Australia’s top MotoGP and Moto2 hopes, Jack Miller and Remy Gardner, are chasing glory with front-row starts in the final round of their respective seasons in Portugal.
Miller (Pramac Ducati) will start third in the premier class finale at Portimao, ahead of new world champion Joan Mir, in the MotoGP race starting at 1am AEDT.
Earlier Gardner will start on pole in the Moto2 season finale, after he earned the third pole position of his career and second of the season (Austria). One of Enea Bastianini, Sam Lowes, Luca Marini or Marco Bezzecchi will be crowned champion in the race that begins at 11:20pm AEDT.
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LIVE TIMING: Follow the Portuguese Grand Prix here
In his home Grand Prix, Miguel Oliveira claimed his maiden MotoGP pole.
The Portuguese KTM-Tech3 rider, 25, will be joined on the front row of the season-closer in Portimao by Franco Morbidelli and Miller.
Mir’s hopes of finishing with a flourish after claiming the world title last week appear slim after he failed to make it into Q2 which determines the make-up of the front four rows. The Spaniard will start from a lowly 20th on the grid.
Oliveira, winner of the Styrian Grand Prix, said: “Every time I’m on the circuit I feel better and better and it’s great to get my first pole here in Portugal.”
Morbidelli, who won last weekend in Valencia as well as at the Teruel MotoGP earlier this season, said he had to work hard to get on the front row.
“It was tough but to end so well is a positive,” said the Italian who was just 0.044sec behind Oliveira.
“It was unbelievable to get into Q2 and then almost be on pole position.”
Miller said being on the front row will be crucial on Sunday on a circuit where “it’s hard to pass”.
“There’s a lot of wind in the last corner so that can be scary, but the bike has been amazing all weekend.
“There isn’t anyone who isn’t having fun out there.”
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Sunday’s race, held in front of empty stands due to the pandemic, provides Morbidelli with a chance to clinch second place in the world championship behind Mir.
Valentino Rossi, the seven-time MotoGP champion who is racing for the final time with the Yamaha factory team, will start in 17th place on Sunday.
The 41-year-old Italian is switching places with Yamaha-SRT satellite rider Fabio Quartararo in 2021.
He is down in 15th place in the championship after missing two races of the season after testing positive for coronavirus.
In the Moto2 race, Enea Bastianini can claim his first world title if he finishes in the top four, or in the top eight if Sam Lowes doesn’t win the race.
MOTOGP PORTUGUESE GRAND PRIX QUALIFYING
1. Miguel Oliveira (POR/KTM-Tech3) 1:38.892
2. Franco Morbidelli (ITA/Yamaha-SRT) at 0.044
3. Jack Miller (AUS/Ducati-Pramac) 0.146
4. Cal Crutchlow (GBR/Honda-LCR) 0.264
5. Fabio Quartararo (FRA/Yamaha-SRT) 0.307
6. Stefan Bradl (GER/Honda) 0.312
7. Johann Zarco (FRA/Ducati-Avintia) 0.346
8. Maverick Vinales (ESP/Yamaha) 0.368
9. Pol Espargaro (ESP/KTM) 0.392
10. Alex Rins (ESP/Suzuki) 0.575
11. Takaaki Nakagami (JPN/Honda-LCR) 0.639
12. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA/Ducati) 0.695