Marquez takes pole, Yamaha on the chase at MotorLand

Marquez takes pole, Yamaha on the chase at MotorLand 1Quartararo keeps the reigning Champion honest, but it’s not enough to deny Marquez a 61st MotoGP™ pole.

Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) showed no signs of letting go of his stranglehold on the Gran Premio Michelin® de Aragon on Saturday afternoon, with the reigning Champion taking his 61st premier class pole position in 122 races – taking him back to an incredible 50% ratio. It’s his fifth pole at MotorLand, although Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) kept pulses racing until right at the end of the session as he set three red sectors in a row, only losing out in the final part of the lap. He’ll start second, with Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) completing the front row.

The promised – or threatened, depending on perspective – rain came down on Saturday morning, but it didn’t stay around too long. It was enough to put paid to anyone’s chance of improving their lap time in FP3 however, with the likes of Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) therefore sure of a trip to Q1. And in Q1 it was a surprise to see the Suzuki man knocked out, with Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) taking to the top and joined in Q2 by an impressive Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini).

With Q2 underway – featuring two Aprilias for the first time in MotoGP™ – the fastest laptime cycled through a few different names before Marquez’ second lap shot him to the top, deposing Quartararo, who had deposed Viñales.

On their second runs, Viñales struck back against Quartararo but the gap to Marquez remained over four tenths…made even worse as the number 93 crossed the line only just behind Viñales’ Yamaha and improved his time even further. It seemed like all was said and done in the fight for pole after that show of pace, but Quartararo had other ideas.

On his final flying lap, the rookie was over a tenth in the red after the first split. Were we about to witness one of the upsets of the season? After the second split, the 20-year-old’s advantage was hovering around a tenth and at the third, there was nothing to choose between Quartararo and Marquez. With only the final sector to go – one that’s been tougher for the Yamaha – could ‘El Diablo’ keep those few thousandths? In the end, he couldn’t, with Marquez secure on pole – but Quartararo will line up second after taking an awesome eighth front row start of his rookie season, edging ahead of Viñales to make it two Yamahas joining the Repsol Honda on the front row.

Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) took P4 and heads up Row 2 as the highest-placed Ducati rider, with Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) putting in a blinder to take P5 and Aprilia’s best qualifying since Japan 2017. Nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) managed to launch himself from the lower echelons on his final run, with the ‘Doctor’ taking P6 as he completes the second row.

Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) spearheads Row 3, the British rider leading Q1 pacesetter Morbidelli and Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar), with the Suzuki-riding rookie out-qualifying teammate Rins for the second time this year despite a crash in FP4.

Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) completes the top ten after a tougher day at the office, with Andrea Iannone battling through the pain barrier after his crash at Misano to take P11.

Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), meanwhile, crashed in FP4 and suffered a fractured left wrist, meaning the number 44 will sadly miss the rest of his home Grand Prix. That will move Rins up to P12, with Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Castrol) and Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) just behind.

Can anyone beat Marquez in Aragon? Some of the men with the best pace start close to the reigning Champion on Sunday. Tune in for the MotoGP™ race at the slightly earlier time of 13:00 (GMT +2) to find out…

Qualifying results:
1 – Marc Marquez (SPA – Honda) 1’47.009
2 – Fabio Quartararo* (FRA – Yamaha) +0.327
3 – Maverick Viñales (SPA – Yamaha) +0.463

*Independent Team rider

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