The headline act for Saturday arrived with the prospect of a fierce fight under the burning Catalan sun. The lead characters were the ones of old, Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Marquez the undisputed stars of the show.
Lorenzo bided his time out the pits and the clear air served him well, heading straight to the top of the timesheets on his first hot lap. But this time he did not have a chance to get comfortable before Marquez fired in the fastest lap of the weekend while Lorenzo came back to the garage with metaphorical steam coming out his ears. Once again the last man to leave the pits for the second run, Lorenzo turned the heat up a notch and snuck ahead of the world champion to finally grab his first pole position for Ducati.
As one of only two riders to have won from pole in Catalunya, Lorenzo will have fierce competition from the other two front row starters. After cruising through Q1, Marquez missed out on a final hot lap when he came across Danilo Petrucci in his favourite fourth sector and the Spaniard will start second on the grid, with Andrea Dovizioso joining the front row for the first time this season.
Maverick Viñales saved the day for Yamaha after a solid set of practice sessions and will start fourth, half a second slower than the poleman. Andrea Iannone was only three thousandths of a second behind the Spaniard while Petrucci rounded out the second row of the grid.
Valentino Rossi was a bit of a case of “what could have been” as the Italian rolled out of a hot lap when he found Marquez on his tail and his second try was only good enough for seventh grid position. The Yamaha man will be in the familiar – if not entirely pleasant – company of Johann Zarco, with a persistently impressive Tito Rabat closing down row three.
Fourth row is an all-Honda affair, Cal Crutchlow taking a late tumble but still leading the way for Dani Pedrosa and Takaaki Nakagami, who made an appearance in Q2 for the very first time. Jack Miller was best of the rest in 13th position.