Quartararo strikes again to Pole for Catalan GP

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Just 11 days after undergoing arm pump surgery in Barcelona, rookie sensation Fabio Quartararo has taken his second premier class pole position after beating Championship leader Marc Marquez to Q2 P1 by 0.015 at the Catalan GP, with Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Viñales completing the front row of the grid.

Under beautiful Barcelona skies, it was Viñales who led the field out for Q2 and tucked in behind the Spaniard was a certain Repsol Honda Team rider. Marquez was stalking the number 12 around the first flying lap but despite having a reference, it was Viñales who set the first benchmark, Marquez 0.2 slower.

But the seven-time World Champion put the hammer down on his second lap to go top of the times on a medium rear tyre, however, he wouldn’t hold the P1 baton for long as the Petronas Yamaha SRT duo exchanged quickest times, Q1 graduate Franco Morbidelli edging teammate Fabio Quartararo by 0.047 to lead the way after the first set of hot laps.

Danilo Petrucci was the man sitting on the outside of the provisional front row, but the Ducati man suffered a low-speed crash at Turn 5 to dent his chances of keeping that position. Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins, Free Practice’s fastest rider, sat fourth after the first flyers but when on track for a personal best time, the Spaniard tucked the front at Turn 10 to end his hopes of a first front row start of the year.

Viñales again led the 12-man strong Q2 lineup out for their last-ditch attempts to get pole and Yamaha rider shot to the top of the tree by the slenderest of margins – 0.001 edged Morbidelli back to second before another Yamaha rider struck. Quartararo hammered in a scintillating lap to go 0.2 clear of the field, but Marquez would quickly peg that deficit back to just 0.015.

Marquez – now on a soft rear - was now shadowing another Yamaha, this time Valentino Rossi was his target – The Doctor jumping to fifth as the pair crossed the line – but at Turn 4, the number 93’s charge for pole was all-but ended. Marquez did well to stay upright as the rear stepped out but it was game over, Quartararo would hold on for his second consecutive pole in Barcelona with Marquez settling for second. Viñales takes P3 to put Marquez in a Yamaha sandwich on the front row, but could he be in a spot of bother for blocking Quartararo in the final moments of the session? 

That 0.001 advantage for Viñales means Morbidelli misses out on a front row start at the Catalan GP after progressing through Q1, the YZR-M1 rider heads an all-Italian row two on Spanish soil. Rossi’s 1:39.753 means all four Yamahas are inside the top five, a phenomenal showing from the Iwata factory, with Andrea Dovizioso joining the duo on Row 2 in sixth after bettering his time on his second run.

 Viñales & Quartararo moment at end of Q2 under investigation

Petrucci slipped down to P7 after the second run, he leads a disappointed Rins on the grid, with LCR Honda Castrol’s Cal Crutchlow 0.667 back from pole in ninth. Jorge Lorenzo finished 0.048 off Crutchlow to line up tenth for his home Grand Prix, with two Spaniards joining the five-time World Champion on the fourth row. Q1 graduate Joan Mir earns an 11th place in Q2, with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pol Espargaro launching from P12.

A scorching qualifying sees Quartararo continue to defy the odds in his rookie MotoGP campaign. Just 11 days ago he was having surgery a few kilometres down the road, today he fends off a seven-time Champion for pole position. 24 laps will be a different kettle of fish for the Frenchman on Sunday though.

The Yamahas are on song, with Marquez, Dovizioso and Rins all looking equally as good for a podium shout. And what can Jack Miller do from P14? You don’t want to miss Round 7 of the season from the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, with the MotoGP race coming your way at 14:00 local time on Sunday (GMT+2).

Full Result:

Pos. Rider Bike Km/h Time Gap 1st/Prev.
1 Fabio QUARTARARO Yamaha 338.6 1'39.484  
2 Marc MARQUEZ Honda 345.6 1'39.499 0.015 / 0.015
3 Maverick VIÑALES Yamaha 336.3 1'39.710 0.226 / 0.211
4 Franco MORBIDELLI Yamaha 336 1'39.711 0.227 / 0.001
5 Valentino ROSSI Yamaha 338.5 1'39.753 0.269 / 0.042
6 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati 342.8 1'39.777 0.293 / 0.024
7 Danilo PETRUCCI Ducati 344.2 1'39.844 0.360 / 0.067
8 Alex RINS Suzuki 341 1'39.870 0.386 / 0.026
9 Cal CRUTCHLOW Honda 344.1 1'40.151 0.667 / 0.281
10 Jorge LORENZO Honda 343.2 1'40.199 0.715 / 0.048
11 Joan MIR Suzuki 341.4 1'40.240 0.756 / 0.041
12 Pol ESPARGARO KTM 340.2 1'40.425 0.941 / 0.185
13 Francesco BAGNAIA Ducati 343.8 1'40.167 0.440 / 0.155
14 Jack MILLER Ducati 344.1 1'40.271 0.544 / 0.104
15 Karel ABRAHAM Ducati 345 1'40.349 0.622 / 0.078
156 Takaaki NAKAGAMI Honda 339.3 1'40.362 0.635 / 0.013
17 Aleix ESPARGARO Aprilia 336.5 1'40.400 0.673 / 0.038
18 Johann ZARCO KTM 337.3 1'40.427 0.700 / 0.027
19 Tito RABAT Ducati 343.4 1'40.682 0.955 / 0.255
20 Miguel OLIVEIRA KTM 338.2 1'40.752 1.025 / 0.070
21 Hafizh SYAHRIN KTM 336.8 1'40.839 1.112 / 0.087
22 Bradley SMITH Aprilia 337 1'41.232 1.505 / 0.393
23 Sylvain GUINTOLI Suzuki 339.4 1'41.270 1.543 / 0.038
24 Andrea IANNONE Aprilia 336.7 1'41.748 2.021 / 0.478