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MotoGP: Quartararo Storms to Aragon Grand Prix Pole after Practice Crash

Fabio Quartararo

Fabio Quartararo

Championship leader Fabio Quartararo of Petronas Yamaha shrugged off a crash in practice to clinch pole position at the Aragon Grand Prix.

Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) is a MotoGP pole sitter for the 10th time. Despite a heavy FP3 crash that saw him take a trip to the medical centre, the Frenchman was once again on fire in Q2 to set a 1:47.076, enough to beat second fastest Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) by just 0.046 seconds. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) was back in parc ferme on Saturday afternoon to claim his first row since the 2019 Americas GP.

Before Q2 got underway, a huge battle in Q1 raged between the Ducatis and Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing). Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) topped the 15-minute fight with the best lap of the weekend at that time, a 1:47.605, with Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) grabbing the second spot on his last flying lap to demote Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) to P3 and out of Q2. A furious Dovizioso shot straight out the back of the garage, work to do for last year’s Aragon GP runner-up from P13 on the grid.

Morbidelli was the first to set a lap time in Q2 but that was immediately beaten by Miller, a 1:47.657 was set by the Australian and he was top of the pile in the early stages. Quartararo slotted into P2 early doors before Morbidelli snatched P2 back – and almost P1. 0.002 separated Morbidelli and Miller but there were plenty of red sectors lighting up the time screens. Quartararo was one of those and El Diablo shot to P1 and following the Yamaha on track, Miller improved but stayed P2 – a tenth splitting the pair.

Morbidelli then made it a Petronas 1-2 to beat Miller’s time, less than a tenth away from his teammate, with Vinales slotting into P4 after the first set of flying laps. Crutchlow was occupying P5 with Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) sitting on the outside of the provisional front row. But that was all going to change as the riders slotted in fresh rubber, ready for their second runs.

Vinales was lapping alone and was going well. In Sector 3 the Spaniard was 0.021 under Quartararo’s time and after a stellar final sector, Vinales leapfrogged his Yamaha rival to take provisional pole by 0.171 seconds. Crutchlow crossed the line and moved up to P3 to shove Morbidelli down to P4. Talking of the Italian, Morbidelli was on a great lap and was only 0.020 off in Sector 3. However, Morbidelli lost time down the back straight and despite setting a personal best time, the number 21 stayed P4. Viñales was then setting an almost identical lap time to his current P1 best, and the number 12 came across the line to go slightly quicker – 0.003 was the advantage gained.

However, Quartararo was just through his first sector and was up. El Diablo was 0.073 faster than Vinales coming through Sector 2, but it was the next part where Quartararo gained time. Heading onto the almost 1km long back straight, the title chase leader was over a tenth and a half under Vinales’ time and despite losing over a tenth in the final split, walking wounded Quartararo went P1 by 0.046 seconds – a phenomenal final flying lap.

In terms of the top two rows, that was all she wrote. It’s a Yamaha 1-2 as Quartararo digs deep to claim Saturday honours in Aragon, Vinales has every chance of fighting for victory from P2. Crutchlow makes a welcome return to the front row as the British rider finds form despite still nursing his arm injury, the HRC man finishing 0.229 adrift of Quartararo. Morbidelli was just 0.012 shy off the front row but it was a good day for the Italian and Yamaha on a circuit that hasn’t necessarily suited the YZR-M1’s characteristics in the past.

After graduating from Q1, Miller claims a solid P5 to fly the Ducati flag in Aragon. The Australian was fuming after his FP3 time – that was good enough for the top 10 – was chalked off due to yellow flag infringements, but Miller responded well to start from the middle of the second row. Championship contender Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) will line-up in his best grid position since the Styrian GP, Suzuki’s strength doesn’t lie on a Saturday afternoon and a P6 is a great position for Mir to launch a victory attack from.

Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) set his personal best time on his final flying lap, but it didn’t quite see him penetrate the front two rows. The Japanese rider was less than a tenth off Mir’s time and will spearhead Petrucci and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) on Row 3. The latter and younger brother Pol Espargaro had a bit of an incident in Q2, the KTM rider tagging the back of the Aprilia, causing part of Pol Espargaro’s wing to be hanging off and therefore seeing him unable to set a last gung-ho lap. For Aleix, it’s his second best qualifying result of the season after P4 in Czechia.

Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins completed the top 10, with Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) – despite struggling on the soft tyres in Q2 – cementing his best MotoGP qualifying result in P11. After the incident, Pol Espargaro had to settle for P12.

A dramatic MotoGP Saturday draws to a close in Aragon. Medical centre to pole position for Quartararo is a heroic effort, but how will he fare in the race? Dovizioso has plenty of work to do to stay in the title race as the Italian launches P14 – his main competitors all inside the top six. Another phenomenal battle awaits at MotorLand Aragon, with the premier class action coming your way at the later time of 15:00 (GMT+2)

Top 10:

1. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) – 1:47.076

2. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 0.046

3. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) + 0.229

4. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) + 0.241

5. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) + 0.337

6. Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.603

7. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) + 0.683

8. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) + 0.848

9. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) + 0.912

10. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.959

All the action from the MotoGP Gran Premio Michelin® de Aragón will be LIVE on Eurosport and Eurosport HD with the final race on Sunday, October 18, 2020 from 3:15 PM IST. The same will also be streamed LIVE on Discovery Plus application on Sunday from 4:30 PM IST.

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