Fabio Quartararo will start the CatalanGP from pole position for the fifth MotoGP in a row as he continued his stunning form at Barcelona this afternoon.
Controlling proceedings with his third lap of the afternoon, the Yamaha rider was joined by a pair of Ducatis as Jack Miller and Johann Zarco locked out the remaining front row spots on their final efforts. Valentino Rossi finished his second Q2 of the season in 11th place.
Miller and Marc Marquez faced the opening 15-minute fight as MotoGP qualifying launched into action at Montmeló as both the Repsol Honda riders followed the Ducati out of pitlane. The Australian making a joke as the eight-time world champ rode alongside and slotted in behind before putting his head down as he looked to drop him from the tow.
Iker Lecuona repeated his early FP3 showing by rising to the top of the standings with a 1’39.567 as the first laps were posted, Pol Espargaro sitting second ahead of Miller, Jorge Martin and Danilo Petrucci.
A mistake on Miller’s next P1-worthy effort saw the Ducati bail out before immediately regrouping, the returning rookie of Martin claiming second ahead of the Australian’s next effort hitting the spot, a 1’39.553 heading the times, 0.014s over the Tech3 with seven-minutes to go.
The final push began with three to go, Lecuona suffering a massive crash at turn nine as his KTM tucked the front and left the Spaniard in the gravel and against the barrier. Takaaki Nakagami took charge thanks to a 1’39.347 on his seventh lap before Miller instantly hit back, Espargaro and Marquez firmly on his wheels as the final laps unfolded. Miller took the session with Marquez sitting second but his teammate bettered by a fraction, Espargaro depositing the veteran Repsol rider out of Q2 contention by 0.011s. Nakagami trailed the two factory Hondas to finish Q1 in fourth from Martin and Lecuona as four-tenths covered the top-six. Enea Bastianini, Petrucci, Marini, Alex Marquez and Lorenzo Savadori concluded the standings with the Aprilia rider one-second off the pace in 21st.
Aiming for his fifth pole in succession, Quartararo bided him time before leaving pitlane, the remaining Yamaha’s heading out as one as soon as the green light allowed. Aleix Espargaro took first blood as the initial laps came in, before Quartararo moved the goal posts by almost half a second on his first attempt.
Morbidelli outmanoeuvred his factory cohort to take the lead with a 1’39.274 as his teammate crashed out at turn four, Valentino Rossi attempting to get back for the second bike before the session wound down. The Frenchman responded with a ’38.8 on his 2021 M1, another four-tenths clear of Morbidelli and Maverick Viñales in second and third. Aprilia’s Espargaro held fourth from the KTMs of Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira with Zarco, Pecco Bagnaia and Joan Mir leading Rossi and Miller with Espargaro yet to set a time after his Q1 promotion.
The second runs saw the Espargaro brothers trail Viñales with four-minutes to go with the Yamaha sitting up and rolling out of his first hot-lap but failing to better the tow. Quartararo maintained control as the next efforts came in, Miller rising to second as Oliveira claimed third and Morbidelli improved again to take fourth. Another big crash saw Miller hit the deck at turn three as Pol Espargaro did likewise at turn 10, the yellow flags flying as the final minute began.
Quartararo secured his fifth consecutive pole from Miller and a hard-charging late effort from Johann Zarco with Oliveira demoted to fourth in the dying seconds. Morbidelli and Viñales completed the second row from the Aprilia, Binder and Bagnaia with Mir, Rossi and Pol Espargaro on row four after the latter two’s crashes - the Suzuki rider having flirted with the front row before having his time deleted.