Franco Morbidelli will start a MotoGP race from pole position for the first time career in tomorrow’s Catalunya MotoGP as he achieved a rare feat in defeat his single lap specialist team-mate Fabio Quartararo to the top spot in a straight fight.

The Italian yo-yo’d between first and second with Petronas SRT Yamaha team-mate Quartararo in the closing stages but it was his last lap of the session - a 1min 38.798, a sizeable two tenths quicker altogether - giving him the edge this time over his title rival.

 

 

It’s another step in the right direction for Morbidelli, following his first MotoGP victory in Misano. Indeed, since Morbidelli and Quartararo went head to head at Petronas SRT Yamaha at the start of 2019, it is the Frenchman that has -initially  against expectation - had the edge over his more experienced rival. 

However, recent rounds have seen the margin between the two shrinking in race trim and now even in qualifying where Quartararo stars.

Either way, they start 1-2 for the Malaysian team, with the rider it announced today will be joining them next season - Valentino Rossi - making a welcome and increasingly unfamiliar appearance on the front row as Yamaha once again dominated the single lap proceedings.

It was close to making it a second 1-2-3-4 in three races, but for Jack Miller, who turned around a dismal day for Ducati with a run to fourth on the grid, well ahead of his GP20 compatriots, not least championship leader Andrea Dovizioso, who starts down in 17th position. 

Johann Zarco returned to the top ten on the Avintia Ducati bike with a strong run to sixth, heading off top KTM rider Pol Espargaro in seventh place, who has Joam Mir next to him in eighth position and with work to do versus the Yamahas at least. Danilo Petrucci starts ninth, with Brad Binder tenth from Takaaki Nakagami - who progressed with Miller through Q1 - and Miguel Oliveira, who was left 12th after a fall at Turn 10

Ahead of Q2, the number of high-profile contenders found themselves tussling over just two available spots to progress through into the pole-deciding session, and even this didn’t disappoint after Nakagami snatched it right at the death from Alex Rins.

As such, Rins will start the Catalunya MotoGP from 13th in the setback to what is proving to be an unexpectedly tough year for the Spaniard, while Misano standout Pecco Bagnaia looks unlikely to be in the mix this weekend from 14th on the grid.

Aleix Espargaro was also in the hunt for Q2 at one stage before slipping to 15th, while Cal Crutchlow will be moderately satisfied with 16th on the grid following his injuries,  as he looks to give his ailing 2020 MotoGP campaign a shot in the arm tomorrow. 

At least he will have some high-profile company in Dovizioso, whose troubles on the Ducati were betrayed as he feared, leaving him out of the loop and down in a lowly 17th.

Alex Marquez took a modest step forward to qualify 18th having been largely rooted to the back row this year, ahead of Iker Lecuona, Stefan Bradl, Bradley Smith and Tito Rabat.
 

 

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