A year since the death of the death of the late Luis Salom, whose Moto2 career came to a sad and unfortunate end during an incident in Free Practice whilst preparing for the Catalunya Moto2 race in 2016, the Moto2 class were again together preparing for the a weekend of racing, this time in Italy; riders paid their own tributes to their fallen rider.
Glorious weather for a special weekend in Mugello
The sun was shining in Florence, Italy, and immediately when the final Free Practice session got underway at the Autodromo del Mugello for the 600cc class, riders were starting to improve on their times from the opening day of Free Practice for the Moto2 class ahead of the sixth round of the season.
Franco Morbidelli returned to the top of the timesheets after a few minutes, having crashed on the opening day and remained the man to beat for a short while. Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team), who is hoping to do well and maybe even collect his first Moto2 victory on home turf was second behind him as things settled down.
Trouble for Aegerter
Within minutes of the session getting underway, smoke was seen coming from the rear of Dominique Aegerter’s (Kiefer Racing) Kalex. The Swiss rider immediately came off line and returned to the pits,- where the team set about getting his one bike back out on track quickly do he could continue on with practice. They were also seen cleaning up outside his garage where he had dripped.
Another Italian, Simone Corsi (Speed Up Racing) then made his presence felt when he went quickest with a low 1:52 minute lap. Further on into the session however, Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) improved ever so slightly forcing him down to second.
Pasini returns to the top
Then, Pasini returned to the track and a short while later was able to reclaim the top spot. After a short return to the pits were he made his final changes, he then set about improving on his own time proving successful with four minutes of the last Free Practice session to go, as he set a quickest time of 1:52.011.
Everything the Italian does is always going to be that more amazing than others, as he remains so competitive at this level as the only rider who uses his left hand to control both the clutch and the front brake because of an injury early on in his career that saw his right arm be left weaker.
Pasini went on to finish the session on top of the timesheets ahead of Nakagami and Corsi in second and third respectively. Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS teammates, Morbidelli and Marquez were fourth and fifth ahead of Xavi Vierge (Tech 3 Racing) who was sixth during the session.
Increase in temperature ahead of Qualifying
Temperatures had increased in time for Qualifying meaning that adhesion was possibly lowered and that riders may be caught out by what could potentially feel like greasy conditions. Within minutes of the Qualifying session getting underway, rookie, Bagnaia crashed out of turn 12 of the Italian circuit in front of his home fans.
He slid out of action as he exited the corner and both he and the bike slid into the gravel. However, he very quickly recovered and instead of returning to the pits, he chose to remain on track and continue pushing. Amazingly, he went on to jump up to fifth on the timesheets temporarily. A little later on, he did return where they were able to check things over and clean things up.
Vierge visits medical centre after turn 12 crash
Then, less fortunately for Xavi Vierge (Tech 3 Racing), he dropped his bike at the same corner. He slid out just further round, but instead of getting back up to his feet, he was only able to crawl to the side of the track where he then collapsed back down onto his back. As the Marshalls recovered his bike, Vierge was taken to the medical centre where he underwent a check-up as he was clearly in pain.
Marquez dominated the top of the timesheets
Meanwhile, in regards to the timesheets, it was Marquez who was quickest at the start of the session and he set a time of 1:57.715 that was enough to keep him at the top of the timesheets before the final surge in the last 10 minutes. Thomas Luthi (CarXpert Interwetten) was second and Morbidelli was third ahead of Nakagami and Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Racing).
Pressure increased for final 10 minutes
As they began the final 10 minutes of Qualifying, both Morbidelli and Pasini were pushing hard. Their work paid off and a few minutes later, they managed to move up to second and third respectively, potentially claiming a front row start for themselves.
Pasini was consistently improving and was being pursued by former MotoGP rider, Yonny Hernandez (AGR Team) who was in the process of completing a personal best to potentially place him ahead of Morbidelli. He was successful closing the gap between he and Marquez to just 0.043 seconds.
Gardner’s day ends early in Mugello
Remy Gardner’s (Tech3 Racing) day came to an early end as he crashed out of turn four with minutes to go. Already injured, he was quickly able to get back up to his feet, but seeing the state his bike was left in in the gravel, he knew it was game over.
It seemed like it was over for everyone regarding the times as no one was lapping significantly quicker, or quick enough to challenge Marquez at the top. Then a surprise lap from Morbidelli, who was displaying grey on the first two sectors, improved to a personal best through sector three, and then pulled it out of the bag and stole pole in sector four as he crossed the line with a time of 1:51.679.
Morbidelli on pole for home round in Mugello
It meant that Morbidelli would lead the front row ahead of Marquez who was expecting pole, but who will instead start from second on the grid. Pasini had done enough to secure a front row start making it two Italians on the front row for the sixth round in Mugello.
Luthi will lead the second row from fourth on the grid ahead of Nakagami and Luca Marini (Forward Racing Team) who crashed on day one. Rookie, Jorge Navarro (Federal Oil Racing Team Gresini) claimed a fantastic seventh on the grid ahead of Baldassarri in eighth. They will be joined by Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) on the third row in ninth.
Simone Corsi (Speed Up Racing) is the top Speed Up rider in 10th of the grid and despite his crash, Gardner will start from 11th. Returning to the Moto2, after parting ways with Kiefer Racing and making a wildcard appearance in the Moto3 at the previous round in Le Mans with Red Bull KTM Ajo, British rider Danny Kent is stepping in for injured Iker Lecuona with the Garage Plus Interwetten team, and qualified an extraordinary 12th on the grid ahead of the sixth round in Mugello.