Aleix Espargaró on MotoGP pole at home Grand Prix in Barcelona

Aleix Espargaro | photo© Randy van Maasdijk

Aleix Espargaró will leave the Catalunya from pole in the premier class on Sunday during the Gran Premi Monster Energy. The Aprilia Racing driver set the fastest time in qualifying ahead of Francesco Bagnaia and Fabio Quartararo on Saturday afternoon with a new all-time lap record at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

Before the qualifying session started on Saturday afternoon, the fourth free practice was scheduled for the MotoGP drivers. A very important session given the grip problems from the day before and an excellent way to do a final tire test before Sunday afternoon at around the same time – and probably under almost the same conditions – MotoGP race.

In this session we saw mainly runs on mainly the medium and hard Michelin tires, all in the context of and in preparation for the race. It will be no secret that the Aprilia is not just the machine to beat this weekend when it comes to putting that one fast lap. In this session, Aleix Espargaró showed once again that he has to be taken into account in Sunday’s race as well by showing a great race pace. The Spaniard was again the fastest in this session. With a fastest lap of 1’39,992 the Aprilia driver was fastest ahead of Marco Bezzecchi, Fabio Quartararo, Johann Zarco and Luca Marini.

For Brad Binder. Alex Marquez and Joan Mir did not quite go as planned in this fourth free practice. Binder crashed for the second time this day, Marquez suffered a big blow after which he clearly had to catch up with the marshalls while Mir gave up his Suzuki in the closing phase of this session. Afterwards, it was announced that Marquez had been transferred to the medical center for a medical check.

Without Alex Marquez, fourteen drivers started this session, a fifteen-minute session where the fastest two drivers could still qualify for Q2. It was not an exciting affair, no, it was a true thriller. It was Maverick Vinales who ultimately took the lead and was fastest for Takaaki Nakagami ahead of Bezzecchi, Enea Bastianini and Brad Binder. The difference between these top five was only 0.033 seconds. Viñales and Nakagami therefore still qualify for Q2 while Bezzecchi was only 0.006 second short with the third lap time.

Bezzecchi will therefore have to start the race from thirteenth place on the grid on Sunday ahead of Bastianini and Binder. Alex Marquez missed the entire session and will therefore have to start the race from last place on the grid if he is declared fit (painful wrist of which pictures will be taken).

Was Aleix Espargaró the man to beat until now this weekend. In the first run of this session it was Quartararo who set the fastest lap for Francesco Bagnaia with a lap of 1’39,055 and the man was fastest in the second, third and fourth free practice. In Q1 we thought it was close, in this first run the difference between the fastest three men was just 0.012 seconds.

However, that it could be even faster in the second run, it was Bagnaia who was the first to dive below the 1’39 mark in this session and to take the first place on the list. Aleix Espargaró then went the extra mile by setting a lap time of 1’38.742, another all-time lap record for the Aprilia driver, with a tarmac temperature of around 60 degrees.

Bagnaia looked to throw a spanner in the works but the Ducati Lenovo Team rider was 0.031 seconds short on the finish line to score his third consecutive MotoG pole. The pole thus became a pole for Aleix Espargaró, driving in front of his home crowd this weekend, ahead of Bagnaia and Quartararo, who recovered in a great way after a difficult first day.

Zarco qualified fourth ahead of Fabio Di Giannantonio, who after his pole position a week ago in Mugello now had to be content with fifth and Jorge Martin.

The third row of the grid will be formed in Barcelona on Sunday by Alex Rins, Viñales, Luca Marini and Aleix’s brother Pol Espargaró.

Jack Miller and Nakagami set the eleventh and twelfth lap times in this session, with which they will form the fourth row of the grid together with Pol Espargaró on Sunday.

The MotoGP race of the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya will start on Sunday afternoon at 2:00 PM.

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