Aragon Grand Prix, Qualifying round-up: MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
The grey of Friday at MotorLand Aragon turned powder blue on Saturday, as qualifying day brought warmer temperatures and shining late September sun for the Gran Premio Movistar de 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 on ominous form, and the number 93 turned promise into pole position in spectacular style to head the timesheets by an incredible gap of six tenths. Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) complete the front row as MotoGP™ gets back on their home turf.
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 Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Yakhnich), Hector Barbera (Avintia Racing) 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 impressing as the German got an 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 injured Bradley Smith for the third time in a row, had a crash in FP3 and subsequently decided to stay off track on Saturday afternoon – with a decision on whether to race left for Sunday morning.
With Q2 underway Marquez hit first, with Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) slotting into P2 early on and reigning champion Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) suddenly pulling a laptime out the bag to take a provisional front row. Looking to improve in the second run, Repsol Honda rider Marquez’ first flying run proved to set his fastest time – just shy of a 1:46 lap of the 5.1km venue.
As the second run got underway, Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) 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 Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) who moved up into second, as Friday’s fastest Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) suffered a crash soon after Crutchlow and saw his session come to an equally early end.
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.
‘DesmoDovi’ finally heads up row two ahead of late crasher Crutchlow, with Movistar Yamaha MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi further down the timesheets in P6 to complete the second row, despite proving fastest Yamaha on Friday. The ‘Doctor’ had a difficult day at the office, including a highside crash at Turn 9 in FP3.
Pedrosa starts from seventh after his crash in qualifying – one place higher than his grid position ahead of victory at Misano World Circuit – with second Suzuki rider Aleix Espargaro behind the ‘Baby Samurai’ in P8. Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Yakhnich) just beat teammate Scott Redding to the third row, with the Pramac pair pushing Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) down to P11. Stefan Bradl (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) completed the Q2 graduates in P12.
Racing gets underway at 14:00 local time at MotorLand Aragon, as Marquez prepares to paint the town red – and increase that 43 point lead as the flyways beckon on the road to Valencia.
Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) had a tough weekend on the Riviera di Rimini, but the Moto2™ title contender shone once again at MotorLand as he denied provisional polesitter Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) in the final minutes of qualifying. Marquez, who was fastest in FP3, was 0.054 back on the Brit by the end of the session, with the two men proving the class of the field. Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) completes the front row in another great showing of pace from the Japanese Dutch GP winner.
Brno victor Jonas Folger (Dynavolt Intact GP) heads up row two, in front of reigning champion and points leader Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport). Zarco, who has been on the pace throughout the weekend but not the pacesetter, did qualify well ahead of nearest championship rival Rins – who lines up in P13. FP3 also saw Rins struggle, ending that session in P20 and losing the front end in the final minutes. With only a 3-point gap to points leader and reigning champion Zarco, the Spaniard will be looking to catapult forward off the line.
Lorenzo Baldassari (Forward Racing Team) qualified sixth after his recent Misano win, ahead of second Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Franco Morbidelli. Morbidelli will, however, be forced to drop a place following a penalty for a Friday incident with Leopard Racing’s Miguel Oliveira. Tom Luthi will be the man to gain, as the Garage Plus Interwetten rider set the eighth fastest lap in QP.
Axel Pons (AGR Team) had an impressive home qualifying session in P9, with Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) completing the top ten.
Moto2™ line up to do battle at 12:20 local time at MotorLand Aragon, with every point and every lap now critical as the title fight closes up and the remaining rounds count down.
Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Moto3) took pole position in Moto3™ at MotorLand Aragon, as the Italian ended the session two tenths above championship rival Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0). MotorLand marks the first opportunity for Red Bull KTM Ajo rider Brad Binder to take the title as the South African is 106 points clear at the top of the table, but he had a more difficult session in Saturday afternoon to post the seventh quickest time. Bastianini and Navarro are the closest men to Binder in the standings, and with a 1-2 in qualifying start their final defense on a good footing.
Livio Loi (RW Racing GP BV) set the third fastest lap of the session but must take a 3-place grid penalty, with Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA Racing Team) putting in the fourth fastest effort of QP but similarly affected with a four place penalty on race day. Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) will be a big winner once penalties are applied to those on the front rows, as the home rookie qualified in fifth and will be set to move up the grid. Philipp Oettl (Schedl Racing GP) also looks set to benefit after setting the sixth fastest lap of Saturday’s qualifying session.
Less than a tenth back from title hopeful Binder was FP3’s fastest man Fabio Quartararo (Leopard Racing), as the Frenchman made good on promise shown in practice to get back towards the front in Aragon – having previously won at the venue in the FIM CEV Repsol. Honda Team Asia rider Hiroki Ono was ninth quickest in a solid top ten performance, with that top ten completed by Dutch rookie Bo Bendsneyder for Red Bull KTM Ajo.
Jorge Martin (Gaviota Mahindra Aspar) is back on track after missing the San Marino GP through injury and impressed at home to go eleventh quickest, with Austrian GP winner Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) suffering at MotorLand in P27 at the flag. Mallorcan Mir did the double at MotorLand in the FIM CEV Repsol in 2015, but has been suffering with a fever in his rookie Moto3™ world championship appearance at the circuit; not getting out on track Friday.
The lower class get out on track to race on Sunday at 11:00 local time, with Binder balanced on the edge of glory. With 106 points of advantage, the South African need not win the race to take the crown – that pressure remains on Navarro and Bastianini.