2018 Motegi MotoGP Qualifying Results and Coverage
Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso took his third career Twin Ring Motegi MotoGP pole, besting Monster Energy Tech 3 Yamaha racer Johann Zarco by 0.068 seconds. Alma Pramac Racing’s Jack Miller held pole position on his year-old Ducati shortly before settling on the front row in third position. All three riders put in their fastest time on their seventh lap in Q2.
Expectations were that it would take a time in the 1:44s to take pole position. Cal Crutchlow was the first rider to dip into the 1:44s with a 1:44.820 on his sixth qualifying lap of seven. However, that was only good enough for the second row, as Crutchlow qualified fourth.
Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Andrea Iannone was a late arrival to the second row, as his 1:44.832 came on his final of eight qualifying laps. That bumped MotoGP World Champion and 2018 series leader Marc Márquez back to the final spot on row two for his Repsol Honda Team RC213V.
Márquez’ 1:44.889 meant that all the riders on first two rows put in a sub-1:45 lap. Márquez looked like a possibility to move back into the pole position, which he held earlier in Q2, but an error on his final lap prohibited him from challenging for the front row.
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP teammates Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi will surround Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins on row 3 on the Motegi Twin Ring. Rossi peaked early, with his fastest lap coming on his third go-’round. Rossi was on pole very early in qualifying, before being shuffled back to ninth place.
Neither Viñales nor Rins were ever in the hunt, with both over a half-second behind Dovizioso. Viñales’ Yamaha did show some serious top speed, tying for second-fastest top speed at 308.2 km/h behind Dovizioso’s 309.8 km/h highest velocity.
Bautista showed some early speed on his Angel Nieto Team Ducati, but could not compete as the lap times decreased during the second session of Q2. Bautista, who was a late Q1 transfer, could only manage 10th on the grid. That was one spot ahead of a struggling Dani Pedrosa, who was nearly a second behind Dovizioso on his Repsol Honda Team machine. Q1 qualifier and hometown hero Takaaki Nakagami couldn’t manage to best his Q1 time on his LCR Honda Idemitsu race bike, and was 1.578 seconds behind the leader.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Bradley Smith was pipped from Q2 at the end of the session by Bautista, and will start from row five with teammate Pol Espargaró and Alma Prama Racing’s Danilo Petrucci. Petrucci looked to be on his way to Q2, but made an error midway on his final qualifying lap and didn’t proceed.
BeIN live television coverage of the Japanese Grand Prix begins at 10:30 p.m. ET on Saturday.
2018 Motegi MotoGP Qualifying Results
1. Andrea Dovizioso, Ducati; 1:44.590
2. Johann Zarco, Yamaha; +0.068
3. Jack Miller, Ducati; +0.137
4. Cal Crutchlow, Honda; +0.230
5. Andrea Iannone, Suzuki; +0.242
6. Marc Márquez, Honda; +0.299
7. Maverick Viñales, Yamaha; +0.550
8. Alex Rins, Suzuki; +0.635
9. Valentino Rossi, Yamaha; +0.675
10. Alvaro Bautista, Ducati; +0.806
11. Dani Pedrosa, Honda; +0.929
12. Takaaki Nakagami, Honda; +1.578
13. Bradley Smith, KTM
14. Pol Espargaró, KTM
15. Danilo Petrucci, Ducati
16. Hafizh Syahrin, Yamaha
17. Franco Morbidelli, Honda
18. Karel Abraham, Ducati
19. Aleix Espargaró, Aprilia
20. Katsuyuki Nakasuga, Yamaha
21. Scott Redding, Aprilia
22. Xavier Simeon, Ducati
23. Thomas Luthi, Honda
24. Sylvan Guintoli, Suzuki
25. Jordi Torres, Ducati