Barcelona, Sep 26 (IANS) Franco Morbidelli on Saturday took his maiden MotoGP pole ahead of his Petronas Yamaha team mate Fabio Quartararo ahead of the Catalan Grand Prix in Barcelona. Morbidelli led a Yamaha 1-2-3, with Valentino Rossi taking P3, his first front row finish since the 2019 British GP.
Pramac’s Jack Miller was the best Ducati on the grid and starts P4 while Maverick Vinales took P5.
It was a Yamaha stranglehold at the beginning of Q2 as Morbidelli set the first banker, with Rossi then taking over at the top before Vinakes quickly found himself at the summit. Meanwhile, Quartararo ran wide as he got his YZR-M1 all sorts of crossed up at the tricky Turn 10, before his teammate Morbidelli slammed in the fastest lap of the weekend to go provisional pole again — a 1:39.110.
Miller only had one set of fresh soft tyres available after coming through Q1, but the Australian managed to get up into P2, just 0.115 off Morbidelli.
After running wide at Turn 10 in the early stages, Quartararo rumbled out of pit lane with five minutes to go having not set a lap time. The Frenchman was P12, but that was soon going to change as four Yamahas lit up the timing screens.
Halfway around the lap, Quartararo was 0.132 under Morbidelli’s time. He crossed the line and managed to strike a 1:39.008, with Morbidelli unable to improve – nor did Vinales. Rossi did though, The Doctor launched from P7 to P3 with his time and it was a provisional Yamaha front-row lockout – Miller the only rider to mix it with the Iwata factory riders for the time being.
On the next lap, Morbidelli was 0.082 under Quartararo’s time at Sector 3. Sector 4 was a stunner for the number 21 as he shot to the top, beating Quartararo’s time by over two tenths to lay down the gauntlet. The Catalan MotoGP will be aired on Eurosport on Sunday from 3.15 pm IST.