It’s pole position number 11 in MotoGP for Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) after the Frenchman benefits from Francesco Bagnaia’s (Ducati Lenovo Team) misfortune to claim Grande Prémio 888 de Portugal Saturday P1. The Frenchman’s new lap record, a 1:38.862, was good enough to beat Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) by 0.089s as Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) cements a front row start in P3 despite a crash.
Qualifying kicked off at 14:10 local time and in the first part, we saw MotoGP World Champions Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) and Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha SRT). Reigning king Mir and Marc Marquez were lapping together at the beginning of Q1, with the Suzuki star the session’s early pacesetter. However, on the second flying lap, tucked right behind Mir, Marquez went 0.146s faster than Mir and it was the duo who sat P1 and P2 at the end of the first flying laps. Fascinating stuff at the start of Portimao qualifying.
Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol) was 0.131s shy of Mir in P3 as the Q1 riders headed out for a second time attack, with two Q2 spots at stake. The former World Champion then rumbled out of pitlane behind the current World Champion, but Marc Marquez’s first lap on his second run wasn’t going to trouble anyone. His teammate Pol Espargaro, minutes after a monster highside in FP4, was also searching for a Q2 place – as was Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing).
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Mir improved his last with just over a minute to go, but he remained P2 – 0.049s behind Marc Marquez. Pol Espargaro moved ahead of Binder to P4 in the session but no one would trouble the returning Marc Marquez and Mir, the two most recent MotoGP World Champions sailed into the pole position shootout.
El Diablo was 0.137s under his own time through Sector 3 and coming across the line, it was a new all-time lap record for Quartararo. Oliveira snuck into P5, Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) went P2, Luca Marini (SKY VR46 Avintia) shot up to a magical P4 as the cameras panned to Rins, Marc Marquez and Quartararo. Shadowing Rins, Marc Marquez climbed onto the front row and just behind the Spaniard, Quartararo was lurking. The latter couldn’t improve on that lap though but huge drama was about to follow.
Oliveira suffered a very fast crash at the bottom of the hill at Turn 9, thankfully the Portuguese rider was ok. Zarco, having just crashed himself, suddenly propelled into P2 before Morbidelli went P5 to knock Marc Marquez down to the third row.
Quartararo starts from pole position for the first time this season, 0.089s ahead of Rins who grabs his equal-best MotoGP qualifying result. Championship leader Zarco is in a great position on the outside of the front row, he also benefits from Ducati teammate Bagnaia’s misfortune. Miller will spearhead Row 2 thanks to a P4 in Portimao Q2, he’s joined by Morbidelli and Marc Marquez.
1. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) – 1:38.862
2. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.089
3. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) + 0.129
4. Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) + 0.199
5. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) + 0.241
6. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) + 0.259
7. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) + 0.307
8. Luca Marini (SKY VR46 Avintia) + 0.524
9. Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.536
10. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) + 0.583
11. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) + 0.620
12. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 0.945
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