A rapid and intense MotoGP qualifying saw Ducati Lenovo victorious as Pecco Bagnaia claimed pole position with a new all-time lap record at MotorLand Aragon.
Jack Miller completed the celebrations in second with Yamaha’s hard-charging Fabio Quartararo settling for third.
Premier class qualifying kicked off with multiple big-hitters facing a Q1 fight as Johann Zarco, Cal Crutchlow and Alex Rins took on Valentino Rossi, Maverick Viñales and both Red Bull KTM’s among the 12-strong session.
Rins took charge as the initial laps came in with Zarco taking over and Alex Marquez slotting in between the pair.
The Frenchman’s 1’47.327 sat just under four-tenths clear of Brad Binder as the KTM recorded his first hot-lap, Luca Marini heading off Yamaha’s test rider and his elder brother at the halfway stage. Rins returned for a second bite but fell short of the two promotion places, in third.
Jake Dixon opening his second qualifying account in 11th, four-tenths behind Viñales and 1.3 seconds off the outright pace with a respectable 1’48.669 effort.
The final push allowed progress for Aprilia’s new signing, the Spaniard sitting third, 0.097s back from Binder as the penultimate minute unfolded. Danilo Petrucci and Alex Marquez bettering the time before Iker Lecuona, and Binder once again went faster.
The top six riders all lit the timing screens red as their final laps began, Zarco increasing the distance with a 1’47.293 to stay top. As the flag came out the standings, below the Pramac man, shuffled. Binder securing the final promotion place just 0.051s off the flying frenchman with disaster striking the Suzuki, and last year’s victor, down in 10th.
A massive improvement for Dixon saw the Brit, albeit last, only eighth-tenths adrift with a 1’48.146, his Petronas teammate Rossi less than three-tenths ahead, with the factory Yamaha of Crutchlow setting for fifth.
Ducati power was on show once again as Q2 fired up. Bagnaia leading his Lenovo teammate to the top of the standings with a 1’46.908, Marc Marquez slotting in between the two with a ’47.1 moments later but it was Jorge Martin who was on a mission. The Pramac rider storming the times with a 1’46.878 on his first flying lap.
The threatening presence of Quartararo, however, was looming closer as the Yamaha pulled the plug at the halfway stage. 1’46.727 the outcome, just a tenth off Marquez’ 2015 circuit record, for a dominant provisional pole.
The second runs geared up as the session neared its climax, Bagnaia the first to strike with a blistering 1’46.322 to take the all-time lap record with two minutes left to run. The answer looked to be coming before Quartararo lost time in the second sector, the championship leader pulling out before regrouping for another go.
Enea Bastianini continued his impressive Spanish weekend in sixth, demoting Joan Mir before the Suzuki’s final effort hit back and returned him onto the second row but the action was far from complete.
The dying seconds saw Marquez claim a front row start, in third, as Quartararo improved his time but settled for second. Miller throwing in a late-session bomb to lock out the top two for the Bologna factory as the eight-time champ was dropped to fourth.
Martin and Aleix Espargaro completed the second row as the session concluded, Mir forced to head row three from Pol Espargaro and Bastianini while Zarco, Takaaki Nakagami and Binder completed the top 12.