The grey of Friday at MotorLand Aragon turned powder blue on Saturday, as qualifying brought warmer temperatures and late September sun for Aragon. Q2’s pre-session favourite for pole was unquestionably Marc Marquez after the Repsol Honda rider was fastest by some margin in both FP3 and FP4, and #93 turned promise into pole position in spectacular style to head the timesheets by an incredible gap of six tenths.
FP4 saw PULL&BEAR Aspar rider Yonny Hernandez into the top ten, but the Colombian sadly wasn’t able to replicate the performance in Q1 as Pramac’s Danilo Petrucci, Avinita Racings’ Hector Barbera and Aprilia Racing Team Gresini duo Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl joined the South American in the battle for graduation to Q2. Petrucci eventually topped the session, with Bradl piloting the Aprilia through to Q2 for the second successive race after Bautista managed the same at Misano last time out. Alex Lowes (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), replacing the injured Bradley Smith for the third time in a row, had a heavy crash in FP3 and subsequently decided to sit out qualifying– he will make a decision on whether to race on Sunday morning.
With Q2 underway Marquez hit first, and the Repsol Honda rider’s first flying run proved to be his fastest time – just shy of a 1:46 lap of the 5.1km venue – with LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow slotting into P2 early on and Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo dramatically pulling the pin to post a laptime to take a provisional front row.
As the second runs got underway, Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso leapt up into P2 before former teammate Cal Crutchlow lost his Honda into Turn 1 in the first high profile crash of the session. It was then Suzuki’s Maverick Viñales who struck and moved up into second, just as Friday’s fastest rider, Honda’s Dani Pedrosa lost the front mid-way through a potential pole.
The last minute drama wasn’t over there, as Lorenzo again improved his laptime in the final minutes to knock Dovizioso back off the front row, completing the all-Spanish top three on home turf behind Marquez and Viñales.
Marquez, who claimed the 64th pole of his career, said: “I’m very happy with how the day went, especially with the pace we had in FP4, which was very good. Today we found a good setup for the bike and we were able to improve on yesterday, although it was a shame about the crash this morning.
“In qualifying I was very comfortable on my first lap, as it is when the tyre has its maximum potential, and I also pushed on my second lap but not as close to the limit. With today’s temperatures we were able to work very well with the front end. Hopefully the good weather continues tomorrow. If it gets colder, we would have to reassess the front tyre choice. Regardless, I’m satisfied; like every year, I feel very good at this track and I hope we can finish well on Sunday.”
1 93 Marc MARQUEZ SPA Repsol Honda Team HONDA 1’47.117 2 7 329.3
2 25 Maverick VIÑALES SPA Team SUZUKI ECSTAR SUZUKI 1’47.748 6 7 0.631 0.631 330.4
3 99 Jorge LORENZO SPA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP YAMAHA 1’47.778 7 7 0.661 0.030 329.0
4 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Ducati Team DUCATI 1’47.819 6 7 0.702 0.041 337.8
5 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW GBR LCR Honda HONDA 1’47.843 3 7 0.726 0.024 328.3
6 46 Valentino ROSSI ITA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP YAMAHA 1’47.951 7 7 0.834 0.108 329.3
7 26 Dani PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team HONDA 1’48.017 6 7 0.900 0.066 330.6
8 41 Aleix ESPARGARO SPA Team SUZUKI ECSTAR SUZUKI 1’48.230 7 7 1.113 0.213 325.6
9 9 Danilo PETRUCCI ITA OCTO Pramac Yakhnich DUCATI 1’48.236 6 6 1.119 0.006 331.4
10 45 Scott REDDING GBR OCTO Pramac Yakhnich DUCATI 1’48.242 7 7 1.125 0.006 333.4
11 44 Pol ESPARGARO SPA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YAMAHA 1’48.448 5 6 1.331 0.206 324.9
12 6 Stefan BRADL GER Aprilia Racing Team Gresini APRILIA 1’49.083 3 8 1.966 0.635 321.8