#CatalanGP qualifying roundup: MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) has done it again. The French rookie followed up going fastest on Friday by taking his second pole position in the premier class despite still recovering from arm pump surgery, and that despite suffering his first ever crash in MotoGP™ during FP3. It was close between the two men at the top in qualifying, however, and the number 20 only just beat reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) to pole by 0.015. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) was third fastest as Saturday proved a top day for Yamaha, but the number 12 subsequently received a three-place grid penalty and will be bumped back to the second row.
An infinitesimal 0.001 advantage for Viñales means Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) just missed out on a place in the fastest trio, but the Italian was impressive and will start from the front row after the Spaniard’s penalty. A huge crash in the morning prefaced a trip through Q1, but the number 21 bounced back in qualifying and just got the better of compatriot Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) in Q2, who was the fifth fastest but now heads the second row. Rossi’s 1:39.753 was the lap that meant all four Yamahas were inside the fastest five in qualifying for the first time since Brno 2012 after a phenomenal showing from the Iwata marque.
Andrea Dovizioso (Mission Winnow Ducati) continues the Italian invasion near the front as he was sixth quickest and now starts fifth after improving on his second run and gaining a place as Viñales takes his penalty. ‘DesmoDovi’ was the fastest Ducati in qualifying, and although teammate Danilo Petrucci (Mission Winnow Ducati) wasn’t far behind, Viñales will now split the two on the grid. Petrucci suffered a crash in Q2, as did the man just behind him: Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar).
Rins was on a hot lap when he went down and with only two minutes left on the clock, the Spaniard didn’t have chance to improve. So it’s P8 for him and he needs another stellar first few laps like Mugello, where he picked his way through to perfection from 13th on the grid. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) starts alongside the Suzuki rider, but a few tenths in arrears.
Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team) finished just 0.048 off Crutchlow to line up tenth for his home Grand Prix, with the five-time World Champion having gone straight through to Q2. Q1 graduate and rookie Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) took 11th place, with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pol Espargaro launching from P12 at a true home race for the rider born only kilometers from the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
One name missing from the normal Q2 mix was Jack Miller (Pramac Racing), who faces a fight back from P14, and he’ll be one of many to watch when the lights go out. Can Quartararo race away from pole? It’s his last chance to beat Marquez to the record of youngest winner. Or can Marquez beat him to the holeshot? Yamaha look strong, Rossi is a record-breaker in Barcelona, Ducati always bring the pace on race day…you don’t want to miss Round 7 of the season from the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, with MotoGP™ coming your way at 14:00 local time on Sunday (GMT+2).
Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40) has been impressive so far in 2019 and qualifying for the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya was no exception. The Spaniard took his first ever pole position from veteran intermediate class campaigner Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) in Barcelona by just 0.021, with the front row covered by just 0.029 in total as Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) took P3.
The close battle at the top didn’t end there, with all three riders on the second row qualifying within a tenth of the top. Jorge Navarro (HDR Heidrun Speed Up) took P4, edging out an impressing performance from rookie teammate Fabio Di Giannantonio, with Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) sixth fastest. Marquez has won the last two races, and is exactly a tenth off pole…
Marquez’ key title rival Lorenzo Baldassarri (FlexBox HP 40) spearheads the third row of the grid in seventh – the Italian improving on his final flying lap to get into the top ten – ahead of rookie Nicolo Bulega (SKY Racing Team VR46), with Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team) completing an all-Italian Row 3. His teammate, Enea Bastianini, was just half a tenth in arrears to take P10.
Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) crashed during Q2, rider ok, but the Australian will line up 11th, ahead of Mugello polesitter Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) and Italian GP podium finisher Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) just behind.
Another day, another record broken in Moto3™: Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) became the seventh different polesitter in the opening seven races of the season at the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya, taking his fourth career pole position by just 0.021 ahead of a stunning session for Japanese rookie Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia). It’s the first time since the introduction of the category in 2012 that the first seven pole positions have all been taken by different riders, and if Rodrigo can win on Sunday he would become the 12th different winner in a row, as well as the seventh different winner this year. And if he is the magnificent seventh different winner? It’ll be the first time it’s happened in the lightweight class since 1988.
Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) completes the front row and he’ll be the first aiming to stand in Rodrigo’s way and become the first repeat winner of the year, but the second row has some serious threats to contend with too. Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) has been on both the pace and the podium this season, but he’s yet to visit to top step – something not true of Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team), who lines up alongside him. The Championship leader will be aiming to win his second race of the season. Albert Arenas (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) completes the second row, a Grand Prix winner already last year but another potential addition to the record-breaking roll in 2019.
Friday’s fastest Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) heads up Row 3 ahead of Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) after a crash for the man second in the standings, with John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) starting ninth. Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) completes the top ten.
Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai) was eighth quickest but is the first of seven riders to have received grid penalties. Six have 12-place penalties: Masia, Championship contender Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse), Dennis Foggia (Sky Racing Team VR46), Kazuki Masaki (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race), Andrea Migno (Bester Capital Dubai) and Filip Salač (Redox PruestelGP). Vicente Perez (Reale Avintia Arizona 77) has a six-place penalty.