Marc Márquez and Danilo Petrucci dominated Friday's wet and Saturday's mostly wet practices at Circuit Ricardo Tormo, splitting top honors across the four sessions. Maverick Viñales, however, will start Sunday's season-ending Valencian Grand Prix from pole position—his first in more than a year—having advanced through the first of two 15-minute qualifying runs, both of which were run in dry conditions.

“It comes at the right time,” the 23-year-old factory Yamaha rider told the media. “In Phillip Island, I pushed so hard. Even though it was raining, I was trying to get on the pole, but I lost it by three-tenths of a second. Here, I just gave my best. Luckily, in Q1, I could improve my bike a little bit [for Q2]. Being here on pole today is really special because last year this was one of our worst tracks on the calendar.”

Maverick Viñales earned pole position in Valencia after post-Qualifying 1 improvements to his factory Yamaha YZR-M1.
Maverick Viñales earned pole position in Valencia after post-Qualifying 1 improvements to his factory Yamaha YZR-M1. “I want to thank the team because in just 10 minutes they changed all of the bike,” he said. “They were so fast, more than me on the track.”Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto.com

Álex Rins and Andrea Dovizioso will join Viñales on the front row, but their achievements didn't come without drama, at least for Rins, who crashed twice on Saturday in the same corner. "FP3 was normal," he explained. "Everybody was not going full gas but trying to go directly into Q2. [Drying] FP4 was harder. With the slick tire, I ran off the track. I touched a wet patch and lost the front. When I entered the gravel, it was like a washing machine.

“I tried to forget the crash and concentrate to make a good Q2. After three laps, I went to the box. I saw on the TV that I was second, and this gave me extra motivation to push a little bit more. Starting on the first row for tomorrow is ideal because this track is really small, and overtaking is difficult. Dry or wet, it doesn’t matter.” On Sunday, Suzuki will be shooting for a fourth-consecutive podium, a feat its riders haven’t replicated since 1994.

Marc Márquez Valencia Spain MotoGP
“I knew since Motegi that the shoulder is not so good,” Marc Márquez admitted. “We are lucky we are on the last race. We have only a few tests in front, Valencia and Jerez, and then surgery in December.” Despite his injury, Márquez is expected to start from fifth on the grid.Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto.com

Dovizioso hasn’t finished on the podium at Valencia since 2011. “I’m happy about the improvement this morning,” he said. “We expected an improvement, but you have to be on track to confirm that. We changed the balance of the bike, and it was much better. With the quantity of the water we found this morning, our bike worked well.” Water pooling in portions of the circuit on Friday forced two lengthy red-flag delays.

“It was easy to make a mistake, especially in FP4,” Dovizioso admitted. “Everybody took a lot of risks in qualifying. I made some mistakes on my good lap, but to be on the first row is a dream for us. Marc has something more, I think. But in Valencia, anything can happen; 27 laps is a long race. Let’s see if it will be dry or wet. I think we have a good pace, but we found a different condition in every practice, so we have to wait.”

Danilo Petrucci MotoGP Valencia Spain
Danilo Petrucci will make his final appearance in Pramac Racing colors on Sunday in Valencia. The 28-year-old Italian will team this coming season with Andrea Dovizioso on factory Ducati GP19s. Pramac’s Jack Miller will also have a GP19.Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto.com

Petrucci and Márquez qualified fourth and fifth, respectively. “I am very satisfied because we did well in both wet and dry conditions,” the Pramac Ducati rider said. “There is a bit of disappointment because I could have won the front row, but that’s okay. We are competitive, but it is clear that in rain I feel better this weekend.” Petrucci will replace outgoing Jorge Lorenzo on the factory Ducati beginning Tuesday at the first 2019 preseason tests.

And Márquez? On his first flying lap in qualifying, the reigning world champion crashed in turn 4, the first right-hander following three consecutive lefts. In his debrief, Márquez described the dramatic chain of events. “I was unlucky because I wasn’t pushing,” he said. “Maybe the tire was not in the correct temperature. I lost the front, and when I went into the gravel, I already felt something strange in the shoulder.

Andrea Dovizioso  MotoGP Spain
Andrea Dovizioso earned his seventh front-row start of the season. “For the race we have a good chance,” he said, “but it will almost certainly rain and in that case anything can happen.” Test rider Michele Pirro qualified 12th and, returning from injury, Jorge Lorenzo was 13th.Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto.com
Álex Rins earned his first front-row start on Saturday at Valencia
Álex Rins earned his first front-row start on Saturday at Valencia. “I’m pleased because, despite the crash in FP4, he was able to push hard from the start of Q2,” Team Manager Davide Brivio said. Andrea Iannone qualified seventh for his final race with Suzuki.Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto.com

“When I went in from the track, I tried to move it a little bit. My people helped me, and then everything came in its place. I cooled down a few moments, the doctor arrived, and we made the check. Everything was fine, so I felt ready to ride again. I went out on the track. Of course, I didn’t push like normal. It was painful, but I did not have enough confidence to push. Even like this, we finished just one-tenth behind the pole position.”

Despite his speed in the dry, Viñales said he is not yet ready to race in the wet conditions he and the rest of the field expect to face on Sunday afternoon. “For sure,” he said, “tonight we have to make some changes to be more confident on the tire and try to be stronger tomorrow.” Rins and Dovizioso, however, are sure of their setups. “We are prepared for this case,” Rins said. To which Dovizioso added, “We are quite ready.”