Quartararo storms to Catalunya MotoGP pole as Yamaha returns to form

Fabio Quartararo notches up a second MotoGP pole position of the season in the Catalunya MotoGP as Yamaha fills four of the top five positions in Spain.
Quartararo storms to Catalunya MotoGP pole as Yamaha returns to form

Catalunya MotoGP - Qualifying Results

Rookie Fabio Quartararo has stormed to his second pole position of the season in qualifying for the Catalunya MotoGP as only Marc Marquez could infiltrate a top five otherwise filled with a resurgent Yamaha.

As is becoming increasingly customary this season, Quartararo on the Petronas SRT Yamaha once more proved himself to be potent over a single lap, the Frenchman – who topped FP2 on Friday and then FP4 ahead of qualifying – looking surefooted and confident as he again completed his best laps without a tow.

Coming less than two weeks’ after he underwent arm-pump surgery, though Quartararo’s rapid soft tyre pace hasn’t quite been reflected come race day as the Yamahas’ top speed deficit is felt more harshly over a longer distance, he heads into the Catalunya MotoGP with ‘friendlier’ rivals just behind.

Indeed, with the technical Circuit de Catalunya suiting the Yamaha M1 with its superior handling ability on fresh rubber, Yamaha locked out positions 1-3-4-5 with Maverick Vinales producing one of his strongest qualifying performances since joining the factory team to secure a spot on the outside of the front row.

Only hours after he was sat in the medical centre needing the all-clear to get back on the bike due to a huge crash in FP3, Franco Morbidelli – who came through Q1 - was an excellent fourth quickest on the second of the Petronas SRT bikes, while Valentino Rossi is well placed to add to his 14 MotoGP podiums at the Circuit de Catalunya in fifth.

The Yamaha quartet are split only by championship leader Marc Marquez in second. The local hope might have challenged Quartararo’s top time as he aligned with Rossi ahead of him for a last gasp charge – in what was shaping up to be a repeat of Mugello qualifying when he used a Dovizioso tow to overhaul the youngster for the top spot – but a wild front-end slide at turn four put paid to that.

Nonetheless, he still starts ahead of Anderea Dovizioso, who leads a somewhat flat Ducati challenge in sixth position as one of only two Desmosedicis to reach Q2, Danilo Petrucci following him in seventh after recovering from a bizarre low speed off at Turn 5 whilst on an out-lap.

Fastest in FP3, Alex Rins looked capable of challenging for pole position but the Suzuki rider ruined his hopes with a crash at Turn 10 whilst dicing for the top spot. Nonetheless, eighth is still his second-best qualifying performance of the year.

Cal Crutchlow couldn’t quite match his FP3 pace as he completes row three in ninth, ahead of Jorge Lorenzo – starting inside the top ten for the first time this year – Suzuki’s Joan Mir and Pol Espargaro on the KTM.

Outside the front four rows, Jack Miller was the biggest casualty from Q1 to wrap up a frustrating Saturday for the Australian. The Pramac Ducati rider missed out on Q2 by the smallest of margins in FP3 before a crash at Turn 5 at the start of Q1 forced him to swap to his second bike, Miller unable to wrestle the loose-looking Ducati above what will be 14th on the grid behind his team-mate Francesco Bagnaia.

Karel Abraham was a standout in 15th – the Czech even bungling a lap on his final flyer that could have been good enough for Q2 – to out-qualify Takaaki Nakagami, top Aprilia Aleix Espargaro and 18th place Johann Zarco.

Elsewhere, Bradley Smith starts ahead of Andrea Iannone – the pair in 22nd and 24th respectively – after the latter Aprilia rider was ruled out with technical issues.