The Ducati Team’s Francesco ‘Pecco’ Bagnaia carried his superb form from MotoGP free practice into qualifying for the Liqui Moly Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland as he secured pole position.
The Italian was the only rider who could get into the 1:19s in Q2 at the Sachsenring, a 1:19.931, specifically, although the front row was still covered by less than a tenth of a second, proving just how close the category is. Yamaha rider Fabio Quartararo has given himself a good chance of extending his World Championship lead by claiming second on the starting grid for Sunday’s race in Germany, and he will have Pramac Racing’s Johann Zarco alongside him also.
There were three different makes in the top four thanks in part to Aprilia Racing’s Aleix Espargaro, but seven of the Bologna bullets made it into the second stanza of qualifying and six of those got into the top eight. Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing MotoGP) topped Q1 before claiming fifth in Q2, ahead of Jack Miller (Ducati Team), Luca Marini (VR46 Racing Team), and Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing).
Bagnaia made a statement with a 1:20.098 on his first flying lap, immediately before an off-track excursion at Turn 1, and that was still the best time once the opening runs were done. By then, team-mate Miller had closed to 0.056 seconds behind, ahead of Martin on a 1:20.277 and Aleix Espargaro on a 1:20.379.
Pecco was quickly back into the pits for another new soft Michelin rear slick and was the first to go for his second run. He tightened his grip on the provisional pole with a 1:20.064 and put more space between himself and the field when he backed that up with the aforementioned 1:19.931.
No one would beat that time but, with the mercury pushing into the thirties at the Sachsenring, it was appropriate that the second position was also hotly contested. Aleix Espargaro clocked a 1:20.120 and then Quartararo a 1:20.093 before Zarco pipped both of them with a 1:20.030.
However, Quartararo does not lead the World Championship without digging deep, an’ ‘El Diablo’ had just that little bit more pace left as he went 1:20.007 just before the chequered flag. Bagnaia took yet another new Michelin rear tyre as he tried to go for a third run, and while he ran out of time to start a lap again, it mattered not.
Di Giannantonio may have fallen into Q1 but he cleared that hurdle by topping that earlier qualifying session with a 1:20.307 which would have put him ninth in Q2 if he had not gone faster anyway. The Italian, on a GP21-model Desmosedici, was as high as the third-quickest before settling in fifth on the grid on a 1:20.128.
As it stands, he will start between Aleix Espargaro and Miller, the latter of whom was sixth on a 1:20.150, but the Australian still faces an investigation into allegedly crashing under a yellow flag in FP4.
For now, seventh on the grid is Marini and eighth is Martin, even though the Spaniard was only 0.288 seconds slower than the pole. Maverick Vinales (Aprilia Racing) also made Row 3 while 10th went to Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda), who crashed late at Turn 1. Q1 graduate Marco Bezzecchi (VR46 Racing Team) took 11th all-told and Joan Mir (Team Suzuki) is also on Row 4.
Pol Espargaro was an agonising 0.004 seconds away from Bezzecchi’s 1:20.600 with his late flying lap in Q1, and the Repsol Honda rider will therefore start at the head of Row 5 of the grid. He will be joined there by KTM Factory Racing team-mates Miguel Oliveira and Brad Binder, with Row 6 comprised of Alex Marquez (LCR Honda), Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP), and Stefan Bradl (Honda).
Rounding out a slightly reduced, 23-rider field are Andrea Dovizioso (Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team), Franco Morbidelli (Yamaha MotoGP), Remy Gardner (KTM Factory Racing), Raul Fernandez (KTM Factory Racing), and Darryn Binder (Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team). Alex Rins (Team Suzuki) had already pulled out of the event before FP4 due to pain from his fractured wrist.
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