Bagnaia pips Viñales and Binder completes the front row as Martin faces a fight back in Austria.
MotoGP™ is ready to race in Austria after an intense qualifying session sets the stage for what promises to be some incredible racing action at the CryptoDATA Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) sent a message to his Championship rivals with an incredible 1:28.539 to deny on-form Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) pole position by hundredths, with Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) for close company in third as he hunts a Grand Prix victory on KTM’s home turf.
As ever, it went down to the wire, with some big hitters ready to battle it out for the top two spots and a chance at pole position in Q2. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), Enea Bastianini (Ducati Lenovo Team), and Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) were all favourites as the green flag dropped.
No one had shown Pol Espargaro (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3) that script though, and despite only recently returning from injury, the GASGAS rider was heading the session early on and then sat P2 behind Miller as the riders returned to the pits for a change of rubber.
On the second runs, just as it was proving difficult to topple the KTMs at the top of the session, Marini put in an absolute flyer to take the top spot and bump Espargaro out of the top two. Miller quickly responded as the Aussie moved the goalposts once again to pip the Italian to the top by 0.289s, and it was Miller and Marini who went through.
Pitlane opened for Q2 and as the sound of MotoGP™ roared through the Styrian hills, it was Viñales who led the charge after the first runs of laps, setting the first 1:28 of the session with his teammate Aleix Espargaro in the gravel trap, rider ok but session dented. Bagnaia and Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) then joined the Spaniard in the top three as the bikes rolled back into the pitlane.
Fresh rubber went in and it was crunch time at the Red Bull Ring. Viñales meant business as he slotted himself behind the pole-hound Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing), and Martin was first to move the goalposts. But Viñales was following and retook the top spot.
The KTMs put themselves well into the mix as the clock ticked down, before Bagnaia put in a Champions’ lap as he was just able to overhaul Viñales and take over on pole. A late-charge consolidated Binder’s important front row at KTM’s home circuit, and Miller isn’t far behind as he was only bumped down to P4 after Bagnaia’s stellar lap.
Martin, meanwhile, found himself 12th in Q2 after track limits scrubbed his laps, leaving the former winner and polesitter at the Red Bull Ring facing a fight back.
Behind the Bagnaia-Viñales-Binder front row, Miller takes P4 ahead of Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™), who was looking strong and starts from row two in P5. Marini will start from the edge of the second row with his teammate, Championship charger Marco Bezzecchi, starting in P7, despite setting the all-time lap record during Friday’s practice action.
Miguel Oliveira (CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP™ Team ) is beginning to get very comfortable on his Aprilia machine as he bagged P8 in Austria. Quartararo in 9th spot in what is looking to be a positive weekend for the Frenchman so far. Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) rounded out the top 10 in Q2 ahead of Aleix Espargaro who was riding his number two bike after crashing out during the first stint. Martin completes that Row 4.
The action has only just begun at the CryptoDATA Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich as points are now up for grabs in MotoGP™. Make sure to tune in as the story unfolds!