pascarella for the surgery and all my friends who have been at my side. Along with the team, we did a great job – number 46 added – I hope that I’ll be able to hold on through to the last lap tomorrow and make the right choice in terms of the tyre.”
The Italian’s performance almost overshadows the pole position that Maverick Viñales achieved with a time of 1’47”635: “I knew that I would be able to improve – the Spaniard commented on his fifth MotoGP pole position – I am truly satisfied with the result.” A strong signal sent from number 25, who had been in obvious difficulty yesterday in the rain!
And then, between the two Yamahas, there is Jorge Lorenzo’s Ducati, forced to fight his way through Q1 to get into Q2 due to his eleventh place time in FP3: “I had to go through Q1 because of just one tenth of a second – he recalled – In any case, I was able to be very fast in these qualifiers, although I would not have imagined finishing on the front row. I am also happy with my race pace.”
It seems strange not to see even one Honda on the front row, even more so not to see Marc Marquez, on a track where the little devil has always shown that he has a little something extra. It was a bitter qualifying session for number 93 who, after setting the bar on his first flying lap, wound up in the gravel with five minutes left in the session and being unable to get back onto the track. The Spaniard must therefore settle for the fifth best time, just over three tenths behind the leader (+0.328). Cal Crutchlow finished ahead of him.
And then, what can we say about Andrea Dovizioso? With the Honda rider out of the mix, the Italian was unable to capitalise. In fact, the Ducati rider had to settle for seventh place at a half a second behind the leader (+0.502), particularly struggling in the central sector. Dani Pedrosa finished just 30 thousandths of a second ahead of him.
Beside the number four rider will be the Aprilia ridden by Aleix Espargaró (+0.524), whereas the tenth best time went to a rediscovered Suzuki ridden by Andrea Iannone (+0.654). Behind him is the Yamaha piloted by Zarco, who did the second best time in Q1.
Marquez was not the only one to crash. The same fate awaited Alvaro Bautista and Mika Kallio, respectively ninth and twelfth at the end of the session.