Jerez MotoGP pole for Espargaro, Pedrosa sixth on return

Aprilia rider Aleix Espargaro took MotoGP pole for the Spanish Grand Prix in fine fashion, in a qualifying session which threw up ever-changing weather conditions at Jerez.

It was Espargaro’s fifth pole in MotoGP, coming not too long after he came close to having an unfortunate run-in with a stray cat in the pre-qualifying practice and then crashed moments after that.

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Following Friday’s sunny skies, qualifying brought much duller conditions and at the start of Q1 rumbles of thunder and lightning began to roll in towards the circuit.

A light shower hit right at the end of the first qualifying session, making Q2 a big question mark in terms of whether the riders gambled on wet or slick tyres.

Some initially took to the track on wets, but quickly peeled back into the pits when it was clear the slick tyres were still the optimal approach for the time being.

The times began to topple as each rider got a feel for the improving conditions with the rain holding off, and the surface began to dry up quickly.

Personal best flashed up right until the chequered flag and Espargaro’s 1m37.216s was enough for pole, 0.221s ahead of Jack Miller as Jorge Martin (Pramac Ducati) rounded out the front row.

Miller’s KTM team-mate Brad Binder – who had to go through Q1 – ended qualifying in fourth ahead of fellow Q1 pace-setter Pecco Bagnaia (Ducati).

Dani Pedrosa’s impressive weekend continued, and he will start sixth on the grid to make it three KTM bikes on the first two rows. Miguel Oliveira (RNF Aprilia) ended up seventh.

Martin’s Pramac squadmate Johann Zarco will start eighth on the grid ahead of VR46 Ducati’s Luca Marini and Aprilia’s Maverick Vinales.

LCR rider Takaaki Nakagami was the top Honda in 11th ahead of Gresini’s Alex Marquez – who at one point was in the fight for pole in his year-old Ducati.

In Q1 it was championship leader Marco Bezzecchi who missed out on a place in the top 12 shootout by 0.037s, followed by Franco Morbidelli.

Fabio Di Giannantonio ended qualifying 15th, with Morbidelli’s Yamaha team-mate Fabio Quartararo – who was unhappy with his M1 on Friday – not improving in pace and ending down in 16th. Quartararo previously never qualified lower than second at Jerez in MotoGP in five attempts.

Raul Fernandez’s session concluded with a 17th-place finish, ahead of last round’s winner Alex Rins.

Wildcard Stefan Bradl couldn’t get anything more than 20th out of his Honda RC213V and finished ahead of Joan Mir and Augusto Fernandez.

Stand-ins Jonas Folger and Iker Lecuona rounded out the grid in 22nd and 23rd. The field is down to 23 after the still-injured Ducati works rider Enea Bastianini withdrew on Saturday morning.

Qualifying Results

PosNameTeamBike Group 1 Group 2
1Aleix EspargaróAprilia RacingAprilia1m37.216s
2Jack MillerRed Bull KTM Factory RacingKTM1m37.437s
3Jorge MartinPrima Pramac RacingDucati1m37.458s
4Brad BinderRed Bull KTM Factory RacingKTM1m36.541s1m37.532s
5Francesco BagnaiaDucati Lenovo TeamDucati1m36.493s1m37.557s
6Dani PedrosaRed Bull KTM Factory RacingKTM1m37.583s
7Miguel OliveiraCryptoDATA RNF MotoGP TeamAprilia1m37.596s
8Johann ZarcoPrima Pramac RacingDucati1m37.616s
9Luca MariniMooney VR46 Racing TeamDucati1m37.666s
10Maverick ViñalesAprilia RacingAprilia1m37.765s
11Takaaki NakagamiLCR Honda IDEMITSUHonda1m37.876s
12Alex MarquezGresini Racing MotoGPDucati1m37.92s
13Marco BezzecchiMooney VR46 Racing TeamDucati1m36.578s
14Franco MorbidelliMonster Energy Yamaha MotoGPYamaha1m36.793s
15Fabio Di GiannantonioGresini Racing MotoGPDucati1m36.967s
16Fabio QuartararoMonster Energy Yamaha MotoGPYamaha1m37.072s
17Raul FernandezCryptoDATA RNF MotoGP TeamAprilia1m37.164s
18Alex RinsLCR Honda CASTROLHonda1m37.256s
19Stefan BradlRepsol Honda TeamHonda1m37.297s
20Joan MirRepsol Honda TeamHonda1m37.346s
21Augusto FernandezGASGAS Factory Racing Tech3KTM1m37.753s
22Jonas FolgerGASGAS Factory Racing Tech3KTM1m38.492s
23Iker LecuonaRepsol Honda TeamHonda1m38.582s
24Enea BastianiniDucati Lenovo TeamDucati

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