until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Martin crash costs Bagnaia pole, Espargaro starts first

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
2 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Aleix Espargaro took pole position for his home MotoGP race at Barcelona, denying Pecco Bagnaia in a qualifying session in which Jorge Martin crashed out.

Reigning Catalan Grand Prix winner Espargaro had announced earlier in the weekend that he would be stepping away from full-time MotoGP competition at the end of the year, and followed that up with a lap record on Friday that he has now surpassed on Saturday.

But pole and the record could've belonged to Bagnaia and his Ducati, whose 1m38.128s was better than Espargaro's 1m38.190s but was erased due to yellow flags.

These came due to crashes for Bagnaia's former team Pramac Ducati, and more specifically his title rival Jorge Martin and his good friend Franco Morbidelli.

Martin sat third after the initial Q3 runs, but then crashed after tipping in for Turn 2 - with Morbidelli running right behind him and coming off his bike moments later.

KTM's Brad Binder had originally completed the front row behind Espargaro and Bagnaia, making it three different manufacturers in the top three.

But a deleted Raul Fernandez lap was reinstated after the session, elevating the Spaniard and his 2023-spec Aprilia onto the front row instead - giving both him and his Trackhouse Aprilia team their first-ever front row start.

Tech3 Gas Gas rookie Pedro Acosta followed Binder during the initial run to post what would end up the fifth-best time at the chequered flag, followed by Fabio Di Giannantonio (VR46 Ducati) and Martin.

Di Giannantonio had topped Q1 (advancing alongside Fernandez) with what was then a new lap record, and would've been second on the grid here had he matched his Q1 lap in Q2.

Alex Rins was a stellar eighth for Yamaha, nine places up on team-mate Fabio Quartararo on the grid.

Jack Miller (KTM), Morbidelli, Enea Bastianini (Ducati) and Maverick Vinales (Aprilia) completed the Q1 order, Vinales a distant second-best to team-mate Espargaro all weekend and lapping a dispiriting eight tenths slower in Q2.

Marc Marquez, who crashed in pre-qualifying practice, had his brother and Gresini team-mate Alex ahead of him as a reference for the entirety of the qualifying session, but couldn't find enough laptime to escape Q1 for a second week running.

Moreover, he was outqualified by Alex for the first tie this season, as the younger Marquez sniped 13th pace from Marc with his very final attempt in Q1, after Marc had backed off.

Miguel Oliveira will join them on the fifth row as the lowest-placed of the Aprilias, while Marco Bezzecchi will head up row six - over four tenths down on his VR46 team-mate Di Giannantonio in Q1.

The intra-Honda qualifying battle was again headed by Johann Zarco, who remains unbeaten by his fellow RC213V riders over one lap this season despite crashing in pre-qualifying practice and then again in Q1.

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