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Vinales takes Mugello MotoGP pole, Rossi second despite injuries

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Maverick Viñales picked up his third MotoGP pole position of the season on Saturday after edging out home favorite Valentino Rossi in qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello.

Viñales arrived in Italy leading the riders’ championship by 17 points following his victory from pole position two weeks ago at Le Mans, and continued to turn the screw on his rivals by once again leading the way on Saturday at Mugello.

Viñales turned in a fastest lap of 1:46.575 to finish two-tenths of a second clear of Yamaha teammate Rossi, who took second on the grid despite riding with injuries sustained in a motocross accident late last month.

Andrea Dovizioso led Ducati’s charge in third place, 0.021 seconds back from Rossi, while wildcard teammate Michele Pirro took fourth on the grid for his one-off appearance this season.

Dani Pedrosa qualified fifth for Repsol Honda ahead of teammate Marc Marquez, with three-time champion Jorge Lorenzo finishing the session seventh. Alvaro Bautista ended Q2 eighth on the Aspar Ducati, with Danilo Petrucci and Tito Rabat rounding out the top 10.

Ferrari teammates Vettel and Raikkonen fastest in rainy final practice at Australian GP

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen went one-two in the final practice session ahead of qualifying at the water-logged Australian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Vettel set a best-lap time of 1 minute, 26.067 seconds, more than 2.4 seconds faster than his teammate in second.

Both Ferrari drivers switched from their intermediate tires to the super-fast, ultra-soft tires for the final few laps of the session, testing conditions on the track after a day-long downpour left it slick and filled with small puddles.

Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton did not opt to try out their soft tires, sticking to the intermediates for the entire session. They had the seventh- and eighth-fastest times, after topping the leaderboard in practice in dry conditions on Friday.

The heavy rains subsided by early afternoon, allowing the track to rapidly dry during the third practice session and making conditions safe for drivers to test their soft tires.

Still, only a few drivers completed a timed lap with the softer compounds, with Mercedes, Red Bull and most of the others staying with their intermediates.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson had the third-fastest time of the session on ultrasoft tires, followed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on intermediates.

Hamilton remains the favorite to capture his fifth straight pole position at the Australian Grand Prix in qualifying later Saturday. He had the fastest laps on ultrasoft tires in the two practice sessions on Friday, though Verstappen was right behind him.

Verstappen and Vettel both slid on the slick track early in the third practice session, but maintained control and completed their runs without incident.

Verstappen’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, had the sixth-fastest time of the session. The Australian’s chances of winning his fifth career Grand Prix on his home track in Melbourne took a hit late Friday when he was assessed a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

The Australian driver was penalized for driving too fast under red-flag conditions during Friday’s second practice session because of debris on the track.