Following a torrential downpour of rain of several inches of water in a short period, additional lightning strikes caused several hours of delays. FP3 practices were cancelled and the first bikes out were the Moto3 riders for their qualifying laps.
Moto3: Niccolo Antonelli (23) with team SIC58 Squadra Corse set the fastest lap at 2:31.346 with a top speed of 222.9 KPH (137 MPH). This will be his first pole of the season and since his last start in pole in Qatar in 2018. However, more notably was the performance by a rookie coming up in second in qualifying; Raul Fernandez (25) with the Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team, was only .500 slower with a time of 2:21.847 and nearly the same top speed. This will Fernandez’s first front-row start in his career in Moto3.
Moto2: Marcel Schrötter (23) of Dynavolt Intact GP will lead the Moto2 riders tomorrow after his best time of 2:10.875 at a 273.4 KPH (169 MPH) top speed. In practice, teammate Tom Lüthi (12) and Schrötter were working well together and placing in the top spots. However, Alex Marquez (73) of EG 0,0 Marc VDS snagged the second spot in the front row from Lüthi who ended up qualifying in fourth. Most importantly, keep your eyes peeled on the third starting rider tomorrow, Sam Lowes (22) of team Federal Oil Gresini Moto2, who set a time of 2:11.123 and may end up repeating his last year’s COTA win.
MotoGP: And of course, with very little surprise, COTA King Marc Marquez (93) of Respol Honda Team took the pole with a time of 2:03.787 at a blistering speed of 338.3 KPH (210 MPH) on a damp track.
But, Valentino Rossi (46) of Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP is CLOSE behind with a 2:04.060 and may dethrone the king tomorrow. Or, teammate Maverick Viñales (12) may do the work himself, especially after coming in second against Marquez last year at COTA.
Viñales will start in sixth after a slower qualifying time than expected, but he has shown in his past that carving up the chain isn’t something that has ever been difficult for him, especially with his sights set on Marquez.