Magnificent Morbidelli snatches home pole in Mugello
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders Franco Morbidelli and Álex Márquez were the undoubted stars of the show in today’s Moto2 qualifying session at the spectacular Mugello track in Italy.
Morbidelli sent his sun-drenched home crowd into raptures in a thrilling climax to a tense 45-minute qualifying session when he powered his Kalex machine to a brilliant final lap of 1’51.679 to snatch his third pole position of 2017.
The Italian produced a sensational final sector on his last lap that was almost as hot as the ambient and track temperature, with Dunlop measuring the surface heat at a sizzling 55 degrees during qualifying.
Morbidelli recovered over 0.3s alone in the fourth sector with a perfectly judged slipstream behind Yonny Hernandez to deny teammate Márquez the chance to claim his second pole position in the last three races.
Márquez looked well set to take top spot when he fired in a stunning early lap of 1’51.715 that kept him at the top of the standings until Morbidelli’s late heroics.
Márquez though was still delighted to secure his fifth front row start in six races this season, with Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS celebrating its third qualifying 1-2 of a dominant 2017 campaign.
Despite missing out on pole position by just 0.036s, Márquez is confident he can battle Morbidelli for the win in what is anticipated to be the first 100,000 plus crowd for the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello tomorrow.
Franco Morbidelli: 1st – 1’51.679
“It feels fantastic to be on pole position in front of my home crowd and the atmosphere today was incredible. I got the perfect drive coming out of the last corner to get in behind Hernandez and I am so happy it was enough to take pole position on a track where I’ve never been strong in the past. Tomorrow is when we fight for points and I must stay calm because 21-laps in these hot conditions will be very difficult. But it would mean a lot for me to win here in Mugello. The crowd have really got behind me and it would be brilliant to reward their support with a victory. It would be amazing but I have to keep in mind that the World Championship is very important and I can’t take silly risks just to win at home.”
Álex Márquez: 2nd – 1’51.715
“I am happy to be on the front row again and it was very close to being pole position. I think we made the perfect strategy to attack in the first laps and I’m happy because my best lap was done all on my own. I knew even after only three laps when I did my best time that the only way my time could be beaten would be with the help of a slipstream and that’s what happened. Second is still a good result but I am expecting a hard race for both the body and the bike. It will be physically demanding in the hot conditions and we need to pay attention to the tyres because in the heat the grip is not so easy to find. But I am confident I can fight for the win in the home of my teammate!”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“Today’s qualifying session was totally dominated by Marc VDS again and it is a great feeling to have another 1-2 in very demanding conditions. It was very hot today and very challenging for Franco and Álex, but they both rose to the challenge brilliantly. Franco got a good slipstream in the last seconds to take pole position but Álex deserves a lot of credit because he threw down the challenge to the rest of the field very early on and it was almost rewarded with pole position. We can go into the race tomorrow optimistic that they can have a nice battle together. We are undefeated so far in 2017 and I hope that amazing record continues for a sixth race in a row.”