Another crucial and somewhat dramatic qualifying session for the premier class got underway in a warm Saturday afternoon at Motorland Aragon and it was a momentous achievement for Takaaki Nakagami. The Japanese rider was fastest throughout Q2 and never allowed anyone to get a proper taste at pole, becoming the sixth pole sitter of the season and the first Japanese one in the premier class in 16 years. Franco Morbidelli came as close as six hundredths of a second of pole but will be happy enough starting from the middle of the front row. Alex Rins found himself chasing qualifying expert Fabio Quartararo on his final flying lap and used the deluxe tow to place himself on the front row of the grid, which bodes well for Suzuki given what he did from fourth row last time out.
Maverick Vinales came nearly four tenths short of pole and opens row two of the grid, ahead of Q1 escapee Johann Zarco. The Frenchman was the only Ducati to escape the first qualifying session and despite a late crash he did well to finish fifth, ahead of compatriot Quartararo, whose couple of moments at the final turn cost him a go at pole.
Zarco’s crash made quite a few victims on the timesheets initally but after all the times were reinstated post-session, without much explanation offered, Cal Crutchlow opened row three ahead of Miguel Oliveira and Pol Espargaro. The Spaniard was the fastest man in Q1 but ran out of soft tyres for Q2 and the mediums were only fast enough for ninth place.
With penalties also reversed for rookies Alex Marquez and Iker Lecuona, the Spaniards scored their best starting positions. Meanwhile, Joan Mir was the slowest rider in the session and left himself with a lot of work to do to defend the championship lead. However, the Spaniard won’t be as miserable as title rival Andrea Dovizioso, the disappointing Ducati show ending in Q1 with Jack Miller 14th, Dovizioso 17th and Danilo Petrucci 19th.