Marc Marquez has been untouchable so far on Saturdays and it was no different in Mugello as the championship leader bagged his sixth consecutive pole of the season in as many qualifying sessions. Right from his flying lap, the Spaniard showcased great pace and set his pole time of 1m.47.270s early on in Q2, even before he pitted for fresh rubber. For Marquez, it was a regular day in office, going all guns blazing right from the word go and letting others do the catching up for the rest of the session.
What however took everyone by surprise was Marquez's closest challenger, Pramac Racing's Andrea Iannone, who delivered his best qualifying performance so far in the premier class. His fastest time was 0.180s slower than Marquez, giving Ducati a surprise front-row start at its home race. This will be Iannone's first front-row start in the premiere class, who made good use of the track conditions (well suited for an Italian rider on an Italian bike) along with the special soft rear tyre available to the team, and set a time 0.071 seconds faster than Yamaha's out-of-shape Jorge Lorenzo.
Lorenzo, winner of the last three GPs held here, hasn't really been on the top of him form this season, but had something to cheer about as he completed the front-row for Yamaha. He was fastest around the circuit in the early part of qualifying, only to be outdone by Marquez and the slip-streaming Iannone. His Yamaha team-mate and local hero, Valentino Rossi, who finished second in the previous round at Le Mans, didn't have a Saturday to remember as he only managed P10 on the grid. However, its great to see 0.521 seconds covering the top 10 riders, indicating a great battle for top positions on race day.
Dani Pedrosa, who set the fastest time in practice three, looked like he would give Rossi some company down the grid. But a strong final lap landed him in P4 ahead of Tech 3 Yamaha's Pol Espargaro, who despite of a crash in the final stages, managed to hold on to P5. Cal Crutchlow came up with his best-with-Ducati qualifying time to start ahead of Bradley Smith (Tech 3 Yamaha), Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati), Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda) and Rossi. Alvaro Bautista for Gresini Honda and Aleix Espargaro (Forward Yamaha) completed the top 12 riders for Sunday. Nicky Hayden, who had been facing issues with his ailing wrist for some time now, had finally decided to pull out of the event this morning. He will take the weekend off and undergo a surgery in Italy, hoping to recover before the next round in Spain on June 15.
Marc Marquez goes into the race unbeaten in the first five events of 2014, aiming for his sixth straight win of the season. But will he be able pull away from the rest of the field and make it stick, or will there be a surprise on Sunday? Or can Rossi celebrate his 300th MotoGP race start with a victory or a podium finish on his home turf? Race day will have all the answers.
1. Marc Marquez (Honda) - 1m47.270s
2. Andrea Iannone (Pramac Ducati) - 1m47.450s (+0.180s)
3. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) - 1m47.521s (+0.251s)
4. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) - 1m47.584s (+0.314s)
5. Pol Espargaro (Tech 3 Yamaha) - 1m47.612s (+0.342s)
6. Cal Crutchlow (Ducati) - 1m47.659s (+0.389s)
7. Bradley Smith (Tech 3 Yamaha) - 1m47.681s (+0.411s)
8. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) - 1m47.754s (+0.484s)
9. Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda) - 1m47.765s (+0.495s)
10. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) - 1m47.791s (+0.521s)
11. Alvaro Bautista (Gresini Honda) - 1m48.132s (+0.862s)
12. Aleix Espargaro (Forward Yamaha) - 1m48.218s (+0.948s)
13. Yonny Hernandez (Pramac Ducati)
14. Scott Redding Gresini Honda)
15. Michele Pirro (Ducati)
16. Karel Abraham (Cardion Honda)
17. Hiroshi Aoyama (Apar Honda)
18. Colin Edwards (Forward Yamaha)
19. Hector Barbera (Avintia FTR-Kawasaki)
20. Michael Laverty (PBM Aprilia)
21. Mike di Meglio (vintia FTR-Kawasaki)
22. Broc Parkes (PBM Aprilia)
23. Michel Fabrizio (Ioda Aprilia)