Marc Marquez can clinch his sixth MotoGP world title this weekend at the Thailand Grand Prix.

The Spaniard needs to claim two points more than Andrea Dovizioso at the Chang International Circuit to capture the championship yet again.

Thailand's very brief history as a MotoGP circuit is on his side, with Marquez having won the only race at the track last year.

Here we look at the best Opta facts ahead of a potentially decisive race.

9 - Marquez has taken nine pole positions this season in MotoGP, his best tally in the top category since 2014 (13). 

9 - The Spaniard has recorded the fastest lap nine times in 2019, his best tally in MotoGP since 2014 (12).

19 - Excluding abandonments, Marquez has finished in first or second place in each of his last 19 races, his best such run in MotoGP.

17 - Since 2012, Spanish riders have won in 17 of the last 23 MotoGP races in Asia (Qatar, Malaysia, Japan and Thailand). 

7 - Dovizioso was second last year in the Thailand Grand Prix. The Italian rider has finished seven times on the podium this season and with three more he will set a new personal record in the top category (9 in 2018).

99 - Ducati's Dovizioso has finished on the podium 99 times in his career (all categories). Only three Italian riders have reached 100 podiums previously (Valentino Rossi, 234; Giacomo Agostini, 159 and Max Biaggi, 111).

1 - Danilo Petrucci is the only rider to collect points in every MotoGP race this season. His 155 points this season represent his record in his eight seasons in the top category. 

11 - Valentino Rossi has not finished on the podium in his last 11 MotoGP races, his second-worst run in the top category (16 Grands Prix in 2011 and 2012) and the worst he's managed with Yamaha. 

1 - Rossi has only finished on the podium in one of his last seven MotoGP races in Asia (3rd in the 2018 Qatar Grand Prix).

4 - Maverick Vinales has finished on the podium in four of his seven last MotoGP races but has finished on the podium in only three of his 14 MotoGP previous races in Asia, although one of them was at Chang International Circuit in Thailand (3rd in 2018).

Marc Marquez said he had enjoyed "a perfect weekend" as he moved to within touching distance of a sixth MotoGP title with victory at Aragon.

The Spaniard opened up a 98-point lead in the championship by triumphing in his 200th race, finishing comfortably clear of Andrea Dovizioso after the Ducati rider powered from 10th on the grid to second place.

It was Marquez's day, as it has been his season, and the Repsol Honda rider should wrap up the championship either in Thailand on October 6 or in Japan a fortnight later.

The defending champion had qualified fastest at MotorLand and few doubted he would motor to victory, with Marquez never looking vulnerable.

"I'm happy of course, happy about the way we finished as we can," Marquez said. "It was a perfect weekend."

"I was clever, I was convinced about my strategy during the race."

He pulled away steadily to win the race by 4.836 seconds from Dovizioso, who sits second in the season standings but has long been fighting to finish the year as runner-up."

"I pushed a lot in the beginning and then controlled the distance and took 25 points in a very good way," Marquez told the MotoGP official website. "It was the best way to finish the home Grand Prix.

"I was very comfortable. I was riding in a very good way. I felt everything of the bike. It was very nice to ride. I'm happy.

"In Thailand we will have the first 'match ball' so I will try, but I know that 'Dovi' will be very strong too."

With five races left, Marquez need not panic about when the title is clinched, given it is now a formality.

"The target in Thailand is to try to fight for the victory, like every weekend," he said. "I know that 'Dovi' will be strong but we will try to give 100 per cent, try to push from the beginning until the end of the weekend."

The 26-year-old added: "The championship is closer and closer but we'll keep going with the same mentality."

Dovizioso was satisfied with second, given he was unusually off the pace in qualifying.

"When I was on the grid and I was 10th, I saw too many riders in front of me and at the start everybody blocked me so I couldn't really gain a lot of position," said the 33-year-old Italian.

However, as others fell away, he began to motor through the field, achieving the satisfaction of having only Marquez ahead of him come the finish.

"[I'm] really happy because we needed that result, especially after the mistake in qualifying, for the championship, so I'm pretty happy," Dovizioso said.

"We knew we could be the second fastest in the championship, but in the last few races it was difficult so it's really important especially with the way we did it."

Marc Marquez enjoyed one of the most serene victories of his outstanding MotoGP career as he led from start to finish at the Aragon Grand Prix on Sunday.

The defending champion and season leader qualified fastest at Motorland and showed the speed of his Repsol Honda from the outset on race day.

Even at Turn 1, the rest of the front row could not get close to Marquez and he raced away to build a lead of more than second after one lap.

A significant response was immediately out of the question and Marquez simply had to negotiate the remaining 22 laps to wrap up a ludicrously simple triumph, inching towards another championship.

There was at least a notable tussle to join the outstanding champion on the podium, with Jack Miller, starting fourth, passing Maverick Vinales from the start and getting Fabio Quartararo at Turn 12 in the same lap.

Miller threatened to get clear but, unable to latch onto Marquez, soon found himself battling Vinales and Quartararo again and was passed by the former with a brave move up the outside.

Andrea Dovizioso had started in 10th but got himself back into contention and picked off Quartararo to go fourth, before getting Miller too.

Dovizioso worked hard to catch Vinales, finally doing so with two laps remaining to at least get as close as possible to imperious title rival Marquez.

And there was still time for Vinales' place on the podium to be snatched away entirely as Miller, so far back when passed by Dovizioso, recovered to get up to third with a smart move at Turn 1 on the final lap.

Elsewhere, Alex Rins had failed to make Q2 on Saturday and his aggressive efforts to make amends quickly landed him in trouble.

The Spaniard made swift progress up the grid but moved across Franco Morbidelli's line, making contact with the Italian and sending the pair off the track.

Rins came back in 18th and recovered some ground, yet he served the long lap penalty for his role in the incident, although still able to finish a respectable ninth.

TOP 10
1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda)
2. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati)
3. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing)
4. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha)
5. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha)
6. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda)
7. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team)
8. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha)
9. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar)
10. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda)

TITLE STANDINGS

Riders
1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) 300
2. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 202 (-98)
3. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) 156 (-144)
4. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati) 155 (-145)
5. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) 147 (-153)

Teams
1. Ducati 357
2. Repsol Honda 333 (-24)
3. Monster Energy Yamaha 284 (-73)
4. Suzuki Ecstar 209 (-148)
5. Petronas Yamaha 203 (-154)

WHAT'S NEXT?
There is a fortnight before the next race in Thailand, where Marquez could wrap up his sixth MotoGP world title.

Marc Marquez is "on another level" at the Aragon Grand Prix and Fabio Quartararo is not convinced he can deny the pole-sitter a second straight MotoGP victory.

Repsol Honda rider Marquez crashed during FP2 on Friday but was top of the pile in qualifying for the fifth time in the past six grands prix 24 hours later.

The Spaniard ended his longest winless streak of the season – just two races – at the San Marino Grand Prix last weekend by pipping Quartararo in a thrilling final-lap battle.

The rookie Petronas Yamaha rider will start next to Marquez on the grid on Sunday but thinks it unlikely that he will challenge for a first win of his career in Aragon.

"On qualifying I disconnected my brain on the last lap and try to make the best. We did it, and this is really positive because we know our bike is not the best on this track, but we really pushed her to the limit and made P2 and it was the best we could get today," said Quartararo, before discussing the chances of defeating Marquez.

"Everything is possible, but honestly he's on another level on this track. My main goal is to finish the race in a really good way, try to bring points home. I think we have the pace to finish in the top five and that's the goal."

Maverick Vinales joined Marquez and Quartararo on the front row of the grid, with Valentino Rossi taking sixth behind Jack Miller and Aleix Espargaro.

Monster Energy Yamaha rider Vinales suggested the race will be decided in the opening laps, but Marquez knows he cannot afford to let his concentration slip throughout.

"We showed a good performance all weekend. We worked really hard in FP4 and it was a good rhythm, I was able to be very fast during many laps," said Marquez.

"The main target was front row, but pole position was even better. I just have to concentrate on tomorrow, analyse everything and choose the best [tyre] compound.

"The key for the race is to be concentrated during all the laps, to be focused in our rhythm, understand the grip of the track and the tyres, understand the weather.

"Apart from these things we will work in our way, find the limit in our bike and keep pushing until the end."

 

'PERFECT' ESPARGARO FOLLOWS MARQUEZ

Another man full of praise for Marquez was Espargaro - so much so that he considered his ability to stick with the superstar for a stretch and qualify fifth "a perfect lap".

"I was already quite fast on my first run, then with the second tyre I was behind Maverick but, just before we started the last lap, Marquez overtook me," Espargaro said.

"I thought 'there's no way to follow him' because he's on another planet this weekend. But I was able to follow. I did a perfect lap."

It was a rare good day for Aprilia, with Espargaro's team-mate Andrea Iannone enjoying his best qualifying session of the season to come in 11th.

Espargaro added: "There's nothing to lose. Our season has been a disaster so far. I hope that I can do a good race.

"The most important thing for me is that, when I come back into the garage afterwards all the faces of my team, all the people around me are smiling because we need this.

"We need some positive energy in the garage ahead of the flyaway races because everybody is working hard yet the results aren't coming."

His brother Pol, at KTM, is not enjoying such a good week, though, as he potentially faces surgery on a wrist fracture that will keep him out of the race.

18th place for Mika Kallio on the #aragongp #motogp grid for the 23 lap race tomorrow at 13.00 as @polespargaro heads back to Barcelona for further check-ups on a left wrist fracture and perhaps surgery #KTM pic.twitter.com/JF2xf6zcaS

— KTM Factory Racing (@KTM_Racing) September 21, 2019  

THE GRID

1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda)
2. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha)
3. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha)
4. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing)
5. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team)
6. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha)
7. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda)
8. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha)
9. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar)
10. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati)
11. Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing Team)
12. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar)

PREVIOUS WINNERS

2018: Marc Marquez
2017: Marc Marquez
2016: Marc Marquez
2015: Jorge Lorenzo

TITLE STANDINGS

Riders

1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) 275
2. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 182 (-93)
3. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati) 151 (-124)
4. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) 149 (-126)
5. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) 134 (-141)

Teams

1. Ducati 333
2. Repsol Honda 308 (-25)
3. Monster Energy Yamaha 263 (-70)
4. Suzuki Ecstar 200 (-133)
5. Petronas Yamaha 192 (-141)

WEATHER FORECAST

A dry day is forecast, with conditions expected to be similar to qualifying - dry and with an air temperature in the mid 20s (degrees Celsius).

Marc Marquez's procession towards another MotoGP title looks set to continue at Aragon after he secured his ninth pole position of the season.

Marquez is 93 points clear of nearest rival Andrea Dovizioso at the top of the standings as he bids for a fourth straight championship - and there was no let-up in his performance during qualifying on Saturday.

The Repsol Honda superstar saw a dominant run of poles disrupted last week as he clashed with Valentino Rossi in qualifying at San Marino, but he has now run fastest heading into race day nine times this season - his most in a campaign since an outstanding 13 in 2014.

Marquez has recorded three consecutive wins at Aragon, too, and his time of one minute and 47.009 seconds makes him favourite to triumph again in what will be his 200th start.

He set the benchmark after a strong early showing from Maverick Vinales, although Fabio Quartararo - a qualifying expert - pushed hard late on.

Quartararo left his best lap for last and fell just 0.327 seconds short as he failed to match Marquez's pace over the final sector.

Further down the grid, there were contrasting results for the Espargaro brothers, with Pol suffering a wrist fracture and deemed unfit to ride as Aleix starred to sit in fifth.

Dovizioso's hopes of challenging Marquez this weekend took a hit as he came 10th in the second session.

Danilo Petrucci's slump continued, meanwhile, as he failed to even reach Q2. The Italian is third overall for 2019 but has not made the podium in the past six races, finishing a year-low 10th last time out in San Marino.

Jorge Lorenzo, who has been working his way back from injury, was way off in Q1, 20th overall.


PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda): 1:47.009
2. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha): +0.327s
3. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha): +0.463s
4. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing): +0.649s
5. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team): +0.724s
6. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha): +1.006s
7. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda): +1.313s
8. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha): +1.363s
9. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar): +1.449s
10. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati): +1.599s
11. Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing Team): +2.231s
12. Pol Espargaro (KTM)

Fabio Quartararo is hoping to build on the "best race" of his fledgling MotoGP career so far as he targets a maiden win at the Aragon Grand Prix.

The Petronas Yamaha rookie appeared on course for victory in San Marino last time out, only to be overtaken by Marc Marquez in a thrilling finish to the race.

Forced to settle for second place on that occasion, Quartararo hopes to again be fighting at the front of the field this Sunday – and expects his bike to "go well" around the MotorLand track, considering recent results.

"For sure Misano has been the best race so far during my career and coming into this race it's a track that we saw the Yamaha in the past, like Maverick [Vinales] in 2017 on pole position, also Valentino [Rossi] was on the front row, so looks the bike is going well," said the 20-year-old Frenchman.

"It's a track that I like so, like always, we will give 100 per cent. Yes, I hope to fight in a good position."

Quartararo also claimed second place at the Catalan Grand Prix earlier in the season, ending up behind Honda rider Marquez having started the race on pole position, while he has finished third on two other occasions in 2019.

He has picked up 112 points in his debut MotoGP campaign despite admitting he is still learning on the job.

"From the beginning of the year the goal was to be rookie of the year, even when in the Sepang test [Francesco] Bagnaia was a second, more than a second, faster than us," Quartararo said, according to MotoGP's official website.

"I never expected to make already pole position, front rows and four podiums, so now I want to keep going on podiums but we need to stay calm because we are rookies and every time we going to a track that is new for us. So I keep working and learning every time."

Marc Marquez strengthened his position at the top of the MotoGP standings with victory in San Marino - but will the Spaniard enjoy further success at the Aragon Grand Prix this weekend?

History suggests Marquez will certainly be challenging once again, considering his record at the track, while the Repsol Honda has risen to the pressure of performing on home soil in the past.

Second-place Andrea Dovizioso, however, does not have fond memories of previous trips to Motorland. As for Jorge Lorenzo, the three-time world champion will be desperate to end a dismal run of form.

Here, we preview the 14th race of the 2019 season with the aid of Opta.

 

1 - Danilo Petrucci is the only rider to collect points in every MotoGP race this season.

2 - Andrea Dovizioso has only finished on the podium in two of his nine previous appearances in Aragon (2012 and 2018).

4 - No rider has won this race more often than Marquez, who has triumphed in four of his six previous MotoGP appearances at the circuit (2013, 2016, 2017 and 2018).

6 - Petrucci has not reached the podium in any of his most recent six MotoGP races, his worst run with Ducati; he was also 10th in the San Marino Grand Prix, his lowest finish in 2019.

12 - Lorenzo has not finished in the top 10 in his last 12 races, his worst such run in MotoGP.

22 - In contrast, Marquez has finished on the podium in 22 of his 26 MotoGP races in Spain. Excluding abandonments, he has secured first or second place in his last 18 completed races, his best such run in MotoGP.

100 - Pol Espargaro will be taking part in his 100th GP. He has reached one podium in his career in the top category (third at the Valencia Grand Prix in 2018).

112 - Fabio Quartararo has already reached a century of points in his first MotoGP season (112). In the last five years, only Johann Zarco has collected more than 100 points in his debut in the top category (174 in 2017).

200 - This will be a 200th GP for Marquez in all categories. He has 77 wins, 128 podiums, 88 pole positions and has posted 68 fastest laps.

An altercation with home favourite Valentino Rossi gave Marc Marquez "extra motivation" to triumph at the San Marino Grand Prix on Sunday.

Marquez had to start the race in fifth – his worst qualifying performance of the MotoGP season – after he and Rossi exceeded the track limits while vying for position on their final flying laps on Saturday.

The Repsol Honda rider managed to move up to third on the opening lap and soon passed Maverick Vinales, who finished third, before spending much of the race behind rookie sensation Fabio Quartararo.

Although Marquez's championship rivals Alex Rins and Andrea Dovizioso respectively crashed out and lacked pace, the reigning champion made a late push for the win and emerged triumphant from a last-lap battle with Quartararo.

Marquez was greeted with boos and chants of "Vale" when he took to the podium as the fans rued Rossi having to settle for fourth behind Monster Energy Yamaha team-mate Vinales.

"I knew it wasn't necessary to win because I saw Rins was out and Dovi was far [behind]. But honestly speaking, [Saturday] was the extra motivation, the extra push for the race," said Marquez.

"I tried to stay there and stay there and decided I'd try [to overtake] on the last lap. I knew Fabio was really fast in turn three so I tried to overtake him before that and then I closed the corners and tried to be smart.

"It's nice to win in Italy, but even nicer to lead by 93 points in the championship."

Quartararo had looked destined to become the second-youngest race winner in MotoGP but was left with a fourth podium of the season as consolation.

Nevertheless, the 20-year-old Petronas Yamaha rider was proud of his performance and having the chance to fight it out with Marquez at the head of the race.

"It was a tough race. I gave 100 per cent I think I made a good race," said Quartararo.

"But today is the first time we had a fight with Marc, we finished really close to the victory and I can say that was the best moment of my career fighting with a seven-time world champion.

"It was a great moment and I hope to be in this position again soon."

Marc Marquez came out on top after a thrilling last-lap battle with Fabio Quartararo to win the San Marino Grand Prix on Sunday.

Petronas Yamaha rookie Quartararo led for the majority of the race and looked set to become the second-youngest rider to top a MotoGP podium, but reigning champion Marquez denied him at the death.

The lead changed hands three times on an enthralling final lap, before the Frenchman had to sit up at turn 14 and thus granted Marquez enough of an advantage to hold on for the win.

Pole-sitter Maverick Vinales had to settle for third, taking the final step on the podium ahead of Monster Energy Yamaha team-mate and home favourite Valentino Rossi.

The victory was Marquez's 77th across all classes and moved him past Mike Hailwood into sole ownership of fourth in the all-time list, while extending his lead in the riders' championship to 93 points.

Marquez may have produced his worst qualifying result of the season at Misano but he was up from fifth to third by the end of the opening lap.

Quartararo, who had been tipped to challenge for victory at the British Grand Prix last time out but crashed on the first corner, made his move on Vinales on the back straight and Marquez followed him on the next lap with a clever dive down the inside at turn nine.

The duo dropped Vinales and were left to battle it out for the win on their own. The Repsol Honda rider failed with an attempt to pass before finally securing the overtake into turn one on the final circuit.

Quartararo regained track position quickly but gave it up just as fast, and when he misjudged his line at the start of the final sector the game was up.

Alex Rins triumphed at Silverstone but slid out after being handed a long-lap penalty and then retired from the race, while Andrea Dovizioso – Marquez's nearest rival in the championship standings – finished behind Franco Morbidelli in sixth.

Pol Espargaro started second - Red Bull KTM Factory Racing's best qualifying performance - but finished seventh, while Jorge Lorenzo was down in 14th and over 47 seconds behind Marquez.

TOP 10

1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda)
2. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha)
3. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha)
4. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha)
5. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha)
6. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati)
7. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)
8. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar)
9. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing)
10. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati)

TITLE STANDINGS

Riders

1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) 275
2. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 182 (-93)
3. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati) 151 (-124)
4. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) 149 (-126)
5. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) 134 (-141)

Teams

1. Ducati 333
2. Repsol Honda 308 (-25)
3. Monster Energy Yamaha 263 (-70)
4. Suzuki Ecstar 200 (-133)
5. Petronas Yamaha 192 (-141)

WHAT'S NEXT?

There is only one week to wait until the Aragon Grand Prix, where Marquez has won in each of the past three years.

Maverick Vinales hopes to be the beneficiary of a feud between MotoGP's biggest two names, Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi, at the San Marino Grand Prix.

A spat between Marquez and Rossi over track position in qualifying, which led to both riders being hindered and exceeding the track limits on their final flying laps, was the major talking point from Saturday.

The championship leader and the motorsport icon had to settle for fifth and seventh on the grid respectively.

Rossi's Monster Energy Yamaha team-mate Vinales, meanwhile, took pole position at Misano, building on his manufacturer's strong showing in testing at the circuit ahead of the race, which had continued through practice.

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing's Pol Espargaro claimed his team's first front-row start at a dry race with a superb second and rookie sensation Fabio Quartararo completed the top three.

"When I arrived to parc ferme and I saw the two Yamahas and our orange rocket in the middle, I was fully proud," said Espargaro. "It was an unbelievable moment."

Quartararo's Petronas Yamaha team-mate Franco Morbidelli, a qualifying specialist, also impressed and he leads Marquez and Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso on the second row.

Dovizioso will therefore start close to Marquez, who leads the Italian by 78 points in the standings with only seven races to go.

Alex Rins, a thrilling winner at Silverstone last time out, starts eighth due to a three-place grid penalty for Johann Zarco, who drops down to 11th.

Cal Crutchlow (14th), Jack Miller (16th), Danilo Petrucci (17th) and Jorge Lorenzo (18th) were among a host of big names to miss out on Q2, while Andrea Iannone will not take part in the race due to a shoulder injury.

Vinales finished seventh the last time he was on pole, in the season opener in Qatar, but he has recorded three podiums since then including a victory in Assen.

The Spaniard, who was 0.295 seconds clear of the field to claim his eighth career pole, said: "I'm really happy and excited - a really good weekend so far.

"We're enjoying the moment because it's always difficult to be in P1 on Saturday. We've worked well for the race, the rhythm is there, we had great pace in the last laps.

"During the test we worked really hard on the slippery conditions and that's why we are on the front now. All the Yamahas have been working well, but somehow we created better grip than the others.

"My objective is to take the lead from the first corner and then push at my maximum. This is a good track for me and for sure I'll be going for the victory.

"I have nothing to lose and everything to win."
 

MARQUEZ-ROSSI FEUD CAPTURES ATTENTION

The worst qualifying result of the season for Marquez, who had earlier crashed in FP4, came partly because of his battle with Rossi.

Three-time Misano winner Rossi and Marquez tangled during their last attempts to set a time, trading overtaking moves before both riders sat up after coming very close to contact at turn 14.

No action was taken by race stewards, but neither rider was particularly happy, both having touched the green run-off area outside of the track limits at different stages.

Rossi said: "I was on my hot lap, I was pushing 100 per cent and he overtook me in the fast corner at turn 11 and he already made me lose a lot of time.

"He tried to pass me in the Curvone knowing that he was ruining my lap and to overtake me he also went [to the] green. I tried to stay more inside to re-overtake in the hairpin but I arrived wide.

"In the end we lost all the chance to do the lap time."

But Repsol Honda star Marquez insisted he was not aware he had run off track and questioned the motives of Rossi.

"I didn't know that I touched the green," he said. "I was pushing and I thought that I was not on the green.

"I was on my hot lap because it was my last chance. At that moment, even I didn't understand what happened because that kind of overtake in qualifying practice is a little bit strange.

"Of course it was an aggressive reaction [from me] because I didn't expect it. His lap was also cancelled because in the exit of turn six, and this is important, he already touched the green.

"For that reason it's difficult to understand what his intention was, you must ask him. I overtook him in the back straight, then at turn 14, I just go in, I saw one black and yellow bike arriving very, very fast inside with a speed that it is impossible to make that corner with."


DOVI EXPECTED DUCATI STRUGGLES

After his big crash at the British Grand Prix last time out, Dovizioso – last year's winner at this track - suggested he had made the best of a bad situation for Ducati, especially given his team-mate Petrucci starts towards the back.

"We were surprised about the level of grip, but we also knew [it would be poor] because when we did the test that was the reality after the changes made to the circuit," said Dovizioso.

"The changes affected our bikes more. You can see that easily because all the Ducatis are in a group and the other bikes are in a different group.

"But the race pace is closer [to the front-runners]. If we make a good start, I believe we can have a say in the matter because the race is particularly long."


THE GRID

1. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha)
2. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)
3. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha)
4. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha)
5. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda)
6. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati)
7. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha)
8. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar)
9. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar)
10. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda)
11. Johann Zarco (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)
12. Michele Pirro (Ducati)

PREVIOUS WINNERS

2018: Andrea Dovizioso
2017: Marc Marquez
2016: Dani Pedrosa (for Honda)
2015: Marc Marquez

TITLE STANDINGS

Riders

1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) 250
2. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 172 (-78)
3. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) 149 (-101)
4. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati) 145 (-105)
5. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) 118 (-132)

Teams

1. Ducati 317
2. Repsol Honda 281 (-36)
3. Monster Energy Yamaha 234 (-83)
4. Suzuki Ecstar 192 (-125)
5. Petronas Yamaha 161 (-156)

WEATHER FORECAST

A dry, cloudy and humid race is expected on Sunday, with light winds. Temperatures should be warm, reaching the low to mid 20s (in Celsius).

Maverick Vinales claimed his first pole since the opening round in Qatar, producing a superb late lap to deny Pol Espargaro in San Marino as Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi were involved an incident that saw both men summoned to the stewards.

Espargaro had looked set to claim his maiden MotoGP pole and the first for KTM as he moved to the top of the timesheets with a lap of 1:32.560.

However, KTM saw a piece of history snatched away from them at Misano, where Vinales went 0.295 seconds quicker to take the top slot on the grid.

The Monster Energy Yamaha rider will now hope for a better result than he enjoyed in the season opener in Qatar. Vinales was left to settle for a seventh-place finish on that occasion despite starting at the front.

Qualifying specialist Fabio Quartararo completed the front row of the grid for Petronas Yamaha, with runaway championship leader Marc Marquez only able to claim fifth behind Franco Morbidelli after a tempestuous duel with Rossi.

Marquez was involved in a crash in the fourth practice session but appeared well positioned to challenge for the top three on his final flying lap.

However, he and Rossi traded overtaking moves before the Italian pushed the Spaniard wide at turn 14, the two riders coming close to making contact.

The near-collision hindered each rider's lap, with Marquez gesturing angrily at the seven-time premier class champion after being condemned to the second row.

It was later confirmed the pair would be required to attend a hearing with the stewards panel regarding the incident. 

Rossi qualified seventh behind Andrea Dovizioso, who is Marquez's closest challenger in the championship, the Ducati rider trailing the Repsol Honda star by 78 points with a maximum of 175 points still to be claimed.

LCR Honda's Cal Crutchlow failed to make it out of Q1 and will start from 14th, with Aleix Espargaro just behind him for Aprilia. Espargaro's team-mate Andrea Iannone was unable to compete in qualifying after an FP4 crash left him nursing a shoulder issue that will keep him out of the race.

Jorge Lorenzo, himself still recovering from injury, could only qualify 18th.

 

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha): 1:32.265
2. Pol Espargaro (KTM): +0.295s
3. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha): +0.306s
4. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha): +0.445s
5. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda): +0.477s
6. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati): +0.773s
7. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha): +0.814s
8. Johann Zarco (KTM): +0.858s
9. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar): +1.000s
10. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar): +1.166s
11. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda): +1.184s
12. Michele Pirro (Ducati): +1.196s

Valentino Rossi hopes to make the most of what he considers to be a "home grand prix" in San Marino after Yamaha laid down a marker in testing.

The seven-time world champion has secured a podium finish in six of his past 11 races at Misano, although last year yielded a disappointing seventh place.

Yamaha have enjoyed great success at this circuit, although they are winless in the last four visits, and a new carbon fibre swingarm is expected to grant Rossi and team-mate Maverick Vinales a boost in horsepower and tyre life this weekend.

Indeed, championship leader Marc Marquez suggested Yamaha could be the team to beat, telling reporters: "Misano test was quite interesting; we will check this weekend.

"Race pace was not so fast compared to last year but we were competitive, especially the Yamaha riders were very fast."

Rossi shared a special moment on Wednesday when he rode through his home town of Tavullia as crowds lined the narrow streets to afford him a hero's welcome.

Having finished fourth behind Vinales at Silverstone two weeks ago, the 40-year-old is eager to get back on the podium.

"For sure here in Misano it's always a special grand prix, it's really the home grand prix," he said. "In the last races I was a bit better but, in Silverstone, after a solid weekend, in the race I wanted to fight for the podium but I was not strong enough. So, we will try another time here.

"We did some tests, important tests, my pace was quite good, I feel quite well with the bike, so we try. We are ready and we will see if we are strong enough to fight for the podium."

Vinales is certainly feeling confident after testing having eased two points ahead of Rossi in the standings with his third-place finish in England last month.

"I feel really good on the bike and especially with myself," he said. "Confidence is really high, we'll try to push the maximum, try to keep a good level all weekend and during the race be at the front. The test has been really successful for me, so we will try to do our best."

Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi will be out to make up for frustrating finishes in last season's San Marino Grand Prix as the MotoGP heads to Misano.

No other riders have managed more than the three victories both Lorenzo and Rossi – of Repsol Honda and Monster Energy Yamaha respectively – have achieved at the circuit.

However, the duo endured difficult races at Misano last season, with Lorenzo coming 17th, 10 places behind Rossi, who on Tuesday took a ride through his hometown of Tavullia, bringing out masses of fans.

Marc Marquez will be looking to maintain his recent run of fine form at the San Marino GP in order to extend his lead at the top of the MotoGP championship.

Marquez leads nearest rival Andrea Dovizioso by 78 points heading into the final eight races of 2019.

Franco Morbidelli, meanwhile, is set to make a milestone appearance.

6 - Nine-time world champion Rossi has finished on the podium in six of his 11 MotoGP appearances at Misano, though last season's seventh-place finish was the worst he has recorded, level with 2011.

11 - Yamaha have won 11 of the 21 races so far at Misano in the top category, although they have failed to win any of the last four editions, their worst such streak at this circuit.

3 - Lorenzo is the only rider to have won three successive MotoGP races at Misano, from 2011 to 2013.

17 - Excluding abandonments, Marquez has finished in either first or second place in his last 17 races – his best run.

50 - Marquez has started in pole position in 50 per cent of his 120 MotoGP races.

2 - Dovizioso had typically struggled in San Marino, failing to secure a podium finish until 2017, when he finished third and in 2018 the Italian raced over in first.

12 - Alex Rins recorded his biggest comeback in the top category in the 2017 San Marino GP, charging up 12 places from 20th on the grid to finish eighth.

100 - Morbidelli will make his 100th appearance in all categories. He has eight wins, 21 podium finishes, six pole positions and 13 fastest laps, though none of those have come in MotoGP.

The 2020 MotoGP season will feature the return of the Finnish Grand Prix after a provisional schedule for next season was revealed on Wednesday.

Finland has not held a MotoGP event since 1982 but will make its return at the halfway point in next year's campaign, which – if it runs as currently planned – will be the longest season to date with 20 races.

The Thailand Grand Prix, which made its debut in 2019, has been switched to the second slot on the draft schedule, and is set to take place on March 22, two weeks after the first race in Qatar.

Brno is provisionally down to host the Czech Grand Prix, though the race is "subject to contract".

GP of the Americas – staged in Austin – will take place on April 5, ahead of the Argentinian grand prix, with the world championship returning to Europe from May through to October.

Events in Japan, Australia and Malaysia precede the final race, which will be hosted in Valencia on November 15.

Fabio Quartararo remained upbeat despite a tough outing at the British MotoGP after he and Andrea Dovizioso both emerged unharmed from a first-lap crash.

Rookie star Quartararo had the third retirement of his debut season on Sunday after going down early at Silverstone, inadvertently taking out title contender Dovizioso in the process.

Both men were taken to hospital for tests as Alex Rins pipped defending champion and season leader Marc Marquez to victory.

But the two felled riders were both able to post encouraging updates on their Twitter accounts later on Sunday.

"Rider OK! See you in Misano," Quartararo wrote alongside a picture. "Thanks for all your messages."

An update from Dovizioso's social media account, attached with a group photo, read: "Dovi's fine and he's already flying back home!"

Quartararo posted a further message on Monday: "Overall we had a good weekend at Silverstone and I want to thank my team for all their hard work and support. We keep pushing."

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