Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pol Espargaro grabbed his second pole position of the season after a phenomenal performance in wet conditions in Q2 at the Gran Premio de Europa, clocking in a 1:40.434 ahead of Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) by a slim 0.041 seconds. Despite a late crash, Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) claimed the final front row grid slot in P3, the Japanese rider also less than a tenth shy from P1.
Emerging through the Q1 shootout before Q2 was FP4 pacesetter Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech3) and FP3 leader Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing) in the wet but drying conditions. The sun was shining for the MotoGP pole position fight, but the asphalt was still wet.
Pole for @polespargaro! ????????????
— MotoGP™???? (@MotoGP) November 7, 2020
A dry line was appearing in some parts of the circuit, however, it was nowhere near dry enough for riders to risk Michelin slicks as all the Championship contenders – barring Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) – were in the hunt for Saturday glory.
Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) pulled straight back into pitlane after his out-lap, a tyre change for the Italian but it wasn’t to slicks. Rins set a 1:42.420 to set the first time of the session, but that was going to be beaten fairly quickly as some of the Q1 contenders dipped into the 1:41s. Rins did then set a 1:41.714 to extend his lead, teammate Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) then went quicker by a tenth to sit on the provisional pole.
The Suzuki stranglehold was then beaten by Nakagami as Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) peeled into the pitlane while on a great lap. The lead then changed again, Morbidelli was at the summit but Rins then went faster for the third lap in a row, Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) – who has struggled all weekends in the wet conditions – went P8, six tenths off Rins’ time.
Nakagami was then on another flyer. The Japanese rider was 0.3 seconds faster at the second split and over half a second up through Sector 3. Coming round the final corner and firing his RC213V to the line, Nakagami shot to the top by seven-tenths – goalposts well and truly moved, who could respond? Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) was trying. Late out his pit box, the Australian was straight down to business and claimed P2, but a mistake at the final corner cost him time.
As has been well documented, Viñales will start from the pitlane on Sunday. It’s a race that is simply unmissable and one that is going to have huge consequences in the 2020 title race, but who is going to come out on top? A ninth winner is entirely possible, with Pol Espargaro, Nakagami, Zarco and Mir all starting in the top five.
All the action from the main race day of Gran Premio de Europa of MotoGP World Championship 2020 will be LIVE on Eurosport and Eurosport HD on Sunday (8 November 2020) from 3:15 PM IST onward. The same will also be streamed LIVE on Discovery Plus application 4:35 PM IST onward.
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