After a long year of putting on a show to empty grandstands, the first round of applause of the season went to Fabio Quartararo and it was fully deserved as the Frenchman took control of the qualifying session early on and never let go. Rivals could only close the gap from four tenths to four hundredths of a second and Quartararo secured another lap record and his fifth consecutive pole position. Jack Miller was his closest challenger but it wasn’t a carefree afternoon for the Ducati man, who spent his first Q1 outing of the season extending his taxi services to towing services for the Repsol Hondas before ending Q2 in the gravel trap at turn 3. However, his quickest lap was enough to secure second on the grid and Miller was all smiles by the time he arrived in parc fermé. Johann Zarco gave his leading compatriot some palpitations as he lined up 3 red sector times on his final flying lap but lost some speed in the final sector and had to make do with third.
Miguel Oliveira continued his excellent form in Barcelona to open the second row of the grid ahead of Franco Morbidelli. Maverick Viñales probably got some flashbacks to last weekend when he saw the Espargaro brothers glued to his tail on his final time attack and it wasn’t until he ditched the company for the last flying lap that he climbed into sixth on the grid. Aleix Espargaro still managed seventh in the end, three tenths of a second off pole and another tenth ahead of Brad Binder. Pecco Bagnaia’s issue with respecting track limits cost him quite a bit and the Italian will start the race from the back of row three.
Joan Mir met a similar challenge down in 10th place and will share fourth row with Valentino Rossi and Pol Espargaro, both of whom suffered crashes in Q2. Rossi slid out at turn 4 early on and struggled to go quicker than 11th on his second machine, while Pol Espargaro benefited from a second-hand tow from Miller and Marquez to escape Q1, only to crash out at turn 10 on his final flying lap of Q2. As any good equal opportunities employer, Marc Marquez picked a new Ducati friend to follow in Q1 this time around but ultimately missed out on Q2 by one hundredth of a second after the strategy backfired and his teammate snatched second in his tow. The Spaniard starts his home race from 13th grid position, sharing row five with Takaaki Nakagami and the returning Jorge Martin.