MotoGP Catalan GP: Aprilia’s Espargaro storms to pole with lap record

Aleix Espargaro converted his scotching practice pace into pole position for the MotoGP Catalan Grand Prix with a new circuit lap record to see off Francesco Bagnaia’s late charge.

MotoGP Catalan GP: Aprilia’s Espargaro storms to pole with lap record

The Aprilia rider produced a new lap record of Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona earlier in the day in third free practice, and duly repeated the feat with a 1m38.742s with his penultimate lap in qualifying.

But the home hero was made to sweat over top spot with Ducati’s Bagnaia on a charge with his final flying effort, while Espargaro ran on at Turn 10 on his final lap, but the Italian missed out by 0.031s.

It marks Espargaro’s second pole of the season, and fourth of his MotoGP career, to keep him as hot favourite for Catalan GP victory having produced stunning race pace in practice.

MotoGP world championship leader Quartararo, who set the provisional pole time after the first runs as just 0.012s split the top three, had to settle for third place on the factory Yamaha.

Fellow French rider Johann Zarco just missed out on the front row for Pramac Ducati in fourth place, as Mugello polesitter Fabio Di Giannantonio impressed again in qualifying with fifth place for Gresini.

Jorge Martin was bumped to the back of the second row as a result for Pramac Ducati, but he remained in front of Suzuki’s Alex Rins, while Q1 graduate Maverick Vinales claimed his best qualifying result since the Argentina round with eighth place on his Aprilia.

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

VR46’s Luca Marini claimed ninth place in front of Honda’s Pol Espargaro, with Ducati’s Jack Miller and LCR’s Takaaki Nakagami completing the fourth row.

Marco Bezzecchi was edged out in Q1 by Nakagami, with the LCR rider displacing the VR46 rider by just 0.017s on his final lap, as Vinales topped the session for Aprilia.

Bezzecchi will duly start the race from 13th, just ahead of Enea Bastianini whose qualifying problems persisted as he was unable to replicate the timesheet-topping pace for Gresini, but he did keep ahead of factory KTM duo Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira.

Joan Mir’s woes continued for Suzuki and he’ll start tomorrow’s race from 17th place, in front of Franco Morbidelli, Andrea Dovizioso and Remy Gardner.

Marc Marquez’s stand-in Stefan Bradl could only manage 21st for the factory Honda squad, ahead of Ducati wildcard Michele Pirro, RNF Racing’s Darryn Binder and Tech3’s Raul Fernandez.

Alex Marquez missed qualifying after suffering a heavy fall at the final corner in the closing minutes of final practice, resulting in the LCR rider taking a trip to the medical centre for a check-up.

Results:

Cla Rider Bike Time Gap Interval
1 Spain Aleix Espargaro Aprilia 1'38.742    
2 Italy Francesco Bagnaia Ducati 1'38.773 0.031 0.031
3 France Fabio Quartararo Yamaha 1'38.959 0.217 0.186
4 France Johann Zarco Ducati 1'39.027 0.285 0.068
5 Italy Fabio Di Giannantonio Ducati 1'39.099 0.357 0.072
6 Spain Jorge Martin Ducati 1'39.142 0.400 0.043
7 Spain Alex Rins Suzuki 1'39.145 0.403 0.003
8 Spain Maverick Viñales Aprilia 1'39.397 0.655 0.252
9 Italy Luca Marini Ducati 1'39.451 0.709 0.054
10 Spain Pol Espargaro Honda 1'39.477 0.735 0.026
11 Australia Jack Miller Ducati 1'39.523 0.781 0.046
12 Japan Takaaki Nakagami Honda 1'39.611 0.869 0.088
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