Not too fast for Fabio: rookie makes history as he takes pole in Jerez

Not too fast for Fabio: rookie makes history as he takes pole in Jerez 1Frenchman on fabulous form in Spain to take his first ever premier class pole position – and become the youngest to do so.

Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) has become the youngest ever MotoGP™ polesitter after a history maker of a day in the Gran Premio Red Bull de España, with the Frenchman breaking both the lap record and the pole position age record in Jerez. At 20 years and 14 days old he’s younger than the 20 years and 62 days of Marc Marquez’ (Repsol Honda Team) previous record at COTA set in 2013, and with a 1:36.880 he’s well inside the previous fastest ever lap of the track. Teammate Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) was close behind though, just 0.082 in arrears for his front row start in the premier class, and the two became the first to take a 1-2 for an Independent Team since Valencia 2005. That’s as well as taking the first pole and front row starts for their new Petronas Yamaha SRT team. Reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) completes the top three, and he says he’ll try and ensure his record as the youngest winner in the MotoGP™ class won’t go the same way as the pole record when the lights go out on Sunday…

Behind Quartararo on the grid is Championship leader Andrea Dovizioso (Mission Winnow Ducati), on the hunt for his first premier class podium at the last venue on the calendar where he’s yet to achieve one, with Q1 graduate Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) alongside him in fifth after a solid recovery from a tough morning – including a good showing in race-pace important FP4. Last year’s polesitter – and the previous lap record holder – is in sixth, as Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Crutchlow) bounced back from a crash in FP3 to complete the second row.

Next up is Danilo Petrucci (Mission Winnow Ducati) in P7 after the Italian was fastest on Friday, and despite a crash he has the Jerez Test’s fastest rider Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) and COTA winner Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) just behind him on the third row. Rookie Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) put in an impressive performance to complete the top ten after heading through from Q1 alongside Viñales.

11th place is a man to watch for on Sunday afternoon, and a man who’ll be hoping to reassert his reputation as the fastest starter in the field: Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team). With three premier class wins at Jerez, the number 99’s record is a very good one – and it’s a crash in Q2 that leaves him down the order, not a lack of outright pace. Meanwhile alongside him, Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) made it three of four rookies in Q2 for the first time this season and he starts in P12 near the five-time Champion.

In 13th, however, is one of the biggest headlines from Saturday: Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP). The ‘Doctor’ had a tough Saturday and was denied a chance at graduation to Q2 by VR46 Aademy rider Francesco Bagnaia…but Rossi has always brought the magic on race day. What can he achieve from P13?

Wildcard and HRC test rider Stefan Bradl (HRC Team) was in P14, with Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) just behind in P15. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), meanwhile, was just ahead of brother Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) as they took P16 and P17, but the Aprilia was inside Crutchlow’s 2018 lap record and the KTM only just over a tenth outside it – the top 16 able to better that laptime showing how incredible the level of competition is once again. And some of them will surely be looking to follow the ‘Doctor’ through the pack and get in the incredibly tight fight at the front in Jerez once the lights go out…

History was made on Saturday by Quartararo, and there’s plenty at stake on Sunday in a tantalising Spanish GP. The world’s fastest motorcycle racing Championship goes racing for the first time in Europe this season at 14:00 (GMT +2) local time at the classic Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto. Don’t miss it!

Qualifying results:
1 – Fabio Quartararo* (FRA – Yamaha) 1’36.880
2 – Franco Morbidelli* (ITA – Yamaha) +0.082
3 – Marc Marquez (SPA – Honda) +0.090

*Independent Team rider

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