A kind of magic: Marquez puts slicks on pole at a half-soaked Brno

2019-08-04 22:01
Pole positions come and go, lap records are broken, and the paddock inevitably marches on. But every now and then, someone creates a moment that instantly gets inked into the history books, and that’s exactly what Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) did to take pole position in the Monster Energy Grand Prix České republiky. Slicks in mixed conditions are a recipe for gravel or glory and Marquez threaded the needle to perfection in one of the most stunning qualifying performances in history, annihilating his rivals by over two and a half seconds. If that wasn’t enough, it’s also pole number 58 for the number 93, equalling Mick Doohan’s all-time premier class record. Joining Marquez on the front row are Jack Miller (Pramac Racing), who also took the gamble on slicks, and Johann Zarco (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), who took the first front row for the Austrian factory and his first this season.

In Q1, it was also KTM’s time to shine as Zarco reigned ahead of teammate Pol Espargaro, with the two split by just 0.020 and both moving through to contest what looked like a very challenging Q2. And that it turned out to be, with Zarco again the man in the spotlight as the Frenchman took provisional pole with ten minutes remaining, ahead of Espargaro, and a dry line starting to appear on the track.

The drama came first from a fight between Marquez and Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar), with the two getting a little too close for comfort on track before rolling into pitlane in tandem and exchanging a few words. And that’s when the reigning Champion switched to slicks, heading back out with seven minutes left on the clock, as the rain began to return.

Meanwhile, Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) had gone the opposite way, and it looked like Marquez could have made a serious mistake as the Ducati man shot up into second to split the KTMs…and the rain started to fall. But then the red sectors started to appear.

First it was a few tenths, and by the end of the lap it was over a second. At parts of the track it was pouring with rain but the number 93 kept on keeping on, eking out the advantage with utter commitment to the cause and taking over on top.

Miller was also seeing red and moved up to second behind Marquez not long after, and that was surely all she wrote? Not so as both men began another flying lap. For Miller, sadly, it came to an early end as the Australian crashed out. But he’d done enough to keep his impressive second place and once again proved a master of rolling the dice, with everything now left to one man and his slicks: Marquez. Could he improve? He didn’t need to, but the reigning Champion was on a mission.

Four tenths in sector 1 became nearly a second in sector 2, before the third sector saw the timing screens light up with a gap of almost a second and a half. The final sector was where the rain was still coming down though; all that stood between Marquez and pole number 58. That, too, was conquered, with Marquez’ final effort pulling him two and a half seconds clear of the field and a second and a half ahead of his previous best. Mission accomplished, history made.

So he heads Miller and Zarco as the Frenchman earns KTM’s first MotoGP™ front row start and his best qualifying result since taking pole in Malaysia last year, with Dovizioso putting himself in a solid position for the race in fourth. Espargaro lines up in fifth for the second time this season, with Rins ultimately set to launch from sixth.

Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) slammed in a late personal best time on the wet tyres to spearhead the third row of the grid in Brno, ‘The Doctor’ leads Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) and Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), who are in eighth and ninth respectively. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT), Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) and Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) completed the Q2 runners.

The Czech Adrenaline Factory certainly lived up its name on Saturday, as Marquez swept away records and rain for premier class pole 58. But Sunday should be dry, and that’s a whole new
ball game...so tune in for it at 14:00 local time (GMT+2).


Do not adjust your set: Marquez two seconds clear for Moto2™ pole

The Championship leader turned the screw in Q2 and timed it to perfection

Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) is on pole for the Monster Energy Grand Prix České republiky, but there's much more to the headline than that. The number 73 timed it to perfection on a difficult, mixed track to take two seconds out his closest challenger, Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2), and pick up where he left off in Germany. Lowes starts second after a nevertheless impressive session, with Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40) completing the front row in third...four seconds adrift.

Earlier there was plenty of drama in Q1, with Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) moving up to lead Bo Bendsneyder (NTS RW Racing GP) and Brit Jake Dixon (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) in third, with another impressive performer in fourth as Marco Bezzecchi (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) joined them to move through. Some first timers, some wet weather specialists...and everything to play for in Q2.

The rain was easing off in the second session and times tumbled. After the first five minutes, the top four were the Q1 graduates, with Marco Bezzecchi leading the way, but there was plenty more to come.

Baldassarri took the leap to dry tyres, swiftly followed by Marquez. Then Bo Bendsneyder took a light tumble at Turn 1, rider remounting, as Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) and Sam Lowes started to attack. But it was Fabio Di Giannantonio (Beta Tools Speed Up) who took over at the top at that stage, with Friday's fastest impressing in the very different conditions, and it was clear that whoever set their flying lap last would be making some serious gains as it continued drying out.

It came down to Marquez vs Lowes, with each sector making it increasingly clear that the number 73 was about to absolutely obliterate the opposition. And that he did, although it was also true of Lowes with everyone else.

A late lap from Lorenzo Baldassarri secured him third on the grid and a front row for the first time with Qatar, although the deficit was sizeable it proved enough. Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) blasted in a lap right at the end to head up row two, turning the tables on compatriot rookie Giannantonio to just pip him on Saturday, with Marco Bezzecchi in sixth making it an all-Italian second row as he took his best Moto2™ grid position since joining the class.

Marcel Schrötter was seventh as he aims for back-to-back podiums, with Bo Bendsneyder in eighth ahead of fellow top performer Jake Dixon. Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40) completed the top ten.

So where's Championship challenger Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP)? Down in P12 despite his previous wet weather win at Brno. He'll be looking to move forward on Sunday, as will Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) in 14th, Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 16th and returnee Mattia Pasini (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2 down in 24th....

Marquez seems on an unstoppable roll of late. But race day is set to dawn dry, and the number 73 had serious company before the conditions changed. Can he do it again? Find out when the lights go out on Sunday at 12:20 local time (GMT+2).


Arbolino ahead of the curve for pole in Czechia

Italian takes pole in wet qualifying to celebrate his birthday in style

Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) celebrated his birthday in style at the Monster Energy Grand Prix České republiky, taking pole position by an impressive four tenths in the wet. He's perfectly set up for race day after also having been fast on Friday in the dry, and he'll be joined on the front row by 2016 Brno winner John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and 2015 winner Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse).

But before all that was decided in Q2, after the heavens opened on Saturday morning, Q1 was high risk and there was plenty of drama: Tom Booth-Amos (CIP Green Power) tumbled at Turn 13, Albert Arenas (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) suffered a highside at Turn 3, although he remounted, and Can Öncü (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was teetering on the edge of the top four when he crashed out. The Turk held onto his fourth place, however, joining Raul Fernandez (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team), Makar Yurchenko, (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race) and Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) in going through to Q2.

As Q2 began, conditions were wet wet wet and remained so, with McPhee leading for much of the session. Fernandez was also looking strong, but Arbolino changed the benchmark with two minutes to go and was the first rider in the 2’18s. Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) then shot into second place in the closing stages, but was pipped right at the end by McPhee. Antonelli then did the same to his teammate, dropping Suzuki down to fourth.

Alongside the Japanese rider is Fernandez despite a crash at Turn 3 for the Spaniard, with Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) completing the second row in sixth place as the Championship contender put himself in a solid position for Sunday. Makar Yurchenko took a career-best qualifying position with seventh, ahead of Spanish rider Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai). Japanese rookie Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) locked out the third row.

Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) completed the top ten, ahead of veteran Romano Fenati (VNE Snipers), Qatar winner Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) and youngest ever Grand Prix winner Can Öncü (Red Bull KTM Ajo). Home hero Filip Salac (Redox Prüstel GP) was just behind them, putting in a solid performance for P14.

So who's missing from the front? Championship leader Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) had a tough qualifying, and the Italian faces a fight back through the field from P17 - qualifying just ahead of teammate Marcos Ramirez, another usual frontrunner.

How will the conditions shuffle the pack on race day? Can the Leopard duo strike back on Sunday? Tune in at 11:00 (GMT +2) local time to find out.

Source: Dorna Sports

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