Movistar Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi has taken his first MotoGP pole position in four years this afternoon at Valencia, grabbing a tow from team-mate Jorge Lorenzo on their last flying laps while Marc Marquez crashed for the second time today.
It was Rossi 50th pole and taken after The Doctor had struggled, comparatively, all weekend but found some pace in third practice to haul himself to within four tenths. He was last on pole at Le Mans in 2010 and joked: “That pole was seen on black and white television”.
Rossi’s final run in qualifying two saw him follow Lorenzo on their last effort and take pole away from countryman Andrea Iannone by less than a tenth with a 1’30.843.
Lorenzo was all set for the front row, and even went into parc ferme, but he was toppled by Dani Pedrosa who was the third and final rider into the 1’30s while his team-mate Marc Marquez had to watch from the garage.
The reigning champion lost the front at turn four for the second time today as he went through the first set of rights on a new tyre and went down in the same place as he did in free practice three earlier on.
Pol Espargaro occupied the final spot on the second row, just edging out team-mate Bradley Smith, who was just four-tenths off Rossi’s pace. Cal Crutchlow was eighth with Andrea Dovizioso ninth and Stefan Bradl, who led early doors, in tenth place.
Scott Redding upped his game to finish in 14th place, two places ahead of Nicky Hayden with Michael Laverty in 22nd.