Defending Champion Francesco “Pecco” Bagnaia earned pole position during MotoGP qualifying Saturday at the Mugello Circuit, in Italy. Riding his Lenovo Ducati Desmosedici, Bagnaia lapped the 3.2-mile (5.2 km) track in 1:44.855, which eclipsed Fabio Quartararo’s 2021 All-Time Lap Record of 1:45.187.
Earning the other two spots on the front row were Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez (1:44.933) and his younger brother Alex Marquez (1:45.007), who rode a Gresini Ducati.
More, from a press release issued by Dorna:
Bagnaia vs Marquez heats up! Pole decided by 0.078 after close Q2 showdown at Mugello
Less than a tenth of a second and one lengthy on-track debate decides pole in favour of Pecco, with MM93 second and Alex Marquez third fastest
Saturday, 10 June 2023
Another Saturday, another stunning Q2… and another portion of spice for the history books! At the Gran Premio d’Italia Oakley, Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) has beaten Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) to pole by another tiny margin, this time 0.078, and the two once again exchanged some words as the number 93 slotted in behind the reigning World Champion on track. In Q2, Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) was third fastest despite having come through Q1, grabbing a front row for the Tissot Sprint right at the end, but he’ll serve his 3-place grid penalty on Sunday… bumping Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) up to a front row for the Grand Prix race.
As ever, there were some big names in Q1 looking for a spot in the top ten shootout, including Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™), Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) and Alex Marquez. The number 73 set the benchmark early on and no one could get close – but it was a tense finale for the rest fighting over that second chance to move through.
Initially it was held by Viñales before a late lap from Miller saw the Aussie steal it, but both the number 12 and Quartararo were still out there giving it one last shot. Viñales was close in the first two sectors before his time started to fade, and Quartararo the opposite as he started out of touch, got within two tenths, and then lost out over the line. So that was that: Alex Marquez led Miller through, Viñales loses out, and Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) pips teammate Quartararo to P14.
Early on, Enea Bastianini (Ducati Lenovo Team) was on a race to get back out after a crash, and Marc Marquez was making friends with a tow, this time slotted in behind Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) as they went to the top. Next, Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) took over on provisional pole and the stage was set for a fairly shot at the top.
Then the fireworks really started. Marc Marquez came out of pitlane behind Bezzecchi but at a distance… and Bagnaia was heading down the main straight. As he headed round Turn 1 and saw the Repsol Honda ahead, the Italian immediately started gesticulating. He moved alongside the Honda and did the same, with Marquez not going anywhere, and then Pecco put the hammer down. The number 93 followed and the two shot off round Mugello.
That lap was a different kind of fireworks, with Pecco setting a new lap record and laying down the gauntlet, ignoring the Honda on his tail. Could Marquez do what he did in Portugal and nearly did in France, pipping the reigning World Champion at the post? Not this time. As the Repsol Honda crossed the line, it was into second place… by just 0.078. And what a show!
It wasn’t over there as Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) shot up into third, and Alex Marquez was on the move. The number 73 just shuffled his fellow Q1 graduate off the front row, and that seemed a wrap. Even after the session, however, came a change. After reviewing a suspected track limits infraction for Marini at Turn 5 that had seen the Italian’s lap cancelled, it was later reinstated – putting him fourth in the session.
That makes it Bagnaia – Marquez, Marc – Marquez, Alex fronting the grid for the Tissot Sprint at Mugello, with Marini at the head of Row 2. The Italian has Miller and Martin alongside on Saturday.
On Sunday, however, Alex Marquez has a 3-place grid penalty given in Le Mans, so the Grand Prix race grid will be Bagnaia, Marc Marquez and Marini on the front row, and Miller, Martin and Alex Marquez on Row 2.
Bezzecchi therefore heads up Row 3, joined by Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) as he rode through the pain barrier into P8, just ahead of Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) and Alex Rins (LCR Honda Castrol). Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), after a crash at Turn 11, will start 11th, looking for some immediate progress off the line. Bastianini rounds out Q2 as he couldn’t move up the order after that early crash.