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History was made at the Red Bull Spanish Grand Prix on Saturday as Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP's Fabio Quartararo became the first MotoGP™ rider to record four straight Jerez pole positions. Quartararo's quadruple never looked in doubt too, with the World Championship leader set to fire from his second pole of 2021 on Sunday alongside Q1 graduate Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) and Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team).
Before the shoot-out for pole position took place, there were two final places in Q2 up for grabs. Those went the way of Morbidelli, after the Petronas Yamaha's man gamble to do his first run on medium rather than soft rubber paid off, and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing's Brad Binder. That meant Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) was left languishing down in 14th - a career-worst MotoGP™ qualifying performance from the eight-time World Champion.
All attention then turned to Q2, with Miller, tucked in behind World Champion Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar), setting the first benchmark with a 1:37.244. But that was almost instantly bettered by Quartararo, the 22-year-old producing a 1:36.807 with his first attempt. The Frenchman was nearly knocked off top spot by ex-teammate Morbidelli though, with the Italian getting to within 0.005 seconds of provisional pole position. However, the World Championship leader was the owner of the best offering from the first flying laps.
Less than three minutes remained and all 12 premier class riders were now out on track, with brand-new soft rubber thrown in the back for good measure. For the most part, though, nobody was able to muster up anything to find an improvement, never mind challenge the factory Yamaha man for pole position. That was until Jack Miller found himself another tow, this time from Ducati Lenovo teammate Francesco Bagnaia. The pair of Bologna bullets exited the final corner together, the Australian glued to the rear wheel of the Italian's Desmosedici, and he was able to jump up to third on the timesheets. That nudged Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) off the front row and down to fourth.
Any question marks over if someone could cause late drama and steal a fourth straight pole from Quartararo were well and truly put to bed when he found yet another improvement, a 1:36.755, with his final flying lap. The front row wasn't settled yet though, with Bagnaia, having detached his teammate, throwing one final time attack at it. Could he knock Miller off of the front row? No, but he only just missed out. A tenth of a second was the difference but he was forced to settle for fourth. Sunday's front row of the grid, therefore, will be Quartararo, Morbidelli and Miller but don't discount Bagnaia's Bologna bullet off of the line.
LCR Honda Idemitsu's Takaaki Nakagami had his best qualifying result of the year by taking fifth place and the Japanese rider will be joined on the second row of the grid by Pramac Racing's Johann Zarco. Fronting row three of the grid will be Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP's Maverick Viñales, the Spaniard finishing just 0.015 seconds clear of compatriot Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) in eighth. Top Suzuki and planning yet another Sunday climb through the field is Alex Rins, he starts ninth ahead of Team Suzuki Ecstar partner Mir.
Binder only had the one soft rear tyre remaining for Q2 after scraping through Q1 and that cost the South African, leaving him eleventh on the grid for the Spanish GP. The final place on the fourth row of the grid went the way of Honda HRC's wildcard rider Stefan Bradl.
MotoGP™ recap: Quartararo untouchable in Jerez qualifying
Fastest in FP4 and fastest in Q2 marked yet another superb Saturday for MotoGP™'s form man Fabio Quartararo. The history books tell us he'll be tough to stop on Sunday having eased to victory the last two times he clinched pole position in Jerez. But one thing you can always rely on in the premier class is to expect the unexpected. Nothing is as ever as straightforward as it seems in MotoGP™ so don't miss lights out in Jerez at 14:00 local time on Sunday.
MotoGP™ first four rows:
1. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) - 1:36.775
2. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) + 0.057
3. Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) + 0.105
4. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) + 0.205
5. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) + 0.253
6. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) + 0.299
7. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 0.315
8. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) + 0.330
9. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.369
10. Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.399
11. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) + 0.712
12. Stefan Bradl (Honda HRC) + 0.747
2 years ago