Marquez takes pole by 0.391s at Aragon

Marc Marquez does it again
Marc Marquez does it again

Repsol Honda Team ace Marc Marquez showed no signs of letting up his Gran Premio Michelin de Aragon stranglehold after taking pole position on Saturday afternoon – his 9th pole of the year. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) claimed P2, 0.327 off Marquez, with Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) closing out the front row.

The previously forecasted rain was nowhere to be seen as the premier class riders glistened in the Spanish sun for qualifying, and it was Q1 graduate Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) who set the initial benchmark time of a 1:48.495. It wouldn’t take long for that to be beaten though as Pramac Racing’s Jack Miller shaved 0.3 off Morbidelli’s time. Marquez’ first lap would be 0.1 shy of the Australian’s effort, while Vinales went provisional pole by 0.034.

However, Marquez’ second lap was a blinder. 0.6 under Vinales’ lap after the third split, the Repsol Honda rider was about to go P1. Quartararo, just a few metres up the road from Marquez, took over at the top but Marquez immediately demoted the Frenchman down to P2 with a 1:47.050. Meanwhile, Aprilia Racing Team Gresini’s Aleix Espargaro had set a lap time good enough for P5 at the end of the first runs, with the Spaniard being joined by teammate Andrea Iannone in Q2 as Aprilia had two of their bikes in the second part of qualifying for the first time.

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]The riders emerged for their second runs and nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) managed to launch himself to P5 from P10, a solid lap from ‘The Doctor’. Vinales then stuck his YZR-M1 into second place, but he remained 0.4 adrift of Marquez. The latter was right behind Vinales and managed to slightly improve his time down to a 1:47.009 as the goalposts were moved further away. The top duo’s work was done as the clocked ticked down to under a minute, but a rookie sensation wasn’t.

Quartararo started his final flying lap and was over a tenth in the red after the first split. Were we about to witness one of the upsets of the season? After the second split, the 20-year-old’s advantage was hovering around a tenth and at the third, there was nothing to choose between Quartararo and Marquez. A long straight and a fast sweeping left-hander was to come – a sector that hasn’t suited the Yamaha this weekend – and as Quartararo took the chequered flag, three tenths went astray as Aragon GP pole position went to Marquez. Nonetheless, Quartararo’s time was enough to put him P2 ahead of Yamaha counterpart Vinales. Is it Marquez vs Yamaha once more on Sunday?

Miller did sit on a provisional front row before Quartararo’s last lap, the Aussie by far the leading Ducati rider on Saturday – as he was on Friday – at MotorLand Aragon. Espargaro’s 1:47.733 initially placed him on the front row, before Miller and Quartararo manoeuvred the Spaniard down to P5. A middle of the front row start is his and Aprilia’s best Q2 result of the season though, with Rossi’s second-run lap good enough to see him place sixth ahead of Sunday’s race.

Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) spearheads Row 3 in Q2, the British rider leading Q1 pacesetter Morbidelli and Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar), with Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) completing the top 10. Iannone lines up P11 on his RS-GP machine, while there was terrible luck for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pol Espargaro. The Spaniard crashed in FP4 and, subsequently, suffered a fractured left wrist – the number 44 will miss the rest of his home Grand Prix.

Unable to progress through Q1, Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) has a tough job on his hands if he’s to challenge for a podium on Sunday. A P13 will turn into a P12 because of Espargaro’s absence, what can the Suzuki man do from outside the top 10?

Marquez has marked his territory in northern Spain this weekend by claiming pole number nine of the season, but the Yamahas of Quartararo and Vinales are hot on his tail. Can the duo – or maybe a fast starting Miller – get the better of Marquez in the early stages?

Qualifying Results

1 Marc Marquez Honda Honda 0.000s
2 Fabio Quartararo Petronas Yamaha Yamaha 0.327s
3 Maverick Vinales Yamaha Yamaha 0.463s
4 Jack Miller Pramac Ducati Ducati 0.649s
5 Aleix Espargaro Aprilia Aprilia 0.724s
6 Valentino Rossi Yamaha Yamaha 1.006s
7 Cal Crutchlow LCR Honda Honda 1.313s
8 Franco Morbidelli Petronas Yamaha Yamaha 1.363s
9 Joan Mir Suzuki Suzuki 1.449s
10 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati Ducati 1.599s
11 Andrea Iannone Aprilia Aprilia 2.231s
12 Alex Rins Suzuki Suzuki 1.440s
13 Takaaki Nakagami LCR Honda Honda 1.468s
14 Danilo Petrucci Ducati Ducati 1.673s
15 Francesco Bagnaia Pramac Ducati Ducati 1.739s
16 Miguel Oliveira Tech3 KTM KTM 1.818s
17 Tito Rabat Avintia Ducati Ducati 1.907s
18 Mika Kallio KTM KTM 2.076s
19 Jorge Lorenzo Honda Honda 2.273s
20 Hafizh Syahrin Tech3 KTM KTM 2.306s
21 Karel Abraham Avintia Ducati Ducati 2.508s
22 Bradley Smith Aprilia Aprilia 2.747s
1001 Pol Espargaro KTM KTM 1.383s

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