Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) secured his first pole position since Valencia 2016 at the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya in a spectacular Q2 session, on top in red for the first time. But Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) is within a whisker in second despite an incident-packed Saturday for the number 93 – and another spectacular save – with Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) grabbing his first front row start of the season in third.
Under blistering Barcelona skies, it was a battle of the Spaniards for pole position on home soil. Lorenzo was the first man to set a time, before Marquez crossed the line to set the fastest lap of the weekend – a magnificent 1:38.886, with Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) firing in a 1:39.392 to put himself between the two after the first run.
Lorenzo then blasted out the box to launch himself to the top of the timesheets, with just 0.066s the difference between him and future teammate Marquez. The number 93 was right on the pace of his compatriot, however, before finding some traffic at Turn 13 – left unable to deny Lorenzo his first Ducati pole and his tenth front row start in a row at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
Dovizioso, meanwhile, threatened to take pole on his final run and the Italian was up in the first half of the lap before losing time in Sector 3. Nonetheless, the number 04 launches from P3 and looks confident ahead of Sunday – as do the two men ahead of him.
Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) will start fourth and top Yamaha at his home Grand Prix, a huge improvement from his P9 start this time last year – and there were good positives for the number 25 looking towards Sunday. FP4’s quickest man Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was just 0.003 behind Viñales, and the Italian starts from the second row for a third consecutive race as he puts himself in a strong position to once again challenge for a podium. Alma Pramac Racing’s Danilo Petrucci was able to get himself onto the outside of row two, a good session for the Ducati rider, who starts P6 and top Independent Team rider.
Rossi, who was second after the first runs, made a mistake on his first attempt on the second row, and was able to improve but was left unsatisfied with his position. ‘The Doctor’ will start seventh but thinks he has better pace on race day. The number 46 is just ahead of Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), who took P8 after a difficult weekend. Rounding out the third row was Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing) after he was able to earn an automatic Q2 spot, the Spaniard securing his best dry qualifying result of the season in P9.
Behind Rabat on the grid is Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol), who had a difficult end to the session as he crashed at the newly modified Turn 13 while on a personal best lap – the British rider will start tenth. Dani Pedrosa’s (Repsol Honda Team) quiet weekend continued in qualifying, the Spaniard will line up in 11th for his home race, with Q1 graduate Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) having a fantastic afternoon in Barcelona, setting a lap time less than two tenths slower than Pedrosa to start a personal best P12 and as top rookie. Nakagami also moved through to Q2 for the first time.
So, is it Lorenzo vs Marquez for the victory on home soil? The hammer has been well and truly slammed down by the number 99, but the shockwaves didn’t seem to faze the number 93 on Saturday. Will Lorenzo’s race pace prove too much come Sunday afternoon? Or can Marquez bounce back in style once again?
Watch it all unfold as the lights go out for the Catalan GP at 14:00 local time (GMT +2).
Fabio Quartararo (HRD – Speed Up Racing) will start tomorrow’s Moto2™ Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya race from pole position, setting a blistering 1:43.474 to beat 2017 race winner Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) and Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) to secure his first ever intermediate class pole.
It was Schrötter who was the man to beat for the majority of the session, jumping to the top of the timesheets from the off, setting a benchmark of 1:43.619 – the fastest lap of the weekend. The German’s time wouldn’t be beaten until home rider Marquez, on his 14th flying lap, went 0.029 quicker.
Quartararo, who has been up the sharp end throughout the weekend, then stepped up to the mark. The Speed Up rider was looking comfortable in P3, until the 19-year-old increased the pace with just three minutes remaining – a 1:43.474 topping Marquez by over a tenth, with no one having an answer before the checkered flag was waved.
After leading FP3 by over three tenths of a second, Championship leader Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) had to settle for fourth quickest in qualifying. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was the leading KTM rider, he picked up his equal best qualifying finish of the season in fifth after spending much of the session battling for a top six place. The South African is in an Italian sandwich in the middle of row two, with Italtrans Racing Team rider Mattia Pasini in sixth – 0.038 back from Binder. Meanwhile Binder’s teammate, Championship challenger Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo), was down in P17. The Portuguese rider will take heart from the Italian GP, however – coming from P11 to take the win.
Xavi Vierge (Dynavolt Intact GP) spearheads the third row of the grid, the Barcelona resident was looking good for a solid top six start until a crash at T1 put an end to his front row aspirations – he’ll start P7. The leading rookie was once again Joan Mir (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), the reigning Moto3™ World Champion has been in and around the top ten all weekend and will start from eighth on Sunday. Rounding out the third row is Sam Lowes (Swiss Innovative Investors), propelling himself into P9 in the final ten minutes to finish 0.012 ahead of Championship protagonist Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP40), who recovered from an early crash to start tenth.
Can Quartararo earn his first ever Grand Prix victory when he launches from pole, or will Marquez reign supreme for the second year running at the Catalan GP? Find out when the Moto2™ class go racing at 12:20 local time (GMT +2).
Enea Bastianini (Leopard Racing) will start tomorrow’s Moto3™ race at the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya from pole position as he took top spot in qualifying for the first time since Aragon 2016. Despite a second crash of the weekend, Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) starts second, with Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) on the outside of the front row in third.
‘The Beast’ was the rider to beat throughout the session at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, setting a 1:48.806 – the quickest lap of the weekend – just ten minutes into the session to set a benchmark that wouldn’t be beaten.
It was a tricky start for the Del Conca Gresini’s of Martin and Fabio Di Giannantonio, with the latter crashing at Turn 4 without having set a time. Then, Martin was in the gravel, taking down Albert Arenas (Angel Nieto Team Moto3) at Turn 10 with just over ten minutes gone – the bike unable to restart.
Nonetheless, Championship protagonist went back out with 15 minutes remaining and aggressively leaped to P2 on his second flying lap, 0.107 off Bastianini. Behind the Spaniard was Suzuki, who had another terrific qualifying session to earn his second consecutive front row start.
Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing) was up the sharp end throughout the session, the Japanese rider will start one position behind compatriot Suzuki in fourth. On home soil, Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) managed to earn a P5 start, with Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) making it three Japanese riders in the top six, launching from the outside of row two in sixth after recovering from a crash midway through qualifying.
John McPhee (CIP – Green Power) spearheads the third row of the grid in seventh, a good qualifying session for the Scot, with Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA BOE Skull Rider) finishing the session in eighth despite a late crash at Turn 5. Championship leader Marco Bezzecchi (Redox PrustelGP) will have work to do from P9 on the grid, the Italian was in and around the top ten throughout the session on board his KTM.
Championship contender Di Giannantonio managed to salvage P13 on his final run, having set his first flying lap with just ten minutes of the session remaining. Can he work his way forward and fight for the podium?
It’s Bastianini on pole for the Catalan GP, who will take the fight to the Italian in Sunday’s race? Will this kick his Championship challenge into another gear? Lights go out for the lightweight class at 11:00 local time (GMT +2).
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