With the magic 8 ball suggesting that the lap record around Motorland Aragon was about to be shattered into pieces, expectations were high ahead of the MotoGP qualifying session. The reality was not quite as extraordinary as that but Ducati won’t have minded one bit once Jorge Lorenzo brought them a third consecutive pole position for the first time in a decade. The Spaniard was the last man to cross the line in the session and stole the show from the Dovizioso/Marquez shenanigans.
Marc Marquez’s damaged bike from FP4 was not fixed for qualifying, leaving the world champion in a risky position, even by his usual standards. Not one to take it easy, the Spaniard got within three tenths of his own pole record on the first flying lap and was the first man to dip into the 1:46s. Marquez and Dovizioso then went on to spend most of the final shootout doing the tango and neither wanting to lead. This left them with only one flying lap to change the hierarchy but luckily for them, no one did any better meanwhile and it all came down to one final lap for everyone. Unluckily for them, they both got stuck in significant traffic, which Dovizioso managed to escape to make it a Ducati 1-2 but Marquez could not dodge and had to give up the fight. Nonetheless, the favourites for the race all dipped into the 1:46s, covered by less than a tenth of a second and will start the fireworks from the front row of the grid.
Similarly to his factory colleague, Cal Crutchlow had to rely on his early benchmark after a late crash in turn 12 put an end to his hopes but the LCR rider had done enough to keep fourth position. Andrea Iannone was hot on Marquez’s tail, in fairly familiar fashion but with the Spaniard failing to improve, so did Iannone, dropping to fifth place. Dani Pedrosa played nice and was rewarded with a second row start from sixth position.
Danilo Petrucci opens row three, ahead of Alvaro Bautista and Alex Rins. Jack Miller could not replicate the excellent display from practice and was demoted to tenth, with the two Q1 survivors completing row four. Maverick Viñales worked out his escape from Q1 on his second lap but could not go any better than 11th in Q2, while Takaaki Nakagami snuck into Q2 on his final lap to the detriment of Franco Morbidelli.
Johann Zarco was close to Q2 as well and the Frenchman saved a couple of costly front end slides on the final lap but could not save the laptime as well. He will start from row five, sandwiched between the Honda of Morbidelli and the Aprilia of Aleix Espargaro. Valentino Rossi had an even more forgettable afternoon, the Italian looking like he was cruising – literally, not metaphorically – in Q1 and never seemed like threatening the top positions. He qualified 18th, closing row six behind Bradley Smith and Karel Abraham.
UPDATE: Maverick Viñales and Franco Morbidelli were given grid penalties for impeding Bradley Smith in Q1 and will start 14th and 19th respectively (3 grid positions for Viñales and 6 for Morbidelli). This promotes Nakagami to 11th, Zarco 12th, Aleix Espargaro 13th, Smith 15th, Abraham 16th, Rossi 17th and finally Syahrin in 18th grid position.