After FP4 showed that the list of contenders for Sunday is once again quite significant, the only other question left to answer on Saturday was which of them will have the advantage of starting from pole. Barely a couple minutes into Q2, it seemed that Yamaha were best placed to answer that question, with Franco Morbidelli in provisional pole after the first run and his colleagues trying to hunt him down. Fabio Quartararo was the exception, the Frenchman not in the picture early on, as a mistake in turn 10 and a yellow flag left him last after the first run. Quartararo finally got a chance to show his speed in the final couple of minutes, when he shot into the lead, but Morbidelli found the antidote to his teammate’s speed once again and went on to secure a maiden pole position in the premier class be a solid two tenths of a second. Quartararo had to make do with second on the grid, alongside the man who freshly signed up to take his seat next year, Valentino Rossi – making it an all-Yamaha front row.
Maverick Vinales looked like he would have a say in the family affair for the front row too, but the Spaniard metaphorically stumbled before the finish line and dropped to fifth, behind the mighty holeshot of Jack Miller’s Ducati. The Pramac rider had a busy afternoon, sailing through Q1 and using his last fresh soft rear to climb into fourth. Together with Johann Zarco in sixth, the Ducatis sandwich Vinales on the second row.
Pol Espargaro opens row three, almost seven tenths slower than the poleman but faster than Joan Mir, who once again sets himself up for an obligatory comeback through the field. Danilo Petrucci will be happy to qualify at the back of the third row, with Brad Binder rounding out the top ten. The KTM man will be in familiar company on the fourth row, with Q1 escapee Takaaki Nakagami and colleague Miguel Oliveira, whose session was perturbed by an early tumble at turn 10.
Nakagami’s late adventures in Q1 left Alex Rins out of the battle for pole and the Spaniard will start 13th, ahead of Pecco Bagnaia, Aleix Espargaro, Cal Crutchlow and another disappointing Saturday for Andrea Dovizioso, who could not drag himself out of Q1 and will start 17th.