The Italian carves out his own postcode for pole in Aragon, with Miller making it a Ducati 1-2 and Quartararo alongside.
Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) put in an absolute stunner at the Gran Premio TISSOT de Aragon to set pole position, the Italian taking Ducati to the milestone of 50 premier class poles and beating a lap record that’s been sitting unthreatened since 2015. He also was the only one to do so, with three and a half tenths in hand over teammate Jack Miller. The Australian has closer company from Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) as the Championship leader took third, denied P2 by only hundredths.
Q1 saw a few surprises. First, the rider with the best record across the two events at MotorLand last season, Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar), didn’t manage to make an impression and ended the session in tenth – which corresponds to P20 on the grid. He’ll have a big mountain to climb on Sunday from his equal worst MotoGP™ qualifying.
At the opposite end of the Q1 timesheets, Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) moved through on top. The Frenchman said he’s struggling a little with arm pump but his 1:47.293 was the best of the session, beating Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) by just 0.051. The South African had a more comfortable 0.164 in hand over fellow KTM rider Iker Lecuona (Tech 3 KTM Factory Racing) as the number 27 was the first to miss out.
In the first three splits Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) had been on the money, with two red sectors and then a yellow, still within hundredths, but the final sector saw him lose out and the number 12 will start from P19.
Bagnaia laid down a big benchmark initially, before Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) hit the top as he just edged out the Italian. Then came Quartararo, and this time the margin was a little bigger as he pulled out 0.151.
On the final runs though, the red sectors were flying in and again, it was Bagnaia first – and again by a sizeable chunk of time. He was a whopping 0.405 ahead as he crossed the line with two minutes left on the clock, laying down the gauntlet.
The only red sectors then were coming from Quartararo, but ultimately no one could come close. And in the end, Miller snuck into second too – edging El Diablo out by just 0.031 as the Frenchman lost time later in the lap and Miller gained it.
Reigning Champion Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) ended his final flyer with a frustrated gesture as he headed off into the Turn 1 runoff after crossing the line, taking P7 in the end, with Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) following close behind him and making good gains to move onto the provisional front row. But that was scuppered by Miller’s late lunge, with the number 93 shuffled down to fourth.
A Ducati 1-2 sees Bagnaia and Miller spearhead the MotorLand grid, with Quartararo on the outside of the front row. Marc Marquez lines up at the head of Row 2, with top Independent Team rider Martin alongside him – just 0.005 ahead of Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) as the Silverstone podium finisher completes the second row.
Despite Mir’s remonstrations, the Suzuki rider took seventh and put in a solid qualifying, staying ahead of Silverstone polesitter Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) by 0.032. They have Enea Bastianini (Avintia Esponsorama) for company as the reigning Moto2™ World Champion impressed at MotorLand on both Friday and Saturday, taking his best premier class grid position yet after going straight through to Q2 for the first time.
Zarco was forced to settle for tenth in Q2 and wants a lot more on Sunday, with Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) and Binder for company on the fourth row.
The likes of Rins and Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol), podium finisher last year at MotorLand, will be looking to charge through early, and Mir will be keen to get the hammer down. The holeshot heroes of Borgo Panigale most definitely aim to stand in their way. Marc Marquez, meanwhile, made some statements with his FP4 pace and fourth on the grid is one better than where he qualified in Germany… where Sunday went pretty ok, as an understatement, for the eight-time World Champion.
23 laps of MotorLand Aragon await, so make sure to tune in as the lights go out for the MotoGP™ race at 14:00 (GMT +2)… a little more history may be made!
MotoGP™ front row
1 Francesco Bagnaia – Ducati Lenovo Team – Ducati – 1:46.322
2 Jack Miller – Ducati Lenovo Team – Ducati – +0.366
3 Fabio Quartararo – Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP – Yamaha – +0.397
Top Independent Team rider
5 Jorge Martin – Pramac Racing – Ducati – +0.556
Francesco Bagnaia: “I’m very happy. I started this weekend with a lot of questions about this track because I struggle every year, my best result was in Moto2, finishing second, but that was the only year I was competitive here. Since when I started in FP1 in the first session, the feeling was already great, I was happy about the bike, and I didn’t touch anything in the settings, the bike is still the same and I just improved our pace. In FP4 we were very competitive, and in qualifying we did an incredible lap. The last sector I just entered as fast as I could in the last corner and the bike let me turn. It was incredible, the laptime. This is the sixth year that Marquez’ record was remaining, and this is the first time we beat it, and I’m happy about that too.”
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