Fabio Di Giannantonio snatched a shock pole position at home in the Italian MotoGP on Saturday, as Marc Marquez announced he will undergo further surgery on his troublesome right arm.
Gresini rider Di Giannantonio took top spot on the grid for the first time in his career on his final lap at Mugello, posting a stunning time of one minute, 46.156sec to pip countryman Marco Bezzecchi by just 0.088sec.
The 23-year-old Italian had made his way into the second run after topping the times in the first qualifying session and his team celebrated wildly as he snatched pole at the death.
“I’m starting to understand something about racing, before all I used to do was push as hard as I could,” Di Giannantonio said to Sky.
“It’s Mugello, with a Ducati and all the fans… Incredible.”
Di Giannantonio is in his first season in the top class MotoGP after finishing seventh with Kalex in Moto2 last season.
He was one of two rookies in the top two positions alongside VR46 Racing Team rider Bezzecchi, who took second in the grid on his Ducati for his first ever top line finish in MotoGP, just 0.088sec behind Di Giannantonio.
Spaniard Marquez finished in 11th but then revealed his surgery next week, an attempt to solve the problems he has had with his right arm since suffering a fracture almost two years ago.
The six-time MotoGP champion made the announcement after a difficult qualifying session, spinning off his bike almost instantly after the start of the second session.
Marquez, 29, overtook to have the open track in front of him only to completely lose control on turn two and flew off the bike across the tarmac.
He walked away and recovered to take part in the rest of the session but was nowhere near the leaders, and then said he would be operated on in the United States.
“I’ve felt serious discomfort (since his injury), I’ve realised that I’m not enjoying this season, I’m suffering a lot and I’m not racing as I would like,” said Marquez.
Asked how long he would be out for, Marquez said: “I have no idea, the doctors will tell me after the operation, but it will definitely be a long stop. It’s the right time to do it”.
Marquez is currently 10th in the championship, 48 points behind reigning champion and current leader Fabio Quartararo.
France’s Quartararo finished sixth in qualifying, the Yamaha rider 0.350sec off the pace and behind a top five dominated by Ducati riders on good form on home turf.
Quartararo leads the championship standings by 14 points ahead of Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro, who finished seventh.
Francesco Bagnaia posted the fastest time in the third practice but finished fifth in qualifying, 0.315sec behind the shock pole sitter.