MotoGP Catalunya: Espargaro’s dream continues with record-breaking pole

| | MotoGP
Picture: GeeBee Images

The celebrations roared for Aleix Espargaro as the Aprilia rider claimed pole position with another record-breaking lap at his home Grand Prix.

The all-time MotoGP circuit record at Barcelona-Catalunya now stands at 1’38.742 after the Granollers local denied Ducati Lenovo’s Pecco Bagnaia by 0.031s in a rapid qualifying performance with Monster Energy Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo completing the Parc Fermé trio.

The battle for the final two promotion places fired up with Maverick Viñales, Enea Bastianini, Joan Mir and Franky Morbidelli in the 15-rider hunt. The Suzuki rider running straight on in his first hot lap having just saved a moment at turn ten during FP4.

Mooney VR46’s Marco Bezzecchi held court after the initial efforts with a 1’39.942 from Vinales before the Italian improved again three-tenths quicker on the next revolution, this time with Morbidelli following. The Aprilia rider struck back to take control with a 1’39.5, Takaaki Nakagami circulating third from Bastianini and Morbidelli with Mir in sixth at the halfway stage. Tech3’s Remy Gardner sitting best of the rest in seventh ahead of Factory KTM riders Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira with second rookie Darryn Binder topping Repsol replacement Stefan Bradl and his WithU teammate Andrea Dovizioso. Aruba.it Ducati’s Michele Pirro and Tech3’s Raul Fernandez completing the pack with LCR’s Alex Marquez out of action and being checked in the medical centre following a massive crash at turn 14 late on in FP4.

Two minutes to go and it was a KTM lockout at the top as Binder headed Oliveira before Bastianini split the pair and Bezzecchi bettered overall. The Italian demoted to the final promotion place as Viñales arrived with a 1’39.216, 0.024s clear of the VR46. Nakagami finding fifth on his penultimate effort as the Portuguese rider dropped to sixth.

Late charges found Nakagami claim second as the margins refined even further. The top five covered by just 0.033s as Bezzecchi Bastianini and Binder settled for third through fifth.

The pole shootout found just Aprilia, Ducati Lenovo and Prima Pramac fielding a full team in the top 12 as the 15-minute session began. Both Q1 promotees were first out the blocks and on 1’39 pace before Quartararo led the way with a 1’39.055 from Jorge Martin and Suzuki’s Alex Rins.

Ducati power locked out the provisional second row until Bagnaia struck for second, 0.01s off his title rival. Johann Zarco leading Fabio di Giannantonio in fifth and sixth as Aleix Espargaro joined the painfully close battle out front, 0.012s adrift in third.

Second runs ignited, Bagnaia pitched for his third pole of the year with a 1’38.787, achingly close to Espargaro’s record. The Spaniard bettering both his rival and his own previous best to set another all-time lap with a 1’38.742. Bagnaia striving for more with his final attempt before narrowly falling short with his last personal best to consolidate second ahead of Quartararo in third.

Zarco headed the second row Ducati trio as di Giannantonio continued his impressive qualifying run in fifth from Martin. Rins, Vinales and Luca Marini completed row three while Pol Espargaro, Jack Miller and Nakagami rounded out the fastest 12.

Click here for times