After a damp FP3 on Saturday morning which saw limited running from most riders, qualifying in Aragon for the fourteenth round of the 2019 MotoGP World Championship took place in perfect conditions.
The first session saw a surprise, as Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) prevented Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) from advancing to Q2 using the tow of Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) who topped the first session.
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) was 1.6 seconds faster than everyone in Friday morning’s FP1 session and, although the championship leader had not been close to the 1’46.8 that gave him that advantage since FP1, pole position was almost guaranteed. Once more, Marquez was unable to match his 46.8 from Friday morning, but his 1’47.009 was enough for pole position by 0.327 seconds over Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT).
Marquez’ pace is superior for Sunday’s race, but it looks like the battle for second place will be between Quartararo and Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), who line up alongside the #93 on the front row.
Jack miller (Pramac Racing) produced a surprise by putting his independent Ducati in fourth place in a track where the Desmosedici has not been entirely comfortable this weekend. There is another surprise in the middle of the second row, where Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) will start from tomorrow after a brilliant lap following Marquez at the end of Q2. The last spot on the second row went to Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) who seems to be staring down the barrel of a fourth-consecutive fourth place finish tomorrow.
Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda CASTROL) starts from the front of the third row, highlighting the strength of Marquez on the same bike, who was 1.313 seconds quicker than the #35. Franco Morbidelli and Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) will join the Briton on row three.
Crutchlow’s late lap to go seventh pushed Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) off the third row, and the Italian will start back in tenth which could limit his chances. Andrea Iannone was unable to make much of his Q2 appearance and will start eleventh courtesy of Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) missing qualifying due to a crash in FP4 which could also see him miss tomorrow’s race, which he would start from twelfth.
Thirteenth place went to Alex Rins, the Spaniard being the fastest rider to miss out on the pole position shoot-out. There is a lot of work now for Rins to do tomorrow, but his pace is strong and he can still make a good result if his start is good. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU) qualified fourteenth, whilst Danilo Petrucci’s struggles aboard the Ducati Team Desmosedici GP19 continued, the Italian finishing only fifth in Q1 to qualify fifteenth overall.
Sixteenth place went to Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) who is having another tough weekend aboard the satellite Desmosedici. Joining the reigning Moto2 World Champion on the sixth row are fellow rookie Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) and 2014 Moto2 World Champion Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing).
Mika Kallio’s replacement of Johann Zarco at Red Bull KTM Factory Racing for the rest of the season came as a shock earlier in the week, but the Finn has had a decent weekend in Spain on his return to racing after the injury he sustained in Germany last year. Kallio will start nineteenth, ahead of Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team) and Hafizh Syahrin (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) on the seventh row, Karel Abraham (Reale Avintia Racing) will head up a two-man back row from Bradley Smith (Aprilia Racing Team) who is wildcarding this weekend for the first time since Barcelona.
Featured Image courtesy of Jaime Olivares/Box Repsol