It’s a maiden premier class pole for the Beast; Quartararo and Aleix Espargaro settling for second and third row starts
For the first time in his MotoGP™ career, Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) will launch from pole position after leaving it late to snatch Q2 top spot from Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) in a fantastic CryptoDATA Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich Q2.
Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) completes the front row of the grid as Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) have to settle for second and third row starts respectively.
Aleix Espargaro battles through Q1
For the first time since the Americas GP, Aleix Espargaro found himself in Q1 and with both Quartararo and Bagnaia looking in fine form, progression into Q2 was all that mattered. And it was the title-chasing Spaniard who set the first couple of benchmarks, with younger brother Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) slotting into P2 just 0.045s behind.
Luca Marini’s (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) best effort on his first run put him third as the top three sat 0.068s apart with seven minutes of Q1 left. Drama then unfolded at Turn 2B as both Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) and Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol) crash in quick succession, thankfully both riders were ok, as Aleix Espargaro improved his lap by a couple of tenths to strengthen his grip on a Q2 spot. But it wasn’t over.
Marini was on a flyer as Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) pounced to P2, but Marini lost time in the second half of the lap and couldn’t beat his Ducati counterpart to the second promotion spot. With no one else threatening the top two, Aleix Espargaro was safe and joining him in Q2 was Italian GP polesitter Di Giannantonio.
The Beast leaves it late to bag a maiden pole position
Miller slammed in the first benchmark – a 1:29.164 – but the pace was upped on the second flying laps. Espargaro went top with a 1:29.032 before Miller bounced back to set a 1:28.898, the fastest lap of the weekend so far. Espargaro’s lap was then cancelled so the Spaniard dropped to P5 behind Bastianini, Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) and Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar), with Quartararo and Bagnaia P6 and P12 respectively – the latter yet to set a time after running wide at the new Turn 2 chicane.
Pecco was the first rider to emerge on a fresh set of soft Michelin rear rubber and pounced straight up to P2 to make it a factory Ducati 1-2, 0.101s splitting Miller and Pecco. The in-form Italian was then at the summit of the times by 0.102s after a storming second effort, with Quartararo only able to grab P5. That soon turned into P6 as Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) went P5.
As the clock ticked down. a beast was on the prowl. And sure enough, Bastianini was able to beat Bagnaia’s time by 0.024s to claim his first premier class pole position to front a Ducati armada at the spearhead of the grid.
Quartararo and Espargaro with work to do
2021 Red Bull Ring race winner Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) will start from P4 ahead of reigning World Champion Quartararo, who is once again the first non-Ducati rider in the standings. Zarco will start sixth alongside his compatriot, with a trio of Spaniards making up the third – including Aleix Espargaro. Viñales and Mir finished 7th and 8th in Q2 with Espargaro’s lap time cancellation for exceeding track limits at Turn 8 causing him to start from 9th.
Di Giannantonio, Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) completed the Q2 running order in P10, P11 and P12 with just 0.7s covering the top 12.
With 0.4s splitting polesitter Bastianini to 9th place Aleix Espargaro, and so much on the line, the MotoGP™ race at 14:00 local time (GMT+2) is simply unmissable!
1. Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) – 1:28.772
2. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) + 0.024
3. Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) + 0.109
4. Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) + 0.186
5. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) + 0.231
6. Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) + 0.274
7. Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) + 0.363
8. Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.483
9. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) + 0.483
10. Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) + 0.564