Jerez [Spain], May 1 (ANI): History has been made at the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto after Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) set a new all-time lap record of 1:36.170 in Q2 at the Red Bull Spanish Grand Prix. In the hotly-anticipated showdown between Bagnaia and the Jerez master Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha Moto GP), it went the way of the Italian as he denied the World Champion a fifth straight pole position in Andalucia.
A late charge from Aprilia Racing’s Aleix Espagaro saw him snatch the final front row spot as his confidence continues to grow in 2022.
Before the first flying laps had even come in we saw drama in Q2 when Pramac Racing’s Jorge Martin crashed out at the first corner. The Spaniard squirted on the throttle before a slight bobble saw him crash out and sprint back for his second bike. That fall had consequences as it forced the cancellation of the majority of laps, meaning Joan Mir’s (Team Suzuki Ecstar) 1:37.616 was the fastest of the five riders whose lap times still stood.
On the second flying lap, our usual duo were down to business and at it again. Bagnaia took the top spot for a split second before Quartararo took over with a 1:36.790. The pair asserted their dominance early as they sat four tenths clear of Aleix Espargaro, who had managed to jump up to third.
The Ducati man had company for his first run as Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez latched himself onto the rear of his GP22. But Bagnaia’s crew worked wonders in the pitlane at the end of his first run to get the Italian back out in rapid time, so he could shake off the close attention of Marquez. The eight-time World Champion then switched his focus to Quartararo instead, glueing himself to the rear wheel of the World Champion’s Yamaha M1.
Three minutes were now remaining when Mir’s front row hopes took a dent by crashing at the opening corner. History was then made as Bagnaia smashed everyone out of the park with a sensational 1:36.170. He was a jaw-dropping six tenths clear of Quartararo, as hopes of a fifth straight Jerez pole began slipping through his fingers. The Frenchman improved his lap time but was still four-tenths adrift of the brilliant Bagnaia, whose first pole since Portimao last year was now confirmed. With the chequered flag out, Espargaro dug deep to grab the final front row spot out of the hands of Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) for a third top-three performance in the last four rounds.
Miller will fancy his chances of jumping on the Jerez podium again on Sunday, despite dropping back down to the head of the second row. The Australian will be joined there by Marc Marquez after his towing paid off, and the fastest man in Q1: Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing). The Frenchman left it late in Q1 and was then the final man to come across the line in Q2. Thankfully for him, he saved his best until last again by jumping up two places to sixth.
Fronting the third row of the grid will be Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu), ahead of the impressive rookie Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing), who backed up his second-row start last weekend in Portimao with another sizzling Saturday performance. The final spot on the third row will be occupied by Mir after his late crash cost him, dear, with the same going for Jorge Martin. The Spaniard, usually a Q2 master, rounds out the top ten. Similar disappointment for the man he’s fighting it out with over a 2023 factory Ducati seat, Enea Bastianini. A crash for the Gresini Racing man on his final flying lap meant he had to settle for 11th on the grid, ahead of Maverick Vinales (Aprilia Racing) in 12th, who never got going in Q2.
There were plenty of disgruntled faces at the conclusion of Q1, most notably from the man tied at the top of the World Championship. Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins could only manage 14th on the grid and will be desperately hoping he can conjure up some first lap magic again on Sunday. Honda Team’s Pol Espargaro missed out on a Q2 place right at the death following Zarco’s late lap, therefore the Spaniard will fire from 13th. KTM had a day to forget as well with their factory stars Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira languishing down in 15th and 21st. (ANI)