Zarco difficult to catch as he takes pole in Moto 2

Zarco difficult to catch as he takes pole in Moto 2

Zarco sets the standards high as he claims pole position in Misano, leaving the rest of the field trailing behind. His championship rivals can only watch on, as he will start from the front row during the race tomorrow.

Lucy Hayne

Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) put in an early fast lap which saw him take pole position at the San Marino GP, during the Moto 2 class.

As the rest of the field tried to catch his time, they were no match and Zarco was able to hold onto the position from start to finish. His championship rivals Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) and Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40) missed out on the front row as Lowes took fourth, and Rins was in eighth.

Riders were able to prepare their tyres in FP3

The track temperature had risen considerably since the morning when approaching the Free Practice Three. Already it was sitting at 34 degrees, in comparison to the 24 degrees for the Moto3 boys. Riders were quick to head out on track and adjust to the change, and get ready for their qualifying session.

The session began with Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP) losing the front end into turn eight, resulting in a small crash. Whilst he recovered, the rest of the field started to cruise around the track getting a good feel of their tyres. It was Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) who was first to the top, with 1:38.799. This was quickly overtaken by Thomas Luthi (Garage Plus Interwetten), but at this point Morbidelli was on yet another quick lap.

As expected Morbidelli regained the top spot with 1:38.179, but this was still 0.0442 seconds off of yesterday’s quickest time set by Takaaki Nakagami (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia). With still 33 minutes left of the session, the Italian continued to improve, but the likes of Zarco, Luthi, and Nakagami were close behind.

Halfway through the session riders disappeared into the pits

Half way through the session it went relatively quiet as riders headed into their pit boxes. Meanwhile, Axel Pons (AGR Team) had a lap time cancelled due to exceeding track limits at turn six. Xavier Simeon (QMMF Racing Team) also had a fall at turn 10 with around 33 minutes to go, the same corner we saw Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) go down at yesterday in Moto GP.

With 20 minutes left on the clock, the sound of bikes refilled the track. Just as Lowes reappeared, he had a crash at turn 10, a turn that seems to be popular with falls. A fall also occurred for Rattahapark Wilairot (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia) at turn eight.

Nakagami has shown form and finished on the front row | Photo: Giuseppe Cacac/AFP/Getty Images
Nakagami has shown form and finished on the front row | Photo: Giuseppe Cacac/AFP/Getty Images

Laps were continuously cancelled due to exceeding limits

As the bikes were back out, the amount of lap cancellations were coming in by the dozen. They were all for exceeding track limits at either turn six or 11 and riders included, Remy Gardner (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2), Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS), Xavi Vierge (Tech 3 Racing), Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40), Lorenzo Baldassari (Forward Team) and Morbidelli.

It was a final minute push from Rins and Nakagami

With around four minutes to go, Nakagami was pulling out all the shots to try and put himself back in first place. The times were incredibly tight between himself, who was in third 0.026 seconds behind, Zarco in second 0.013 seconds off and then Morbidelli in first.

As Rins went out to push for a final lap, he dumped it at turn 10 almost holding on, but ended up sliding off track. This gave Nakagami the opportunity to push one last time, and it worked, because he finished the session fastest once again with 1:37.908.

Baldassarri was determined to be at the front in qualifying

Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Team) kick started the qualifying session by shooting straight to the provisional pole with 1:38.177. But as soon as you blinked, Zarco was up there with a 1:38.131, shortly followed by Folger with 1:38.110. Baldassarri wasn’t going to give up that easy, as he quickly went back to the top, but we all knew this was only the beginning.

Just as Zarco took back over at the top with the fastest time of the weekend so far with 1:37.464, Lowes popped into third place. As Gardner took a tumble at turn one, Zarco dominated the track to improve yet again with a time of 1:37.436.

A flat tyre caused Lucuona’s bike to slowly limp off track

Iker Lucuona (CarXPert Interwetten) suffered a flat tyre whilst out on track, sending him back down pit lane to collect a new set. At this point Nakagami went on a flyer to put him on the front row, in third with 22 minutes left to go. After losing a lap time due to exceeding track limits, things were looking concerning for Rins as he sat lurking in 16th place. He also went into a bend too hot, causing him to steer off-track.

He did then slowly start to improve as he worked his way up the sheet, and with 17 minutes left to go, he was in 10th. After his strong start to the weekend Morbidelli was also looking to progress his timings, and he was also seen to be crawling up the positions. He moved into sixth at this point with 1:37.994.

Morbidelli was seen to on the limit as he was pulling out all the stops to try and get on that front row. He unfortunately messed up his quick laps, seeing him make no improvement from sixth. But we were now into the final five minutes, and all the teams were out on track with one target in mind, to catch Zarco.

Rins suffered a difficult weekend and finished in eighth | Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP/Getty Images
Rins suffered a difficult weekend and finished in eighth | Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP/Getty Images

Constant mistakes from riders saw Zarco hold onto pole

Lowes was seen to be on an impressive lap to try and improve on his fourth position, but he made a mistake which saw him put his lap on hold. Rins continued to sneak up the chart and was now in a safe eighth place with just two minutes to spare. With Zarco unable to beat his own time, this gave Baldassarri the chance to put in one last flying lap. But he wasn’t alone, as Nakagami was also showing fast sector times. When they crossed the line, Nakagami pinched second place which saw Balassarri pushed back to third.

They did have one last lap as the chequered flag was waved, but no improvements were made. This saw Zarco take pole position after hanging onto his fast lap that he set earlier on. Lowes was seen to be waving his arms in disappointment as he crossed the line, showing that he had a difficult session, but was still able to finish in fourth.

Moto 2 qualifying results
Position Rider Nationality Time Team Bike
1 5 Johann Zarco FRA 1:37.436 Ajo Motorsport Kalex
2 30 Takaaki Nakagami JPN 1:37.509 IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex
3 7 Lorenzo Baldassari ITA 1:37.550 Forward Team Kalex
4 22 Sam Lowes GBR 1:37.777 Federal Oil Gresini Moto2  Kalex
5 21 Franco Morbidelli ITA 1:37.861 Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex
6 12 Thomas Luthi SWI 1:37.916 Garage Plus Interwetten Kalex
7 11 Sandro Cortese GER 1:37.933 Dynavolt Intact GP Kalex
8 40 Alex Rins SPA 1:37.935 Paginas Amarillas HP 40  Kalex
9 54 Mattia Pasini ITA 1:37.990 Italtrans Racing Team Kalex
10 55 Hafizh Syahrin MAL 1:38.035 Petronas Raceline Malaysia  Kalex
11 94 Jonas Folger GER 1:38.044 Dynavolt Intact GP Kalex
12 73 Alex Marquez SPA 1:38.051 Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex
13 23 Marcel Schrotter GER 1:38.105 AGR Team Kalex
14 60 Julian Simon SPA 1:38.243 QMMF Racing Team Speed Up
15 52 Danny Kent GBR 1:38.308 Leopard Racing Kalex
16 49 Axel Pons SPA 1:38.339 AGR Team Kalex
17 24 Simone Corsi ITA 1:38.345 Speed Up Racing Speed Up
18 14 Ratthapark Wilairot THA 1:38.655 IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex
19 19 Xavier Simeon BEL 1:38.706 QMMF Racing Team Speed Up
20 57 Edgar Pons SPA 1:38.808 Paginas Amarillas HP 40 Kalex
21 10 Luca Marini ITA 1:38.857 Forward Team Kalex
22 44 Miguel Oliveira POR 1:38.885 Leopard Team Kalex
23 2 Jesko Raffin SWI 1:38.912 Sports-Millions-EMWE-SAG Kalex
24 27 Iker Lecuona SPA 1:38.983 CarXPert Interwetten Kalex
25 97 Xavi Vierge  SPA 1:39.006 Tech 3 Racing Tech 3
26 32 Isaac  Vinales SPA 1:39.160 Tech 3 Racing Tech 3
27 42 Federico Fuligni  ITA 1:39.240 Team Ciatti Kalex
28 87 Remy Gardner AUS 1:39.257 Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2 Kalex
29 70 Robin Mulhauser  SWI 1:39.555 CarXPert Interwetten Kalex