LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow smashed the previous pole lap record at the newly-resurfaced Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto, taking pole position for the first time since the 2016 British GP at Silverstone in some style as he topped the session and then went even faster.
Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa – the winner at Jerez in 2017 – also dug deep to put in another stunner to take second despite his ongoing recovery from a broken wrist sustained in Argentina, with Tech 3’s Johann Zarco qualifying in third to make it eight times in a row the Frenchman will be starting the race from the front row.
It was a tense final shootout at the end of the session, and many eyes were on Marquez as the number 93 pushed and consistently lit up the first sectors red – and then just lost out before the line. Unable to improve on his initial fast lap, the six-time World Champion was pushed off the front row and then down to fifth as Ducati’s Jorge Lorenzo – the previous pole lap record holder – lit it up to take fourth and head up Row 2 at the venue at which he took his first podium for Ducati.
Suzuki pair Alex Rins Andrea Iannone, after topping FP4 in reverse order, line up sixth and seventh respectively – with the Hamamatsu factory a threat for the front throughout. Rins, who is racing in his first Spanish GP in the premier class after missing the event in 2017 due to injury, was only 0.007 off Marquez and just 0.003 ahead of Iannone.
Championship leader Andrea Dovizioso lines up eighth on the Ducati after he was left heading through – and going fastest in – Q1, but the gap was small once again, with the Italian only 0.042 off his compatriot ahead of him.
Fellow Italian Danilo Petrucci completes the third row on his Pramac Ducati.
It was a more difficult day for the factory Yamaha squad with Valentino Rossi lining up tenth after just edging out his teammate by 0.014, with Maverick Viñales therefore lining up P11.
Jack Miller on the second Pramac Ducati lines up twelfth ahead of Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), who was just left behind in Q1 by 0.040 seconds, with some solid rookie performances from Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) and Franco Morbidelli (Marc VDS) completing the top fifteen.