Espargaro breaks Ducati hearts after smashing a new lap record in Catalunya

He’s done it! Aleix Espargaro will start his home Grand Prix from pole after narrowly beating Francesco Bagnaia in MotoGP qualifying at Catalunya.
Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia MotoGP Catalunya
Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia MotoGP Catalunya

Already a new lap record holder and fastest in three of the four Catalunya MotoGP practice sessions, Espargaro started Q2 as the odds-on favourite for pole. 

And although Espargaro’s second flying lap was a very good one - went third quickest - it was reigning MotoGP World Champion Fabio Quartararo who laid down the benchmark time. 

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Quartararo failed to go quicker on his second lap which was not the case for most of the riders out on-track, but even so, Quartararo held on to provisional pole by 0.010s. 

As has often been the case in his MotoGP qualifying career, Francesco Bagnaia found incredible pace at the beginning of his second stint to go top by three tenths. 

But moments later Espargaro delivered on the promise he showed all weekend. For the second time today the Aprilia rider set a new lap record, this time it was a 1:38.742s.

Bagnaia was consequently dropped to second by the Spaniard, and although the Ducati rider went even quicker on his final lap, it wasn’t enough to halt Espargaro’s charge. 

Francesco Bagnaia, Catalunya MotoGP, 4 June
Francesco Bagnaia, Catalunya MotoGP, 4 June

Not for the first time this season, row two was made up of three Ducati machines as Johann Zarco led Fabio Di Giannantonio and Jorge Martin. 

Alex Marquez misses out on MotoGP qualifying after heavy FP4 fall

With qualifying yet to get underway, Brad Binder and Alex Marquez’s preparations were hampered by late crashes in FP4. 

Binder crashed for the second time this weekend [turn five], while Marquez barrel-rolled through the gravel at the final corner, losing his helmet visor in the process. 

On-track, Marco Bezzecchi was continuing to show impressive pace as he became the first rider to set a sub 1m 40s lap in qualifying. 

If that wasn’t impressive, then Bezzecchi’s next lap around was exactly that as he went another three tenths quicker. 

The only rider able to challenge Bezzecchi’s early time, Maverick Vinales, who has been one of the quickest riders all weekend in terms of race pace, jumped to the top thanks to a brilliant sector four. 

Maverick Vinales, Catalunya MotoGP, 4 June
Maverick Vinales, Catalunya MotoGP, 4 June

With the second round of time attacks underway, Binder started a lap that got better and better as it went on. 

Continuing to gain time in sectors two and three, the South African eventually went four tenths quicker than Vinales’s previous top time, however, Vinales and Bezzecchi both responded to go  first and second. 

With Vinales and Bezzecchi looking set for a Q2 berth, Takaaki Nakagami had other ideas as he popped his LCR Honda into second. 

The top five were separated by just +0.033s as the checkered flag dropped. Bezzecchi, Enea Bastianini and Binder were the three who missed out.

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