Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) has become the youngest ever MotoGP™ polesitter after a history maker of a day in the Gran Premio Red Bull de España, with the Frenchman breaking both the lap record and the pole position age record in Jerez. At 20 years and 14 days old he’s younger than the 20 years and 62 days of Marc Marquez’ (Repsol Honda Team) previous record at COTA set in 2013, and with a 1:36.880 he’s well inside the previous fastest ever lap of the track. Teammate Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) was close behind though, just 0.082 in arrears for his front row start in the premier class, and the two became the first to take a 1-2 for an Independent Team since Valencia 2005. That’s as well as taking the first pole and front row starts for their new Petronas Yamaha SRT team. Reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) completes the top three, and he says he’ll try and ensure his record as the youngest winner in the MotoGP™ class won’t go the same way as the pole record when the lights go out on Sunday…
Behind Quartararo on the grid is Championship leader Andrea Dovizioso (Mission Winnow Ducati), on the hunt for his first premier class podium at the last venue on the calendar where he’s yet to achieve one, with Q1 graduate Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) alongside him in fifth after a solid recovery from a tough morning – including a good showing in race-pace important FP4. Last year’s polesitter – and the previous lap record holder – is in sixth, as Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Crutchlow) bounced back from a crash in FP3 to complete the second row.
Next up is Danilo Petrucci (Mission Winnow Ducati) in P7 after the Italian was fastest on Friday, and despite a crash he has the Jerez Test’s fastest rider Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) and COTA winner Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) just behind him on the third row. Rookie Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) put in an impressive performance to complete the top ten after heading through from Q1 alongside Viñales.
11th place is a man to watch for on Sunday afternoon, and a man who’ll be hoping to reassert his reputation as the fastest starter in the field: Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team). With three premier class wins at Jerez, the number 99’s record is a very good one – and it’s a crash in Q2 that leaves him down the order, not a lack of outright pace. Meanwhile alongside him, Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) made it three of four rookies in Q2 for the first time this season and he starts in P12 near the five-time Champion.
In 13th, however, is one of the biggest headlines from Saturday: Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP). The ‘Doctor’ had a tough Saturday and was denied a chance at graduation to Q2 by VR46 Aademy rider Francesco Bagnaia…but Rossi has always brought the magic on race day. What can he achieve from P13?
Wildcard and HRC test rider Stefan Bradl (HRC Team) was in P14, with Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) just behind in P15. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), meanwhile, was just ahead of brother Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) as they took P16 and P17, but the Aprilia was inside Crutchlow’s 2018 lap record and the KTM only just over a tenth outside it – the top 16 able to better that laptime showing how incredible the level of competition is once again. And some of them will surely be looking to follow the ‘Doctor’ through the pack and get in the incredibly tight fight at the front in Jerez once the lights go out…
History was made on Saturday by Quartararo, and there’s plenty at stake on Sunday in a tantalising Spanish GP. The world’s fastest motorcycle racing Championship goes racing for the first time in Europe this season at 14:00 (GMT +2) local time at the classic Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto. Don’t miss it!
Jorge Navarro (HDR Heidrun Speed Up) converted practice pace to pole on Saturday at the Gran Premio Red Bull de España, taking his first ever pole position in the intermediate class and his first pole since Silverstone 2015. His margin was only 0.091 though as former winner at the venue Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) came close, and Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40) made it three Spaniards at the top as he was third fastest to take his first ever front row start.
On a cooler Saturday, the big surprise names in Q1 included both Red Bull KTM Ajo riders Brad Binder and Jorge Martin despite their pace on Friday, and the race was on for both to move through. In the end though only Binder could, third fastest behind Iker Lecuona (American Racing KTM) and Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team). The three were only 0.057 apart though, with Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) the fourth man heading to Q2 another 0.060 in arrears.
By the end of Q2 though, it was a familiar name at the top: Friday’s fastest, Jorge Navarro. The Spaniard, who took his first intermediate class podium at COTA last time out, took Speed Up to the top for the first time since, incidentally, Fabio Quartararo in 2018. Marquez was within a tenth though, and Fernandez is pretty close company in third after his incredibly impressive day at the office.
Heading up Row 2 is ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team rider Remy Gardner as the Aussie got back on the pace after a tougher Texas, with Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) another impressive performer in fifth. Fastest rookie and after having missed Texas too, it’s a stunner from the Italian who was on pole in the lightweight class at the venue in 2016. Row 2 is locked out by Championship leader Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40) after a tougher weekend so far than expected, punctuated by crashes and some technical issues on Friday.
Fabio Di Giannantonio (HDR Heidrun Speed Up) took P7 and was only a single thousandth off Baldassarri for his best ever intermediate class qualifying so far, ahead of COTA winner Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) and Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team). Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) completes the top ten at the venue where he took his first Grand Prix win back in 2016 when he stormed from last to the victory in Moto3™.
Former Jerez winner Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2), Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 MArc VDS), Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46), Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) and Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team) complete the fastest fifteen on Saturday. But racing is a Sunday sport and plenty can be gained and lost under the midday sun in Spain, so make sure to watch the fourth race of the season at classic Jerez from 12:20 (GMT +2) local time.
Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) will start the Gran Premio Red Bull de España from his first ever pole position, taking the honour by an infinitesimal 0.004 seconds from second on the grid Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) in a tight session in Jerez. Impressive rookie Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) joins them on the front row after his best qualifying yet as well, with both he and Suzuki having gone from Q1 to front row.
A cloudier day greeted the grid on Saturday and there were a good few names in Q1 to keep an eye out for – including the two men who would go on to qualify near the top. Qatar winner Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia), preseason pace man Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) and Championship leader Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai) were other key players in a busy session, it all went down to the wire with Suzuki and Vietti joined in Q2 by Masia and his teammate Andrea Migno.
With the clock then reset for the session that would decide the top 18 on the grid, it was go time for Q2 and Dalla Porta, Suzuki and Vietti took to the top. They’re followed by a second row of Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse), Dennis Foggia (Sky Racing Team VR46) and Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3), with second in the Championship Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) pushed down to seventh. The Spaniard suffered some key drama in the session and encountered a mechanical problem, leaving him out of the battle for pole but fast enough on his first run to remain on the third row.
Eighth fastest was home hero Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing), with the returning Albert Arenas (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) in ninth and two-time Jerez winner Romano Fenati (VNE Snipers) completing the top ten. Behind them come Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing), Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PrustelGP), Migno and John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing), with Championship leader Jaume Masia down in fifteenth and looking for a fight back on Sunday.
Who can take the heat in Jerez? It’s still anyone’s game, so tune in at 11:00 (GMT+2) local time on Sunday as the lights go out for Moto3™.
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