Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) became the youngest-ever MotoGP polesitter at 20 years, 14 days after setting a new Jerez – Angel Nieto lap record in qualifying, a 1m36.880s seeing the Frenchman beat teammate Franco Morbidelli by 0.082s as the new Petronas Yamaha SRT outfit lockout the front of the grid. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) had to settle for third after losing out by a slender 0.09s to Quartararo.
Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team) led the field onto their first flying laps and stalking the No. 99 was teammate Marquez, and the reigning world champion was able to take full advantage of Lorenzo’s draft to set a 1m36.970s straight out the blocks. Marquez then pulled straight in, seemingly attempting the two-stop strategy.
Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) went to second before practice leader Danilo Petrucci (Mission Winnow Ducati) emerged as Marquez’s closest challenger in the early stages of Q2 – the gap over three tenths though. Morbidelli was fourth after his first flyer but on his second attempt, the Italian went within a tenth of Marquez’s provisional pole time as 0.7 split the top 12 after the first set of runs, Quartararo sitting fifth at this point.
Marquez emerged on his second set of Michelin slicks before the rest and it was looking good for the Honda rider to move the goal posts further from his rivals, but he lost time in the last sector and it was as you were when the rest of the field ventured back out on fresh rubber. After a solid weekend so far, Lorenzo’s qualifying ended early after a crash at Turn 2.
Quartararo went P1 with a blistering 1m36.880s — the best lap of the weekend and a new lap record. It was far from over though, as championship leader Andrea Dovizioso (Mission Winnow Ducati) was on a very hot lap and was threatening Quartararo’s time, but the Italian lost time in the last sector and slotted into fourth. Morbidelli was also pushing hard and propelled himself into P2, 0.082 off his teammate and 0.008 ahead of Marquez.
At this point, Marquez was gearing up for his third run. A tenth down in the first sector wasn’t what he was looking for and, in true 93 fashion, he was on ragged edge – but this proved costly. Out of shape at Pedrosa Corner and a huge front end slide at Turn 7 ended his pole position hopes, handing Quartararo his maiden MotoGP P1 grid slot start, four years on from his first Grand Prix pole at Jerez, as Petronas Yamaha SRT take a sensational Spanish GP qualifying 1-2. The last time that happened? Sete Gibernau and Marco Melandri at the 2005 Chinese GP.
Marquez completes the front row, he loses his youngest premier class pole crown to Quartararo but starts just ahead of Dovizioso in fourth. Q1 graduate Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) will launch from P5 after a good second run in Q2 to finish 0.234 from pole, last year’s pole man Crutchlow completes the second row in sixth. Petrucci, a late crasher at Turn 1, starts seventh after looking strong all weekend. The Italian only 0.3 from P1 as he’s joined by Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) — his best qualifying in the premier class – and Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) on the third row.
Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) knocked Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) from the top two in Q1 to get a Q2 place, the reigning Moto2 champion starts 10th with Lorenzo and Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) finishing 11th and 12th respectively.
1. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) – 1:36.880
2. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) + 0.082
3. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) + 0.090
4. Andrea Dovizioso (Mission Winnow Ducati) + 0.138
5. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 0.234
6. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) + 0.295
7. Danilo Petrucci (Mission Winnow Ducati) + 0.329
8. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) + 0.452
9. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.471
10. Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) + 0.504