What. A. Lap. History has been made at the Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto after Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) set a new all-time lap record of 1:36.170, an incredible near half second clear of his main competition, aka reigning Champion Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™). The Italian denied the number 20 a fifth straight pole position in Andalucia, with a late charge from Aprilia Racing’s Aleix Espargaro enough to see him snatch third and another front row.
There were plenty of disgruntled faces at the conclusion of Q1, most notably from the man tied on points at the top of the World Championship: Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins could only manage 14th on the grid and will be desperately hoping he can conjure up some first lap magic again on Sunday. Repsol Honda Team’s Pol Espargaro missed out on a Q2 place right at the end following a late lap from Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing), and KTM had a day to forget as well with their factory stars Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira struggling down in 15th and 21st.
Zarco topped the session, with rookie Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) once more an impressive nuisance for the veterans on Saturday.
Before the first flying laps had even come in we saw drama in Q2 when Pramac Racing’s Jorge Martin crashed out at the first corner. A slight bobble saw him crash out and sprint back for his second bike, but the fall had consequences as it forced the cancellation of the majority of laps thanks to the Yellow Flags, meaning Joan Mir’s (Team Suzuki Ecstar) 1:37.616 was the fastest of the five riders whose laptimes still stood.
On the second flying laps, a familiar usual duo were down to business and at it again. Bagnaia took top spot for a split second before Quartararo back took over with a 1:36.790. The pair asserted their dominance early too, sitting four tenths clear of Aleix Espargaro.
Bagnaia had company for his first run as Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez latched himself onto the rear of his GP22, but the number 63’s crew got the Italian back out in rapid time, and he was able to shake off the close attention of Marquez. The eight-time World Champion then switched his focus to Quartararo instead, gluing himself to the rear wheel of the reigning World Champion’s Yamaha M1.
History was then made as Bagnaia smashed everyone out of the park with a sensational 1:36.170, a jaw-dropping six tenths clear of Quartararo, as hopes of a fifth straight Jerez pole began slipping through his fingers. The Frenchman improved his laptime but was still four tenths adrift of the brilliant Bagnaia, whose first pole since the Algarve GP last year was an arguably perfect and unbeatable lap.
With the chequered flag out, Aleix Espargaro was able to dig deep to grab the final front row spot out of the hands of Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) too, the Aprilia rider making it a third top three performance in the last four rounds.
Bagnaia back to his best and Quartararo denied, looking for some revenge, sets an incredible stage for Sunday. Aleix Espargaro starts alongside them on the front row, and he has Marquez, Miller and Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) on Row 2 just behind him.
Fronting the third row of the grid will be Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu), ahead of the impressive rookie Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing), who backed up his second row start last weekend with another sizzling Saturday performance. The final spot on the third row will be occupied by Mir after a late crash in Q2 cost him dear, with the same going for Martin. The Spaniard, usually a Q2 master, rounds out the top ten.
Similar disappointment is there for Enea Bastianini too. A crash for the Gresini rider on his final flying lap meant he has to settle for 11th on the grid, ahead of Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) in 12th.