Petronas Yamaha rookie Fabio Quartararo secured the second pole position of his first MotoGP season in Catalan Grand Prix qualifying at Barcelona.
Quartararo, who bagged his sole Moto2 win at the same venue last year and had arm pump surgery in the lead-up to this weekend, beat Honda’s championship leader Marc Marquez by 0.015 seconds.
The second Petronas rider Franco Morbidelli had suffered a heavy crash in the Saturday morning practice but then dominated the first qualifying segment, and took the early lead in Q2 with a 1m39.758s.
He and Quartararo had made it a Petronas Yamaha one-two after the first runs, and when the works Yamaha of Maverick Vinales then went 0.001s quicker than Morbidelli, Quartararo lowered the benchmark to a 1m49.484s.
Marquez slotted into second shortly afterwards, and while Quartararo came up a few hundredths short of his own benchmark on his final attempt, the reigning champion had a big moment at the long Turn 4 right-hander on his chequered-flag effort and had to settle for second.
Vinales secured his first front row start since Argentina in third, ahead of the fellow Yamahas of Morbidelli – who couldn’t improve on his second Q2 run – and Valentino Rossi.
Andrea Dovizioso moved up the order at the chequered flag to finish as the top Ducati in sixth, just ahead of works team-mate Danilo Petrucci – who had been third in the order when he crashed at the downhill Turn 5 left-hander.
Suzuki’s Alex Rins, quickest across practice, was another rider left to rue a crash, falling at the sharp Turn 10 left-hander late on and consigning himself to eighth on the grid.
LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow, works Honda man Jorge Lorenzo, Rins’ team-mate Joan Mir and the KTM of Pol Espargaro completed a Q2 pecking order split by just 0.941s.
Pramac Ducati rider Jack Miller had set the initial pace in Q1, but crashed immediately afterwards at Turn 5.
The Australian remounted his bike, returned to the pits, and would improve his lap time on his second run, but qualified only 14th in the end – a place behind rookie team-mate Francesco Bagnaia on the older-spec Desmosedici, the Italian having come up a tenth short of advancing to Q2 at Mir’s expense.
After his impressive Friday showing, LCR’s Takaaki Nakagami will only line up 16th on the grid, beaten also by the Avintia Ducati of Karel Abraham.
Aleix Espargaro qualified as the top Aprilia in 17th, with works team-mate Andrea Iannone last on the grid – also behind the team’s wildcard Bradley Smith – after his RS-GP slowed with a mechanical problem while exiting the pit garage on the second run.
|1||Fabio Quartararo||Petronas Yamaha||1m39.484s||–|
|4||Franco Morbidelli||Petronas Yamaha||1m39.711s||0.227s|
|9||Cal Crutchlow||LCR Honda||1m40.151s||0.667s|
|13||Francesco Bagnaia||Pramac Ducati||1m40.167s||–|
|14||Jack Miller||Pramac Ducati||1m40.271s||–|
|15||Karel Abraham||Avintia Ducati||1m40.349s||–|
|16||Takaaki Nakagami||LCR Honda||1m40.362s||–|
|19||Tito Rabat||Avintia Ducati||1m40.682s||–|
|20||Miguel Oliveira||Tech3 KTM||1m40.752s||–|
|21||Hafizh Syahrin||Tech3 KTM||1m40.839s||–|