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Pol Espargaró wins the ‘pole’ to Rins in Cheste by 41 thousandths


Pol Espargaró (KTM), during the qualifying session this Saturday at the Ricardo Tormo circuit, in Valencia.JOSE JORDAN / AFP

Liters and liters of rain had fallen in Valencia on Thursday, especially in the south of the province. The ravines overflowed, the shallows, the shops and schools were flooded; There was plenty of water everywhere in the orange groves, and many were searching their retina: how long had it rained this badly? It continued to unload, albeit somewhat less, on Friday while sidewalks were cleaned and cars that had taken off for a mud bath were recovered. And the MotoGP riders made crosses at the Ricardo Tormo circuit, in Cheste, who saw the storm unload while desperately checking the weather forecasts.

“Maybe we can go to the qualifying session on a dry track now,” some ventured. But although this Saturday the sky opened at noon and let the first rays of sun appear, the asphalt of the Valencian route did not dry enough, for which a tiny lane was drawn in some curves that was insufficient before the trail of water that I was still running in other parts of the circuit. This is how 12 pilots disputed the pole position that Pol Espargaró (KTM) would end up being awarded.

The fight was held on scratched tires, ideal for draining water from the track. The terrain conditions did not allow for surprises or risky bets, although Jack Miller, an expert in these situations, waited in his box for the moment to strike. But that moment did not come. Some risked more and others not so much, that is what their times speak of. But they played it, all, in each curve. The little Espargaró played it to finish at the top of the table and achieve his second pole in MotoGP. Rins (Suzuki), who believes more than anyone else in that being within 32 points of the leader, his partner Mir, does not exclude him at all from the fight for the World title with 75 points at stake. And he qualified second, just 41 thousandths behind Granollers, his best starting position all season. Third on the grid will form Nakagami (LCR Honda), who even went to the ground in the middle of the session, although after setting a time that was worth him to stand in that first row.

In the second row of the grid this Sunday (14.00, DAZN), with the fifth fastest time, will be the leader, Joan Mir, who is eager to score his first victory of the year with Suzuki before having to start racing with the calculator: only 14 points distance him from Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha), who did not have such a good Saturday. The rain choked the Frenchman, who will start from 11th place, just two places behind his teammate Morbidelli, who also aspires to the crown, fourth place overall, 25 points behind Mir.

The third in the standings is Viñales, 18 points behind the Mallorcan, but his weekend (and his World Cup, too) was much complicated before he was left out of Q2 and finished on Saturday with the 15th fastest time. He has released a sixth engine and has been penalized for it: it will leave this Sunday from pit lane.


elpais.com