Last minute drama, amazing pace from Independent Teams and some big reveals for race day characterise Saturday at Jerez.
Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) has claimed back-to-back pole positions at the Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto thanks to a 1:37.007 at the Gran Premio Red Bull de Andalucia, beating Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) to the honour as the number 12 had his fastest effort cancelled for exceeding track limits. The last minute slice of drama makes it three poles in a row at the venue for Quartararo after his rookie heroics in last year’s Spanish GP, and his fourth pole in a row stretching back to Sepang 2019. Completing the top three was an impressive performance from Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing), with the Italian taking his first premier class front row start and doing it as top Ducati to boot.
The session was set up for a duel from the off, and that’s what we got. Quartararo was hitting first and ultimately it all came down to Viñales: the gauntlet was thrown, a 1:37.007, but could the Spaniard hit back? The answer appeared to be yes and it was advantage Viñales, but not long after he crossed the line, the drama hit and the lap suddenly disappeared off the timing screens. Where he had seemed a tenth clear, the Spaniard was pushed down to second and the replay showed why: track limits. A small infraction but a clear one, the pole was handed to ‘El Diablo’.
Behind that, Bagnaia’s impressive pace from last weekend has only been increasing and the Italian made another step forward with a landmark first premier class front row, and less than a tenth off Viñales. He was also a nice little chunk of time clear of mentor of sorts Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), with the ‘Doctor’ bumped down to head the second row.
That second row is nevertheless a big leap forward for the nine-time World Champion after a tougher time out in the Spanish GP at times, and he beat a stunning performance from Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) to keep the Portuguese rider in fifth by only a couple of thousandths. It’s Oliveira’s best, however, and he’s top KTM after a slightly tougher Saturday afternoon for the Austria factory than promised. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) completes the second row.
Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) will be looking for revenge against his less experienced teammate Bagnaia from P7, and the Australian having only narrowly missed out on a podium last week so he’ll want a good launch off the line with, which his machinery may help. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) had another impressive session to join Miller on Row 3, with Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) locking that out in P9. The South African didn’t quite replicate his searing Friday, but he seems one to watch once the lights go out, with serious speed. He has also won from the back at Jerez in Moto3™ – a stat that becomes even more impressive considering no one has ever won from pole in the class…
Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) leads the Suzuki charge in tenth, with Hamamatsu factory teammate Alex Rins on the superhuman comeback from injury and starting 20th after managing a few more laps on Saturday. 11th went the way of Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team), with P12 filled by Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) after a heartbreakingly-timed crash in Q2. Rider ok, and ready to light it up again on Sunday as KTM’s pace continues to impress.
Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) put in a mammoth effort to go from surgery on a broken scaphoid only a few days ago to almost getting through from Q1, and he’ll start P13, ahead of a difficult day at the office for Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), who’ll be looking to launch forward. Johann Zarco (Hublot Reale Avintia Racing) starts P15.
That’s it from another scorching Saturday in Jerez, tune in for more action on Sunday with MotoE™ at 10:05 (GMT +2), Moto3™ next, Moto2™ after that… and then another stunning MotoGP™ battle at 14:00.
MotoGP™ front row
1 Fabio Quartararo – Petronas Yamaha SRT – Yamaha – 1:37.007
2 Maverick Viñales – Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP – Yamaha – +0.095
3 Francesco Bagnaia – Pramac Racing – Ducati – +0.169
Fabio Quartararo: “At the end today was really a good day for us, FP4 was so positive, we did 10 laps in a row with good pace which was important for us. But today I was so surprised to get pole position. I did a 36.9 and I thought ‘this will be a front row’. And at the end it was pole! So, happy. The conditions were strange because in FP4 it was really great, then in quali it was a bit windy and not so good, but I’m happy we got pole and have really good pace for tomorrow.”