While 12 riders made it out into Q1 at the Thailand GP there were really only a handful in the battle for the final two slots in Q2 and a chance to really improve their position on the grid.
That group included Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci, LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow, and KTM-mounted Pol Espargaro. While that trio were close in times there was a clear gap to the chasing pack.
In the end it would be Petrucci and Espargaro who’d prevail and advance to Q2, edging Crutchlow out of that opportunity by an agonizing 0.013 seconds. Espargaro’s efforts were impressive given the rider is currently maimed. The KTM rider broke his wrist and had to have it plated after a crash during practice in Aragon.
All three riders set quicker times than the bottom four who were already locked into the Thailand GP Q2, which could be ominous for later on Saturday afternoon.
Outside the battle for a start in the final qualifying session the group was encouragingly close. Takaaki Nakagami will start 14th behind Cal Cruthlow on Sunday in Thailand, and his 1m31.388s lap was just 0.591s quicker than Hafizh Syahrin in last place. Mika Kallio will start his Thai MotoGP in 21st aboard the KTM he took over from Johann Zarco in Aragon.
After heroics in the wet FP3 session Karel Abraham could only manage to qualify in 20th on his Ducati, one spot behind Jorge Lorenzo whose position is more encouraging than it looks. That time, a 1m31.605 puts Lorenzo within a second of the times set so far in the weekend by Marquez, and just 1.2 seconds behind the quickest time set by Fabio Quartararo. Slowly but surely, the former world champ is closing the gap back to the front runners after his injury-induced hiatus.
Francesco Bagnaia might have been more of a contender on his Pramac Racing Ducati were it not for an awkward and violent lowside halfway through the session.
In the dying minute Crutchlow pushed for one last crack at jumping ahead of Espargaro and Petrucci but couldn’t quite execute. The Briton was lucky to stay on the bike, pushing deep into the final corner under brakes and getting the Castrol LCR Honda completely out of shape in his efforts to advance.
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Written by: Jacob Black
|1||9||Danilo Petrucci||ITA||Ducati Team||Ducati||327.2||1’30.685|
|2||44||Pol Espargaro||SPA||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||325.3||1’30.956||0.271 / 0.271|
|3||35||Cal Crutchlow||GBR||LCR Honda CASTROL||Honda||329.2||1’30.969||0.284 / 0.013|
|4||30||Takaaki Nakagami||JPN||LCR Honda IDEMITSU||Honda||323.3||1’31.388||0.703 / 0.419|
|5||63||Francesco Bagnaia||ITA||Pramac Racing||Ducati||324.3||1’31.416||0.731 / 0.028|
|6||29||Andrea Iannone||ITA||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia||323.3||1’31.428||0.743 / 0.012|
|7||88||Miguel Oliveira||POR||Red Bull KTM Tech 3||KTM||320.4||1’31.499||0.814 / 0.071|
|8||53||Tito Rabat||SPA||Reale Avintia Racing||Ducati||328.2||1’31.554||0.869 / 0.055|
|9||99||Jorge Lorenzo||SPA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||327.2||1’31.605||0.920 / 0.051|
|10||17||Karel Abraham||CZE||Reale Avintia Racing||Ducati||328.2||1’31.773||1.088 / 0.168|
|11||82||Mika Kallio||FIN||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||321.4||1’31.849||1.164 / 0.076|
|12||55||Hafizh Syahrin||MAL||Red Bull KTM Tech 3||KTM||319.5||1’31.979||1.294 / 0.130|
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