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Qualifying report
MotoGP Catalan GP

MotoGP Catalan GP: Espargaro takes home pole, Marquez only 14th

Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro snatched pole position for the MotoGP Catalan Grand Prix with a new lap record on the weekend he announced his retirement.

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team

On Thursday ahead of this weekend’s sixth round of the 2024 season, Espargaro grabbed a first pole of the season with a new lap record of 1m38.190s at the end of a dramatic Q2.

Espargaro hailed the pole laps as “the best of my life”, saying: “I don’t have 100 pole position in my career, so even if it’s just one Saturday at my home GP it’s amazing to achieve the pole and especially fighting with Pecco [Bagnaia], because with the first tyre the time he proposed was amazing.

“When I came back to the garage I said, ‘oh my God, with the first tyre at 1m38.2s, we’re going to have to go 1m37s’.

“And with the second tyre I made many mistakes on the first flying lap and on the second flying lap it was probably the best lap of my life.”

For much of the session, it looked like reigning world champion Francesco Bagnaia would take pole on the factory Ducati having set the best pace at the end of the first runs of Q2.

But a blistering final lap from Espargaro saw him snatch the position away by 0.031 seconds from Bagnaia, while Trackhouse Racing’s Raul Fernandez was third.

Championship leader Jorge Martin crashed his Pramac Ducati late on at Turn 2 and was left in seventh.

Failing to get out Q1 for the second round in a row, Gresini’s Marc Marquez will have to start from 14th for this weekend’s sprint and grand prix.

Marc Marquez, Gresini Racing

Marc Marquez, Gresini Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Ducati’s Enea Bastianini set the reference lap at the start of the 15-minute Q2 at 1m40.335s, though the lap record had already been bested in the preceding Q1 session by Fabio Di Giannantonio with the 1m38.208s that knocked Marquez out.

On his first flying lap, Martin put in a 1m38.401s to go 0.374s clear of the field, before Pedro Acosta bettered this with a 1m38.369s on his Tech3 GasGas.

Seconds later, Bagnaia put in a 1m38.221s with around nine minutes remaining to assume control of the session.

After a brief lull on track as the riders took on fresh rubber, Bagnaia’s pole was given a degree of comfort when Martin crashed at Turn 2 with just over two minutes to go.

The Pramac rider lost the front as he changed direction into the Turn 2 right-hander, while team-mate Franco Morbidelli slid off behind him – albeit later into the corner.

Bagnaia was unable to improve on his second run laps, while Espargaro leaped up to second on his penultimate tour before setting the best first sector of the session on his final lap.

Espargaro kept his sector split times up and came through to post a 1m39.190s to beat Bagnaia and Binder, who crashed twice on Friday.

However, Fernandez – who came through Q1 – had a lap good enough for third reinstated after it was initially cancelled for being set under yellow flags, giving both rider and Trackhouse Racing its first front row in MotoGP.

Raul Fernandez, Trackhouse Racing Team

Raul Fernandez, Trackhouse Racing Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Binder now heads row two in fourth from Acosta and Q1 pacesetter Di Giannantonio (VR46 Ducati), while Jorge Martin is seventh.

Martin will start ahead of Yamaha’s Alex Rins and KTM’s Jack Miller.

The top 12 was completed by Morbidelli, Bastianini and the sister factory team Aprilia of Maverick Vinales.

Alex Marquez put in a lap at the end of Q1 that put him ahead of his brother and Gresini team-mate Marc Marquez in 13th.

Fabio Quartararo struggled to 17th on his Yamaha, with Johann Zarco top Honda on his LCR-run bike despite a crash at the end of Q1.

Q2 results:

   
1
 - 
5
   
   
1
 - 
2
   
Cla Rider # Bike Laps Time Interval km/h Speed Trap
1 Spain A. Espargaro Aprilia Racing Team 41 Aprilia 7

1'38.190

  173.308 349
2 Italy F. Bagnaia Ducati Team 1 Ducati 8

+0.031

1'38.221

0.031 173.254 349
3 South Africa B. Binder Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 33 KTM 8

+0.144

1'38.334

0.113 173.055 352
4 Spain P. Acosta Tech 3 31 KTM 8

+0.179

1'38.369

0.035 172.993 352
5 Italy F. Di Giannantonio Team VR46 49 Ducati 8

+0.210

1'38.400

0.031 172.939 349
6 Spain J. Martin Pramac Racing 89 Ducati 5

+0.211

1'38.401

0.001 172.937 350
7 Spain R. Fernández Trackhouse Racing Team 25 Aprilia 7

+0.401

1'38.591

0.190 172.603 350
8 Spain A. Rins Yamaha Factory Racing 42 Yamaha 7

+0.502

1'38.692

0.101 172.427 349
9 Australia J. Miller Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 43 KTM 7

+0.573

1'38.763

0.071 172.303 350
10 Italy F. Morbidelli Pramac Racing 21 Ducati 5

+0.588

1'38.778

0.015 172.277 349
11 Italy E. Bastianini Ducati Team 23 Ducati 8

+0.670

1'38.860

0.082 172.134 350
12 Spain M. Viñales Aprilia Racing Team 12 Aprilia 6

+0.782

1'38.972

0.112 171.939 347

Q1 results:

   
1
 - 
5
   
   
1
 - 
2
   
Cla Rider # Bike Laps Time Interval km/h Speed Trap
1 Italy F. Di Giannantonio Team VR46 49 Ducati 8

1'38.208

  173.277 351
2 Spain R. Fernández Trackhouse Racing Team 25 Aprilia 8

+0.245

1'38.453

0.245 172.845 349
3 Spain A. Marquez Gresini Racing 73 Ducati 8

+0.322

1'38.530

0.077 172.710 348
4 Spain M. Marquez Gresini Racing 93 Ducati 8

+0.328

1'38.536

0.006 172.700 351
5 Portugal M. Oliveira Trackhouse Racing Team 88 Aprilia 8

+0.343

1'38.551

0.015 172.674 354
6 Italy M. Bezzecchi Team VR46 72 Ducati 8

+0.454

1'38.662

0.111 172.479 355
7 France F. Quartararo Yamaha Factory Racing 20 Yamaha 8

+0.497

1'38.705

0.043 172.404 349
8 France J. Zarco Team LCR 5 Honda 7

+0.770

1'38.978

0.273 171.929 351
9 Spain A. Fernandez Tech 3 37 KTM 8

+0.912

1'39.120

0.142 171.682 355
10 Japan T. Nakagami Team LCR 30 Honda 8

+0.948

1'39.156

0.036 171.620 347
11 Spain J. Mir Repsol Honda Team 36 Honda 7

+1.316

1'39.524

0.368 170.985 351
12 Italy L. Marini Repsol Honda Team 10 Honda 8

+1.413

1'39.621

0.097 170.819 348
13 Germany S. Bradl HRC Test Team 6 Honda 8

+2.068

1'40.276

0.655 169.703 349

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