Pol on pole: Espargaro earns dramatic Saturday P1

A confusing end to MotoGP™ Q2 sees the Spaniard pick up Honda’s first Saturday P1 of 2021; Ducati and Yamaha claim front rows

In a highly dramatic end to MotoGP™ Q2 at the Monster Energy British Grand Prix, we saw Pol Espargaro earn a dream debut pole position with Repsol Honda Team. The Spaniard’s 1.58.889 was enough to beat Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) by 0.022s as World Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) takes P3, with Jorge Martin’s (Pramac Racing) eventual cancelled lap causing plenty of confusion at the chequered flag.

Zarco and Rins leave it late in Q1

Q1 saw title hopeful Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) and 2019 British GP winner Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) battling it out to try and get into the pole position shootout, but it was Zarco’s fellow Ducati rider Enea Bastianini (Avintia Esponsorama) who set the pace. The reigning Moto2™ World Champion was P1 and chasing an improvement on his final run, however, the Italian crashed at Turn 12 – rider ok.

This brought out the yellow flags and ruined almost everyone’s laps, and with just a minute remaining, it all came down to the final flying laps for the Q2 spots. Both Zarco and Rins produced superb laps under pressure and both managed to beat Bastianini’s 1:59.553, which meant late heartbreak for the latter. Zarco and Rins went through to the 15-minute pole position scrap at Silverstone.

A dramatic and surprising Q2 outcome

Reigning World Champion Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) set the first lap of Q2 but Quartararo was straight into the 1:58s, the fastest lap of the weekend, to beat Mir’s time by 1.2s. Bagnaia slotted into P2 ahead of Ducati Lenovo Team teammate Jack Miller before Pol Espargaro slotted his Repsol Honda machine onto the provisional front row. Martin briefly occupied P2 before Bagnaia returned there shortly after to sit 0.270s off Quartararo after the first set of laps in Q2.

Miller, who had been shoved down to P5, picked up one place to P4 and was the first rider to improve his time when the riders emerged from pitlane on fresh rubber. Pol Espargaro was then on a blistering time and shot to P1 on his last lap – and safe to say the Spaniard was pleased. Martin then suddenly gained over a second in the second sector and went pole position by a huge 0.8s. How? And what had happened? No one seemed to know for now. 

Meanwhile, Pecco had beaten Quartararo’s time too and the Frenchman was down to P4, with Quartararo not improving. So at the end of the session, confusion reigned as we awaited confirmation that Martin’s lap was cancelled. Replays showed Martin had cut the Vale chicane and, of course, his lap wouldn't count. So, once the timing screens had been corrected, it was Pol Espargaro who had emerged as the surprise but deserving British GP polesitter. Martin’s late drama saw Pecco and Quartararo promoted to P2 and P3, the top two in the standings start alongside each other on the front row.

How do the rest of the Q2 results look?

Martin will start from a very solid P4 ahead of Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), the eight-time World Champion left it late to set a time after exceeding track limits earlier in the session, as Honda look strong at Silverstone. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) makes it an all-Spanish Row 2 and just 0.3s covers the top six.

Miller wasn’t able to improve after going P4 and the Free Practice pacesetter has to settle for P7, just ahead of Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha SRT). The Doctor will launch from P8 in his final British GP, impressive stuff so far from the nine-time World Champion how edges Zarco by less than a tenth. It’s P9 for the Frenchman ahead of Team Suzuki Ecstar duo Rins and Mir, work to do for the latter in his pursuit of Quartararo in the title race. Austrian GP winner Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) will be aiming for another Sunday special, the South African starts P12.

A full house at Silverstone awaits the MotoGP™ riders on Sunday and remember, the premier class go racing at the earlier time of 13:00 local time (GMT+1) – the second race of the day.

Q2 results:
1. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) – 1:58.889
2. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) + 0.022
3. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 0.036
4. Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) + 0.185
5. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) + 0.197
6. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) + 0.384
7. Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) + 0.479
8. Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha SRT) + 0.642
9. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) + 0.690
10. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.750
11. Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.874
12. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) + 1.088


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