The opening 2020 MotoGP™ qualifying session did not disappoint. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) set another lap record to claim P1 on the grid at the Gran Premio Red Bull de España as 2021 teammate Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) finished P2 in Q2, 0.139 off Quartararo’s 1:36.705. Reigning World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) will launch from the outside of the front row.
And it was Marc Marquez was the first man to attack the 55-degree track temperatures, but his opening lap was marred by running wide at the Dani Pedrosa corner. Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) made no mistake on his first flyer though, the Italian going provisional P1 before Quartararo slammed in a 1:37.064. Spurred on by his opening lap mistake, the number 93 of Marquez wasn’t hanging about on his second lap and snatched P1 from Quartararo with a 1:37.006, before Quartararo bit back immediately with the first sub 1:37 lap of Q2 – a 1:36.993.
Jerez then fell silent as the MotoGP™ riders pitted for fresh tyres, as tension and anticipation peaked ahead of the final five minutes of the first premier class qualifying session of 2020. We’ve missed the rumble of the MotoGP™ thoroughbred machines rolling out of pitlane, but we’ve missed the intense battle for pole position even more – and that’s exactly what we go at the Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto.
Out before his rivals on run number two, Marquez was on song and posted a 1:36.877 to dispose Quartararo from P1 as the duo were toing and froing for pole. Another Yamaha was looking deadly too in the form of Viñales and despite being nearly two tenths shy of Marquez’ time coming into the last split, the number 12 had a mega final sector and demoted Marquez. Quartararo was setting red splits on his final run, but so was Bagnaia. In the meantime, there was fast crashes for Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) and Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) – the fastest man in Q1 – at Turn 11, with Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) also going down at Turn 2.
Bagnaia took the chequered flag in P4 to improve his time but not position, before Quartararo showed he was the king of qualifying in Jerez for the second year in a row. ‘El Diablo’ was 0.194 under through the third split and pretty much held it to the line to lay down the gauntlet. The maiden MotoGP™ pole position of 2020 went the way of the 21-year-old, with Viñales making it a Yamaha 1-2 – just as it was last year with Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) in P2 – ahead of Marquez.
Bagnaia continued his good weekend form into Saturday afternoon to earn his best-ever MotoGP™ qualifying result in P4, the Italian will start one place ahead of teammate Miller. The Australian walked away from his crash that occurred while he was on a provisional pole lap, with Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) picking up P6.
After graduating from Q1, Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) takes P7 on the grid as the leading KTM rider – the Spaniard finishing 0.788 from pole. Dovizioso had to settle for P8 after his get-off at Turn 2, with Rins qualifying on the outside of the third row. The Suzuki man went to the medical centre for a check-up after his nasty crash at Turn 11, with the number 42 suffering a fracture-dislocation of the right shoulder, according to Dr. Mir (MotoGP™ Traumatology Specialist).
P10 went to Morbidelli as the Italian beats Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) by just under a tenth, as the YZR-M1 duo have Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Joan Mir starting alongside them in P12 – the Q2 contenders split by just 1.072 as Jerez treated us to a stunner.
What a battle in the opening MotoGP™ Q2 of the season. Quartararo vs Viñales vs Marc Marquez off the front row is going to be a fascinating watch on Sunday afternoon, with the leading Ducatis of Bagnaia and Miller eyeing up the holeshot from 4th and 5th. It’s all set up to be a stunner, and you can watch it all unfold on Sunday at 14:00 local time (GMT+2).
1. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) – 1:36.705
2. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 0.139
3. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) + 0.157
4. Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) + 0.250
5. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) + 0.748
6. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) + 0.749
7. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) + 0.788
8. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) + 0.830
9. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.931
10. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) + 0.969
11. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 1.036
12. Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 1.079
Click here for the full qualifying results!