Tomorrow’s Moto2 race is another historic moment for Honda, the last race in which the class will use Honda CBR600 engines. Honda has supplied CBR600 engines since the category’s inaugural 2010 season. Since then the engines have covered a remarkable 2.8 million kilometers (1.7 million miles), enough for more than three return trips to the moon!
The man who will start this milestone race from pole position is Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46 Kalex), half brother of seven-times MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi. Marini is on fine form at the moment – he won his first Grand Prix victory in Malaysia. However, he is concerned about the weather forecast, with more rain expected tomorrow, because although he was fastest in dry qualifying, he had a much more difficult time in wet practice.
The 21-year-old Italian will be joined on the front row by 21-year-old Spaniard Xavi Vierge (Dynavolt Intact GP Kalex) and 25-year-old German Marcel Schrotter (Dynavolt Intact GP Kalex). The trio are separated by just 0.168 seconds.
The session was as closely fought as always, largely thanks to the equalising performance of the identically prepared CBR600 engines, with less than a second covering the fastest 21 qualifiers.
Twenty-one-year-old Italian Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46 Kalex), who made sure of the world title in Malaysia, was fourth fastest, just ahead of compatriot Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP40 Kalex) and Briton Sam Lowes (Swiss Innovative Investors KTM).
Rookie of the year and 2017 Moto3 World Champion Joan Mir (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex) leads the third row ahead of eighth-quickest Augusto Fernandez (Pons HP40 Kalex) and ninth-quickest Fabio Quartararo (HDR Heidrun – Speed Up Speed Up).
The top ten is completed by World Championship runner-up and Valencia 2017 Moto2 winner Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM), who ended the day just ahead of team-mate Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM).