The sun finally decided to shine over the qualifying session and promised a show after the premier class only got one outing in dry conditions. And the session got off to a dramatic start, Marc Marquez taking an innocent tumble in turn four and his dislocated shoulder became a more urgent problem than not having set a time yet. While the world champion was getting some attention in the team truck, Danilo Petrucci was setting the pace half a second faster than the rivals.
Once the infamous shoulder was back in its rightful place, Marquez was ready to start the final shootout and while the world champion was warming up on the cold track, Maverick Viñales found the sweet spot on his Yamaha and snatched the lead. Despite several challengers revealing themselves in the final minutes left of the session, the Spaniard completed the fairy-tale and scored his first pole position in over a year after having to come through Q1.
Alex Rins and Andrea Dovizioso looked on track to break Yamaha hearts but both stumbled on the final lap and had to settle for the remaining places on the front row, under a tenth of a second separating the lead trio. Petrucci missed out on the front row by only two hundredths of a second, while the springy reigning world champion pushed hard on his way to fifth, after another big moment on the final lap, ending up only a tenth off pole. In all the last minute turmoil, there was little limelight left for Pol Espargaro, the Spaniard qualifying in an excellent sixth position to equal KTM’s best performance in the class.
The other Q1 survivor, Andrea Iannone, opens row three ahead of Aleix Espargaro and Dani Pedrosa, the trio getting little airtime in the short but eventful Q2 session. Jack Miller started his session by adding yet another crash to his sizeable list this weekend and qualified tenth. The Pramac rider heads fourth row ahead of Johann Zarco, who ended up sliding in the gravel on his backside halfway through a red hot lap, and familiar wildcard Michele Pirro.
Jorge Lorenzo did a heroic job to only miss out on Q2 by half a tenth and qualify 13th. While half of the Yamaha garage gathered in parc ferme, the celebrations were minimal on the other side of the garage, with Valentino Rossi not looking like a serious threat in Q1 and unable to do any better than 16th.