Moto2: Baldassarri holds off Marquez and Marini by thousandths

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Lorenzo Baldassarri will start tomorrow’s Moto2 race at the Thai Grand Prix on pole position, but by mere fractions of a second after just holding off Alex Marquez and Luca Marini for the top spot. He’s just 0.026 ahead of the Spaniard, with his fellow VR46 Academy rider only 0.008 back in turn. Brit Sam Lowes, still struggling for speed on the Buriram circuit’s long straights, will start from 15th.

Baldassarri was able to set his fastest lap on his third flying lap as the intermediate class got down to business in Buriram and it proved unbeatable, but both Marquez and Marini were on the prowl as the session entered its latter stages. First, it was the Italian who threatened his fellow countryman, missing out by less than half a tenth on the line before Marquez put in his personal best time to push Marini down to third.

The duo narrowly missed out on pole, but it was a welcome return to the front row for both riders – Brno was the last time for Marquez and Marini. Meanwhile, Baldassarri lands his first top three since Le Mans and his first pole since Mugello.

Despite a late crash in qualifying, Mattia Pasini was able to hold on to fourth and the Italian is joined on the second row by the two title contenders – Miguel Oliveira and Francesco Bagnaia. The former was another rider to set his best time at the beginning of qualifying, finishing just 0.002 behind Pasini in fifth, with championship leader Bagnaia jumping up to sixth from eighth on his last lap – another tiny 0.002 in arrears.

Brad Binder, winner last time out in Aragon, qualifies seventh ahead of FP3 leader Fabio Quartararo, who will go in search of his third podium of the season from eighth after showing good pace throughout the weekend. Augusto Fernandez took his best qualifying in ninth and Marcel Schrötter completed a top ten covered by 0.315 seconds.

Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer