Franco Morbidelli flew to a debut MotoGP pole position at Barcelona for the Catalan Grand Prix, denying team-mate Fabio Quartararo with a late flyer in the dying moments.
The Petronas SRT man took command of the pole shootout from the outset, the Italian leading the way following the opening runs of Q2 with the fastest lap of the weekend- a 1:39.110 that put him 0.110 clear of Q1 graduate Jack Miller.
Morbidelli’s effort looked supreme as one by one each successive rider failed to best his tour, although team-mate Quartararo looked to break up the San Marino GP winner’s party with a late push to snatch pole by just 0.092.
Not to be outdone, Morbidelli saved his best until last with a stunning 1:38.798 to go over two-tenths clear at the head of the timesheets, leaving his team-mate to prop-up another Petronas SRT 1-2 qualifying result.
Valentino Rossi celebrated his contract signing with Petronas SRT to bag a front row start in third, pipping Miller’s earlier effort by just under a tenth.
The Aussie’s fourth on the grid means he is Ducati’s highest representative on the grid for the Catalan GP despite the Pramac racer having to contest Q1.
Miller comfortably made it through to the pole shootout with a strong 1:38.399 at the end of his first run to immediately bag a ticket to Q2, with all eyes turning to who would join him in progressing forward.
For a while it seemed Alex Rins would bag the final Q2 berth-albeit over three-tenths down on Miller’s gambit-but Takaaki Nakagami had other ideas.
The Japanese had languished in 18th during the early part of the session, but patched together an impressive final lap to slot into second just 0.115 down on Miller with his best tour of the weekend, leaving Andrea Dovizioso a lowly 17th on the grid as a result.
Maverick Vinales meanwhile would complete the top five on the final grid after failing to put together a pole-challenging time in the closing seconds of Q2, while Johann Zarco continued to put on an encouraging display for Avintia with sixth overall.
Pol Espargaro will lead the third row in seventh for KTM ahead of Joan Mir’s Suzuki, while Danilo Petrucci failed to build on his rapid FP3 speed as he fell to ninth in qualifying.
Brad Binder completed the top ten on the second factory KTM, while Takaaki Nakagami failed to re-produce his Q1 lap on the way to 11th ahead of Tech 3’s Miguel Oliveira-the Portuguese suffering a minor crash at Turn 10 early on in the shootout.
Aside from Dovizioso and Rins, another unexpected name absent from the Q2 entry list was Francesco Bagnaia, the Pramac man’s lack of Spanish speed continuing to plague him as he managed only 14th behind Rins’ GSX-RR.
Aleix Espargaro will start 15th for Aprilia, while the returning Cal Crutchlow took a solid for 16th for LCR ahead of Dovizioso and Alex Marquez.
Barcelona, Saturday, September 26, 2020
|#||Rider||Team||Time||Gap / Interval|
|1||Franco MORBIDELLI||Petronas Yamaha SRT||1’38.798|
|2||Fabio QUARTARARO||Petronas Yamaha SRT||1’39.008||0.210 / 0.210|
|3||Valentino ROSSI||Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP||1’39.129||0.331 / 0.121|
|4||Jack MILLER||Pramac Racing||1’39.225||0.427 / 0.096|
|5||Maverick VIÑALES||Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP||1’39.371||0.573 / 0.146|
|6||Johann ZARCO||Esponsorama Racing||1’39.378||0.580 / 0.007|
|7||Pol ESPARGARO||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||1’39.495||0.697 / 0.117|
|8||Joan MIR||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||1’39.628||0.830 / 0.133|
|9||Danilo PETRUCCI||Ducati Team||1’39.641||0.843 / 0.013|
|10||Brad BINDER||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||1’39.659||0.861 / 0.018|
|11||Takaaki NAKAGAMI||LCR Honda IDEMITSU||1’39.713||0.915 / 0.054|
|12||Miguel OLIVEIRA||Red Bull KTM Tech 3||1’40.188||1.390 / 0.475|