MotoGP Raceweek: Vinales looks to profit from Marquez-Rossi feud

By Chris Myson 15 September 2019 125
MotoGP Raceweek: Vinales looks to profit from Marquez-Rossi feud

Maverick Vinales hopes to be the beneficiary of a feud between MotoGP's biggest two names, Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi, at the San Marino Grand Prix.

A spat between Marquez and Rossi over track position in qualifying, which led to both riders being hindered and exceeding the track limits on their final flying laps, was the major talking point from Saturday.

The championship leader and the motorsport icon had to settle for fifth and seventh on the grid respectively.

Rossi's Monster Energy Yamaha team-mate Vinales, meanwhile, took pole position at Misano, building on his manufacturer's strong showing in testing at the circuit ahead of the race, which had continued through practice.

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing's Pol Espargaro claimed his team's first front-row start at a dry race with a superb second and rookie sensation Fabio Quartararo completed the top three.

"When I arrived to parc ferme and I saw the two Yamahas and our orange rocket in the middle, I was fully proud," said Espargaro. "It was an unbelievable moment."

Quartararo's Petronas Yamaha team-mate Franco Morbidelli also impressed and he leads Marquez and Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso on the second row.

Dovizioso will therefore start close to Marquez, who leads the Italian by 78 points in the standings with only seven races to go.

Alex Rins, a thrilling winner at Silverstone last time out, starts eighth due to a three-place grid penalty for Johann Zarco, who drops down to 11th.

Cal Crutchlow (14th), Jack Miller (16th), Danilo Petrucci (17th) and Jorge Lorenzo (18th) were among a host of big names to miss out on Q2, while Andrea Iannone will not take part in the race due to a shoulder injury.

Vinales finished seventh the last time he was on pole, in the season opener in Qatar, but he has recorded three podiums since then including a victory in Assen.

The Spaniard, who was 0.295 seconds clear of the field to claim his eighth career pole, said: "I'm really happy and excited - a really good weekend so far.

"We're enjoying the moment because it's always difficult to be in P1 on Saturday. We've worked well for the race, the rhythm is there, we had great pace in the last laps.

"During the test we worked really hard on the slippery conditions and that's why we are on the front now. All the Yamahas have been working well, but somehow we created better grip than the others.

"My objective is to take the lead from the first corner and then push at my maximum. This is a good track for me and for sure I'll be going for the victory.

"I have nothing to lose and everything to win."
 

MARQUEZ-ROSSI FEUD CAPTURES ATTENTION

The worst qualifying result of the season for Marquez, who had earlier crashed in FP4, came partly because of his battle with Rossi.

Three-time Misano winner Rossi and Marquez tangled during their last attempts to set a time, trading overtaking moves before both riders sat up after coming very close to contact at turn 14.

No action was taken by race stewards, but neither rider was particularly happy, both having touched the green run-off area outside of the track limits at different stages.

Rossi said: "I was on my hot lap, I was pushing 100 per cent and he overtook me in the fast corner at turn 11 and he already made me lose a lot of time.

"He tried to pass me in the Curvone knowing that he was ruining my lap and to overtake me he also went [to the] green. I tried to stay more inside to re-overtake in the hairpin but I arrived wide.

"In the end we lost all the chance to do the lap time."

But Repsol Honda star Marquez insisted he was not aware he had run off track and questioned the motives of Rossi.

"I didn't know that I touched the green," he said. "I was pushing and I thought that I was not on the green.

"I was on my hot lap because it was my last chance. At that moment, even I didn't understand what happened because that kind of overtake in qualifying practice is a little bit strange.

"Of course it was an aggressive reaction [from me] because I didn't expect it. His lap was also cancelled because in the exit of turn six, and this is important, he already touched the green.

"For that reason it's difficult to understand what his intention was, you must ask him. I overtook him in the back straight, then at turn 14, I just go in, I saw one black and yellow bike arriving very, very fast inside with a speed that it is impossible to make that corner with."


DOVI EXPECTED DUCATI STRUGGLES

After his big crash at the British Grand Prix last time out, Dovizioso – last year's winner at this track - suggested he had made the best of a bad situation for Ducati, especially given his team-mate Petrucci starts towards the back.

"We were surprised about the level of grip, but we also knew [it would be poor] because when we did the test that was the reality after the changes made to the circuit," said Dovizioso.

"The changes affected our bikes more. You can see that easily because all the Ducatis are in a group and the other bikes are in a different group.

"But the race pace is closer [to the front-runners]. If we make a good start, I believe we can have a say in the matter because the race is particularly long."


THE GRID

1. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha)
2. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)
3. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha)
4. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha)
5. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda)
6. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati)
7. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha)
8. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar)
9. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar)
10. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda)
11. Johann Zarco (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)
12. Michele Pirro (Ducati)

PREVIOUS WINNERS

2018: Andrea Dovizioso
2017: Marc Marquez
2016: Dani Pedrosa (for Honda)
2015: Marc Marquez

TITLE STANDINGS

Riders

1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) 250
2. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 172 (-78)
3. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) 149 (-101)
4. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati) 145 (-105)
5. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) 118 (-132)

Teams

1. Ducati 317
2. Repsol Honda 281 (-36)
3. Monster Energy Yamaha 234 (-83)
4. Suzuki Ecstar 192 (-125)
5. Petronas Yamaha 161 (-156)

WEATHER FORECAST

A dry, cloudy and humid race is expected on Sunday, with light winds. Temperatures should be warm, reaching the low to mid 20s (in Celsius).

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Chris Myson

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