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MotoGP Argentina: Espargaro stuns with maiden Aprilia pole

Aleix Espargaro secured his maiden pole position as part of the Aprilia project with a 1’37.688 lap around the Termas de Rio Hondo Circuit.

Denied the all-time lap record by just 0.005s, the celebrations were nonetheless in full flow for the Noale factory, with Maverick Viñales backing up the outstanding performance of the RS-GP from fifth.

Pramac Racing’s Jorge Martin claimed his third front row start of the season, in second, with Luca Marini rounding out the Parc Fermé celebrations for the second time in his premier class career.


Just ten minutes after free practice concluded, qualifying kicked off with some big hitters fighting for the final two promotion places. Championship leader Enea Bastianini opened the session with a 1’38.927 before Takaaki Nakagami denied him by a mere 0.014s. Fabio Di Giannantonio followed his Gresini teammate to third with Marco Bezzecchi and Darryn Binder behind before Miguel Oliveira and Pol Espargaro slotted in to third and fourth.

Pecco Bagnaia continued to struggle with his Ducati Lenovo GP22, the Italian having failed to set a competitive time and running 14th, and last, at the halfway stage. VR46 academy cohort Franky Morbidelli pushing his Yamaha M1 to fourth in the session, four-tenths adrift of Nakagami’s benchmark time with a 1’39.307.

Red sectors covered the timing screens with three minutes left on the clock, Bagnaia storming to the lead with a 1’38.610 and taking fellow Ducati man Bezzecchi with him to second before Nakagami replied, 0.087s faster overall.

Pol Espargaro rose to the occasion on his penultimate effort, a 1’38.501 clinching a Honda lockout for the two available promotions as Bastianini improved to third, a painful 0.043s adrift of Q2 and 0.065s off the fastest lap.

With time falling away and no challenge registering on his seventh attempt, Bagnaia failed to beat the flag for a final hot lap push. The 25-year-old forced to settle for 14th on the grid for Sunday’s 25-lap battle, Morbidelli one place behind and Mandalika winner Oliveira further back in 16th.

Q2 kicked off with drama for Joan Mir as the Suzuki GSX-RR failed to start. The team switching to the number two machine as the clock clicked down and the 2020 Champion finally rolled out four minutes behind the pack.

Espargaro claimed provisional pole with a 1’38.108 as the opening laps registered, Jack Miller crashing out from fourth at turn one with Martin and Fabio Quartararo ahead and Marini behind. Viñales sat sixth on the second Aprilia from Alex Rins, Brad Binder, Johann Zarco and Nakagami. Mir and Pol Espargaro yet to set a time at the halfway stage.

Zarco advanced to fifth with his fourth lap of the final session before Rins quickly demoted him back one position. The second Suzuki sandwiching him in the middle of the standings as the trio circulated on near identical 1’38.6 pace.

Nakagami was the first to improve as the final action unfolded, claiming fourth before the pack shuffled once again. Martin took control overall with a 1’37.839 lap but the Aprilia was on the move. Espargaro returning to command the standings with a 1’37.688.


A stunning ride from Marini found the Mooney VR46 in third to round out the front row celebrations from the younger Espargaro and Viñales with Quartararo settling for sixth. Suzuki locked out the front of row three with Rins over Mir as Zarco and Nakagami headed the disappointed duo of Miller and Binder.

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