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Brilliant Espargaro sets 2nd fastest lap-time at Misano

Red Bull KTM duo Pol Espargaro and Johann Zarco took part in a typically frantic Q2 session at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli for the GP Octo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini and the Spaniard managed his best qualification result yet on the KTM RC16. Espargaro will start the twenty-seven lap Italian race from the second slot on the grid.

MotoGP arrived on the Adriatic coast for round thirteen of the series and the first of a back-to-back stint with events in Italy and then Spain. Hot conditions greeted the Red Bull KTM teams less than two weeks after the squads and the rest of the MotoGP paddock used the flat and compact venue for private testing.

Pol Espargaro took full profit of that previous mileage at Misano to immediately start circulating among the leading times during Free Practice. He established direct Q2 entry and then shrewdly clocked his fiercest effort in the last minute of the session to briefly hold Pole Position. He was relegated to 2nd by Maverick Viñales by less than three tenths of a second as the clocked ticked down to zero but the classification was still another milestone for the fledgling MotoGP project.

On his fifth and final attempt in Q1 Zarco broke the timing beam to log the best effort and make Q2 for just the second time in 2019. The Frenchman took his place with the ten quickest racers from the initial Free Practice sessions. He ended the fifteen-minute chrono in 8th and will start the 27 lap sprint tomorrow afternoon in 11th after application of a three-position penalty from Silverstone.

Red Bull KTM Tech3’s Miguel Oliveira was hunting around the top ten in FP3 but could not trouble the top of the Q1 standings with his weakened right shoulder and rested 19th. Teammate Hafizh Syahrin was just under two tenths of a second behind the Portuguese.

Pol Espargaro: “It is amazing to be here. I want to take this moment to thank all the people that made the bike work so good here because I think to be faster today would be impossible. Thanks to those that give all the hours, effort and sweat. Hopefully we can keep on improving as we are doing. I feel good and I had the help of Maverick this morning to do the lap-time. I discovered that I could do something like that. I was surprised but anyway what matters is tomorrow’s race. For sure we need to be realistic but I will have the best views of my life tomorrow and I will enjoy it at the beginning of the race for sure.”

Johann Zarco: “I’m satisfied. The condition of the track generally was better. The possibility to go straight into Q2 was there and I missed it by nothing. I was frustrated because I know Q1 is a tough job. Anyway I managed to do one lap and it was a great job. Super job from Pol; nice lap. He will be there in front so if can keep him in my view it means I can have a very good race. Top ten is my target and I want to feel good from beginning to the end. I want to fight and overtake riders and keep the pace.”

Miguel Oliveira: “This Saturday started very good for us as we were quite fast in the third Free Practice. But in Qualifying I was struggling a lot with rear grip. We made a few changes on the rear end of the bike that didn’t work 100 percent. Anyway, this weekend was really without any expectations, so I’m just keen on doing a good start tomorrow and hopefully finishing inside the points.”

Hafizh Syahrin: “Finally, we managed to improve our lap time slightly but we were still missing a bit of lean angle in turning. Tomorrow morning, we will try to choose the best tyre for the race distance. I will try to do my best as the race is going to be very long and hot, so we will see. As always and my target is to do better than in Silverstone last time out.”

Pit Beirer, KTM Motorsports Director: “It has been a tough journey so far in this project but nothing that we did not expect. To get a highlight like this is just super-nice for all the people that work really hard. It proves we are going the right way and that front row is not based on one lucky lap. We had quite a few fast ones since Friday morning. Dry conditions and a tough track with low grip: all the difficult ingredients are there and we could still be in this position both with Pol and Johann in eighth position. It’s a fantastic day for our whole team and the factory.”

Moto2 & Moto3

Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Brad Binder was 16th in Moto2 qualification and seven places behind the impressive Marco Bezzecchi at the Red Bull KTM Tech3 rider’s home event. In Moto3 a crash by Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Can Öncü resulted in a broken collarbone for the luckless rookie and the team were able top draft in the Turk’s twin Deniz at late notice. The top KTM runner in the class was world championship contender Aron Canet, who took his Sterilgarda machine to second place in Q2.

Races: September 15th, 2019 – Moto3 11.00 | Moto2 12.20 | MotoGP 14.00 CET

Results Qualifying MotoGP Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli 2019

1. Maverick Viñales (ESP), Yamaha 1:32.265
2. Pol Espargaro (ESP), Red Bull KTM +0.295
3. Fabio Quartararo (FRA), Yamaha +0.306
4. Franco Morbidelli (ITA), Yamaha +0.445
5. Marc Marquez (ESP), Honda +0.477
11. Johann Zarco (FRA), Red Bull KTM +0.858
19. Miguel Oliveira (POR), Red Bull KTM Tech3 1:34.162 (Q1)
20. Hafizh Syahrin (MYS), Red Bull KTM Tech3 1:34.322 (Q1)

Results Qualifying Moto2 Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli 2019

1. Fabio Di Giannantonio (ITA) Speed Up 1:37.481
2. Alex Marquez (ESP) Kalex +0.137
3. Augusto Fernandez (ESP) Kalex +0.164
9. Marco Bezzecchi (ITA) Red Bull KTM Tech3 +0.454
16. Brad Binder (RSA) Red Bull KTM Ajo +0.730
17. Jorge Martin (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo +0.742 (Q1)

Results Qualifying Moto3 Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli 2019

1. Tatsuki Suzuki (JPN) Honda 1:42.844
2. Aron Canet (ESP) KTM +0.121
3. Tony Arbolino (ITA) Honda +0.127
23. Deniz Öncü (TUR) Red Bull KTM Ajo (Q1) 1:43.963