In the punishing heat of Barcelona, you could almost miss all the wet races last season. While the spectators dealt with thirty degrees air temperature and an uneven tan, the riders were faced with fifty-five of them on a bumpy slippery track.
Jorge Lorenzo had a sniff at pole after leading on the first outing but was refused the honour by a dominating Dani Pedrosa, the Honda veteran putting in a late lap to go over three tenths of a second ahead of his former nemesis. Pedrosa will be trying to become the first rider since Lorenzo himself back in 2010 to win the race from pole position - which is the second best place to be in Barcelona in this weather.
Lorenzo did not appear too bothered by losing pole and was keen to celebrate his first front row start for Ducati, as well as managing to add to what appeared to be an unlikely record of starting on the first row in Catalunya for the ninth year in a row.
Danilo Petrucci sneaked onto the front row at the last minute, although he is becoming a usual sight in parc fermé these days. He was slightly helped by Marc Marquez’s almost comedic adventures, the reigning world champion wiping some more sponsors off his leathers after crashing out yet again early in the session. With the other bike already damaged from FP4, he was lucky to be able to ride it back and get it fixed in time for a final shot at pole. He appeared to be heading for that before, guess what, he crashed once more in turn five and begrudgingly settled for a fourth position on the grid.
Aleix Espargaro won’t have minded one bit to be right behind the world champion for tomorrow’s start, the Spaniard putting the Aprilia in a more than honourable fifth place. The all-Spanish second row was completed by Hector Barbera, the Avintia rider looking much better on home ground after a difficult start to his season.
Andrea Dovizioso opens the third row of the grid, sharing it with top Q1 qualifier Jonas Folger. With all of the Yamahas in Q1, it was bound for a few of them to make it into Q2, and Folger did it with ease, almost four tenths in hand on his factory colleague. Talking of which, Maverick Viñales only just made it through Q1 to qualify ninth, closing the third row.
Alvaro Bautista, Scott Redding and Andrea Iannone make up the fourth row, with Valentino Rossi set to start thirteenth, just ahead of his pal Johann Zarco.
Meanwhile, Bradley Smith did not take part in qualifying after badly injuring his little finger in a crash in FP4 and being declared unfit for the race. Sylvain Guintoli was another absentee, the Frenchman suffering from dehydration, his participation in the race also being questioned.