Styria MotoGP: Pol Espargaro secures first pole position for KTM

Pol Espargaro stormed to his and KTM's first MotoGP pole in a frantic Styrian Grand Prix qualifying, while Valentino Rossi was only 15th after a crash

Styria MotoGP: Pol Espargaro secures first pole position for KTM

In a season in which KTM achieved its first win courtesy of Brad Binder, Espargaro gave the Austrian marque its maiden pole in a qualifying session on home soil in which the Q2 order was split by just 0.594 seconds.

Fabio Quartararo set the pace after the opening salvo of laps with a 1m24.479s, with Alex Rins taking over top spot with a 1m24.461s soon after.

Maverick Vinales made his claim to a second-successive Red Bull Ring pole with a 1m24.217s, though this was cancelled for exceeding track limits, which briefly promoted Franco Morbidelli on the Petronas SRT Yamaha to pole.

That was short-lived, however, as Quartararo and then Espargaro shot to the top of the order.

He stayed top the pile for all of 40 seconds, with LCR's Takaaki Nakagami setting the benchmark at 1m23.602s on the year-old Honda at the end of the first runs.

The Japanese rider's time survived until the closing two minutes, when Espargaro dug deep to produce a 1m23.580s to take his first pole since his final Moto2 race back in 2013.

Nakagami put Espargaro's lap under serious threat on his final effort, but the lap was scrubbed because he exceeded track limits, resigning him to a career-best second.

The injured Johann Zarco came through Q1 having sat out Friday's running due to being unable to take his fitness test on his wrist until Friday afternoon following surgery on Wednesday.

Setting the pace in Q1, Zarco stormed to third on his Avintia Ducati, but will be unable to take up that slot on Sunday due to a pitlane start penalty for causing the horror collision with Morbidelli last week in the Austrian GP.

This will promote Suzuki's Joan Mir to the front row having ended Q2 fourth ahead of Pramac's Jack Miller, who was battling pain in his right shoulder from his FP3 crash.

Vinales completed the top six on his works Yamaha, beating the sister Suzuki of Rins and Tech3's Miguel Oliveira.

Austrian GP winner Andrea Dovizioso will have work to do from eighth having only qualified ninth, with Quartararo slipping to 10th on his SRT machine ahead of Morbidelli and Q1 graduate Danilo Petrucci on the Ducati.

Tech3's Iker Lecuona was dealt late heartbreak in Q1 when Petrucci dumped him out of a place in Q2 for the first time, with the Spanish rookie just 0.156s outside of the Q1 promotions slots at the end of the session.

Lecuona did claim some big scalps in fellow KTM rider and Brno winner Brad Binder, while Valentino Rossi was only 15th on his factory Yamaha after crashing at Turn 9 on a final lap which was set to move him into a Q2 place.

All riders who failed to lift themselves out of Q1 will of course be promoted a spot on the grid courtesy of Zarco's penalty.

MotoGP Styria qualifying results

Pos Rider Team Gap
1 Pol Espargaro KTM 1m23.580s
2 Takaaki Nakagami LCR Honda 0.022s
3 Johann Zarco Avintia Ducati 0.052s
4 Joan Mir Suzuki 0.098s
5 Jack Miller Pramac Ducati 0.120s
6 Maverick Vinales Yamaha 0.198s
7 Alex Rins Suzuki 0.202s
8 Miguel Oliveira Tech3 KTM 0.217s
9 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 0.269s
10 Fabio Quartararo Petronas Yamaha 0.286s
11 Franco Morbidelli Petronas Yamaha 0.441s
12 Danilo Petrucci Ducati 0.594s

shares
comments
Zarco, Bagnaia will stay with Ducati in MotoGP in 2021
Previous article

Zarco, Bagnaia will stay with Ducati in MotoGP in 2021

Next article

MotoGP champion Marquez ruled out for two to three months by arm injury

MotoGP champion Marquez ruled out for two to three months by arm injury
Load comments
Why a difficult 2021 hasn't broken one Honda MotoGP ace's resolve Plus

Why a difficult 2021 hasn't broken one Honda MotoGP ace's resolve

Pol Espargaro’s switch to Honda for 2021 was one of MotoGP’s biggest rider market shocks. But a difficult bike coupled with various external factors led to a difficult first campaign. As a critical 2022 campaign for both Espargaro and Honda looms, his 2021 experience hasn’t dented his long-held resolve

MotoGP
Jan 17, 2022
The Drive to Survive mistakes MotoGP must avoid in 2022 Plus

The Drive to Survive mistakes MotoGP must avoid in 2022

OPINION: MotoGP will get its own Drive to Survive-style series in 2022, airing on Amazon Prime Video. It’s a much-needed grab at the mainstream for MotoGP, but a paradigm shift in the series highlighted by one of its leading stars must be embraced and not overshadowed by a desire to replicate DTS’s popcorn drama

MotoGP
Jan 10, 2022
Why KTM's latest young outcast is a cautionary tale for MotoGP Plus

Why KTM's latest young outcast is a cautionary tale for MotoGP

Iker Lecuona’s absence from the 2022 MotoGP grid after losing his KTM ride will likely pass most onlookers by. But after just 30 race starts in a MotoGP move he was sucked into by circumstance, the World Superbike-bound 21-year-old's story should act as a warning to KTM - and MotoGP as a whole - in regards to its future stars

MotoGP
Jan 4, 2022
How Ducati's expanded roster will threaten MotoGP's balance in 2022 Plus

How Ducati's expanded roster will threaten MotoGP's balance in 2022

That Ducati will compete with eight prototypes in MotoGP this year is nothing new, having already done so between 2016 and 2018. But the involvement and coverage of the Borgo Panigale company in its alliances is now much greater than in past years, which could have the effect of unbalancing the premier class

MotoGP
Jan 3, 2022
Ranking the top 10 MotoGP riders of 2021 Plus

Ranking the top 10 MotoGP riders of 2021

Eight different riders won races across an ultra-competitive 2021 MotoGP season. Although Fabio Quartararo wrapped up the title with two rounds to go, the Yamaha rider had strong competition from the revitalised Ducati factory team and the world championship's returning king. Autosport picks out the year's 10 best riders

MotoGP
Dec 23, 2021
How Quartararo cast aside prior doubts to become MotoGP's new king Plus

How Quartararo cast aside prior doubts to become MotoGP's new king

Doubts were cast over Yamaha’s French recruit after his disastrous end to the 2020 MotoGP season with Petronas SRT, but Fabio Quartararo answered them convincingly in 2021 to claim a MotoGP title that exhibited both his devastating speed and mental strength

MotoGP
Dec 7, 2021
The Rossi-less future MotoGP must now navigate Plus

The Rossi-less future MotoGP must now navigate

Motorcycle racing's greatest showman has left the stage, as Valentino Rossi calls time on his remarkable career on two wheels. But in his successors, all of whom were inspired by 'the Doctor', grand prix racing has vibrant new acts to keep us hooked

MotoGP
Dec 4, 2021
Valentino Rossi’s 10 greatest MotoGP races Plus

Valentino Rossi’s 10 greatest MotoGP races

As the Italian legend finally bows out and retires from MotoGP, it marks the end of one of the most incredible careers in motorsport history. Here is Autosport’s pick of his best rides and the stories behind them

MotoGP
Dec 3, 2021