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Sept 19 (Reuters) - Yamaha’s Maverick Viñales took pole position for Sunday’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix after a dramatic final qualifying session on Saturday in which Pramac Racing’s pace-setter Francesco Bagnaia was penalised for exceeding track limits.
Viñales, whose all-time Misano lap record set before last week’s San Marino race was then erased by Bagnaia in the third free practice, blazed the circuit during the final qualifying session to set another new mark of one minute, 31.077 seconds.
The 25-year-old Spaniard - who had claimed pole last weekend - went 0.076 seconds quicker than Pramac Racing’s Jack Miller, while Petronas Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo (1:31.222) completed the front row.
“I feel quite good... we made an improvement from last weekend which makes me much more calmer, much more ready for tomorrow,” Viñales said.
“We’re going to try our best... the team did a good job... at the very last exit we found something good. I worked hard with the race conditions and I hope it pays off.”
Bagnaia will now start fifth after the Italian touched the green while coming out of the final corner, forcing officials to cancel his final lap.
The Italian, who was among a number of riders who crashed in practice earlier amid colder temperatures, had set a blistering time of 1:30.973.
Ducati’s championship leader Andrea Dovizioso could only manage 10th following a disappointing effort in qualifying.
Bradley Smith (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) and Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) both crashed at turn 15 ahead of qualifying but the pair walked away unhurt.
Nakagami hit the tarmac again at the same part of the track later and escaped injury again.
Petronas Yamaha’s Franco Morbidelli won last weekend’s San Marino race, while Dovizioso was seventh to leapfrog Quartararo and take the lead in the world championship with 76 points.
The first six rounds of the COVID-19-hit 2020 season have produced five different winners, with Quartararo claiming the opening two races in Jerez. (Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Hugh Lawson)
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