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Qualifying report
MotoGP Spanish GP

MotoGP Spanish GP: Espargaro takes pole as Quartararo only 16th

Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro snatched a first pole of the 2023 MotoGP season in a rain-affected Spanish Grand Prix qualifying as Fabio Quartararo stumbled to 16th for Yamaha.

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team

Light rain prior to the start of the Q2 session turned qualifying on its head, with the sprinkling continuing as the riders headed out on track for the pole shootout.

In a Q2 session that saw provisional pole change hands 14 times across 15 minutes, Aprilia’s Espargaro nailed his final run to be one of the last across the line to start his last lap while conditions were at their best to produce a 1m37.216s.

This secured Espargaro pole by 0.221 seconds from KTM’s Jack Miller, while Pramac Ducati’s Jorge Martin completed the top three for the sprint race and grand prix.

Ducati’s Francesco Bagnaia salvaged a trip through Q1 to qualify fifth behind fellow Q1 graduate Brad Binder for KTM.

Q1 was a tight affair as several big hitters in the form of Bagnaia, championship leader Marco Bezzecchi and Yamaha’s Quartararo vied for a place in the pole shootout.

Bagnaia had hoped to get through Q1 on just a single soft tyre, but was forced to fit a second after ending his first run in fifth.

The Ducati rider rallied to end the session with a 1m36.493s to lead Binder, while Bezzecchi was denied a place in Q2 by just 0.037s.

Jack Miller, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

Jack Miller, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Having sat second in the early stages of Q1, Quartararo’s struggles on the Yamaha continued through the session and a 1m37.072s was only good enough for 16th – his worst MotoGP qualifying result at Jerez, his previous low a second in 2022.

As Q1 came to a close, light spots of rain started to fall as cracks of thunder reverberated around the Jerez area.

As Q2 got underway, all but Alex Marquez on the Gresini Ducati and Binder ventured out on slick tyres for a look at the conditions.

This proved to be the best tyre to be on as the rain eventually eased, with Miller setting the early pace on his KTM with a 1m43.003s.

Upon his switch to slicks, Marquez eased into the lead with a 1m42.675s, which he improved to a 1m41.682s.

With six minutes of the 15-minute Q2 remaining, the timing screens exploded with fastest sector times as conditions continued to improve.

Across the final six minutes, pole changed hands 12 times, with Espargaro the best of the bunch on his final lap with a 1m37.216s.

Jorge Martin, Pramac Racing

Jorge Martin, Pramac Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

This bested Miller, who seconds earlier put in a 1m37.437s to go top, with the Australian settling for second ahead of Martin, Binder and Bagnaia.

KTM wildcard Dani Pedrosa sat last in Q2 for most of the session, but a final effort on soft slicks put him sixth on the grid.

He beat RNF Aprilia’s Miguel Oliveira, Pramac’s Johann Zarco, VR46 Ducati’s Luca Marini and the sister factory Aprilia of Maverick Vinales.

Marquez faded to 12th at the chequered flag behind LCR Honda’s Takaaki Nakagami.

Yamaha’s Franco Morbidelli slotted himself in behind Bezzecchi in 14th on the grid, with Fabio Di Giannantonio splitting the Yamahas in 15th.

Raul Fernandez trailed Quartararo in 17th on his RNF Aprilia ahead of Americas GP winner Alex Rins on his LCR Honda.

Rins was the leading HRC runner in a miserable qualifying for the Japanese brand, with Honda wildcard Stefan Bradl and factory Honda rider Joan Mir slotting in behind him.

Tech3 GASGAS pair Augusto Fernandez and Jonas Folger, and Marc Marquez’s Honda stand-in Iker Lecuona completed the field.

Ducati’s Enea Bastianini withdrew from the rest of the event during FP3 as he continues to struggle with a shoulder injury.

MotoGP Spanish GP qualifying results:

Cla Rider Bike Time Gap Interval
1 Spain Aleix Espargaro Aprilia 1'37.216    
2 Australia Jack Miller KTM 1'37.437 0.221 0.221
3 Spain Jorge Martin Ducati 1'37.458 0.242 0.021
4 South Africa Brad Binder KTM 1'37.532 0.316 0.074
5 Italy Francesco Bagnaia Ducati 1'37.557 0.341 0.025
6 Spain Dani Pedrosa KTM 1'37.583 0.367 0.026
7 Portugal Miguel Oliveira Aprilia 1'37.596 0.380 0.013
8 France Johann Zarco Ducati 1'37.616 0.400 0.020
9 Italy Luca Marini Ducati 1'37.666 0.450 0.050
10 Spain Maverick Viñales Aprilia 1'37.765 0.549 0.099
11 Japan Takaaki Nakagami Honda 1'37.876 0.660 0.111
12 Spain Alex Marquez Ducati 1'37.920 0.704 0.044

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