The Frenchman bags five 2021 pole positions in a row to beat Q1 graduate Miller at the Catalan GP
For the first time since Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) in 2014, a MotoGP™ rider has claimed five straight pole positions in a row. That man is, of course, World Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) after he set a 1:38.853 in Q2 at the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya – a new all-time lap record. Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) came through Q1 to bag P2 despite a late crash at Turn 3, second in the title race Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) picks up an important front row start in P3.
Show me the money, Marc
Miller found himself in Q1 after losing out in the closing stages of FP3, but the Australian made it through without any real dramas. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), just as he did at Mugello with Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), latched himself onto the back of Miller for both runs, as the pair had a light-hearted exchange heading out of pitlane.
However, the number 93 missed out on advancing through to Q2 by 0.011s, as the eight-time World Champion’s teammate Pol Espargaro sneaked through to the pole position shootout. Just 0.028s split Miller, Pol Espargaro and Marc Marquez in Q1, the latter settling for P13 on the grid at his home Grand Prix.
The pole position fight
Quartararo didn’t take long to find his way to the top of the timesheets in Q2, his 1:39.351 was the first benchmark for everyone to try and beat. Morbidelli did on his second flying lap but Quartararo firmly laid down the gauntlet on his next flyer – a 1:38.853, the best of the weekend. The Frenchman’s advantage was 0.421s after the first set of runs, with Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) and Viñales on the provisional front row.
This was far from a done deal for El Diablo though. His competitors were finding speed on their second runs as Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), teammate Miguel Oliveira, Zarco and Miller all taking turns in placing themselves on the front row, Miller going just 0.037s off.
The Australian then slammed in a red sector opening split before highsiding out at Turn 3, thankfully he walked away unscathed, as yellow flags ended Quartararo’s final push. Zarco, forcing his way past Binder at the updated Turn 10, wasn’t affected by the yellow flags and shot to P3 on his final flying lap, this shoved Oliveira off the front row by just 0.050s.
Half a second covers the top 10
Oliveira was unlucky to miss out on a front row start, but P4 for the Portuguese rider is still a brilliant result. 0.010s behind the leading KTM rider is Morbidelli in P5, Viñales will start sixth after getting demoted from P3 in the closing stages. Despite being just 0.304s down on pole, Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) lines up seventh ahead of Binder and Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team). Reigning World Champion Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) is 0.578s off Quartararo’s time but has to settle for P10 in Barcelona.
Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha SRT) crashed on his second flying lap at Turn 4 to hinder his Q2 session, the nine-time World Champion will start P11. Pol Espargaro was just over a tenth off Quartararo’s time heading into the final sector on his last lap, but the Spaniard tucked the front at Turn 10 – it’s P12 for the number 44.
No one can seem to put a halt to Quartararo’s Saturday afternoon form in 2021, that’s five poles in a row for the number 20. Will a fourth victory of the season be his on Sunday afternoon? His pace in FP4 suggested it’s going to be a tough task to beat him, but the likes of Miller, Zarco and the rest won’t be going down without a fight.
Tune into the MotoGP™ Catalan GP at 13:00 local time (GMT+2).
1. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) – 1:38.853
2. Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) + 0.037
3. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) + 0.196
4. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) + 0.246
5. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) + 0.256
6. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 0.304
7. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) + 0.365
8. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) + 0.490
9. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) + 0.506
10. Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.578
11. Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha SRT) + 0.752
12. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) + 2.938