Fabio Quartararo flew to his second straight pole at Jerez for the Spanish Grand Prix, the Frenchman heading a front row covered by just 0.105s.
Quartararo picked up where he left off after leading the preceding FP4 session shortly before qualifying during the early stages of Q2, firing in the fastest lap of the weekend of a 1:36.807s to head Petronas SRT Yamaha racer Franco Morbidelli by just 0.005 after the opening runs.
With the track temperature creeping ever higher, improvements proved hard to come by for the many of the 12 riders competing in the pole shootout, though Quartararo certainly wasn’t one of them.
He managed to find a further half tenth to extend his leading advantage to 0.057s with his final gambit towards the closing moments of the session, Morbidelli unable to find any extra time on his final tour-though second was a strong return after having to contest Q1 after having his best FP3 lap cancelled.
The fired-up Italian made sure he was not to be headed in the opening segment of qualifying with the fastest lap of the weekend on his final run, a 1:36.916s putting him nearly four-tenths clear of KTM’s Brad Binder who managed to wrestle his RC16 into a Q2 contending position.
With improvements not forthcoming as the seconds wound down on Q1 the South African found himself keeping his spot until the end, rescuing what looked to be a rather average session for the Austrian marque once again-teammate Miguel Oliveira having to make do with a lowly 16th on the grid after losing his 13th best lap for a track limits infringement.
Jack Miller meanwhile salvaged the final spot on the front row having been the beneficiary of Morbidelli losing his automatic Q2 berth, the Aussie utilising a tow from fellow Ducati man Francesco Bagnaia to head the Friday pace-setter by a single tenth.
Takaaki Nakagami held the final front row position for LCR Honda after the opening runs, but ultimately found himself unable to improve late on and slipped to fifth just ahead of Johann Zarco’s Pramac-run Ducati.
Maverick Vinales could only manage seventh on the second factory Yamaha ahead of Aleix Espargaro’s Aprilia, while the Suzuki pairing of Alex Rins and Joan Mir completed the top ten.
Binder elected not to post a Q2 banker due to having had to utilise an extra set of rubber to claim passage to the session, his one and only attempt bagging him 11th ahead of Stefan Bradl.
It was a tricky day for the factory Honda duo of Marc Marquez and Pol Espargaro meanwhile, the pair shrugging off almost identical crashes at Turn 5-in FP3 and FP4 respectively, the former facilitating a quick hospital trip-to just miss out on spots in the pole shootout.
Espargaro managed the 14th best time just ahead of his team-mate, though following the removal of Oliveira’s effort he will start 13th for the Spanish GP just ahead of Marquez.
Valentino Rossi’s tough 2021 failed to improve at a track he has achieved so much success at in the past, the Petronas SRT pilot half-a-second down on Q2 gatekeeper Binder the end of play-leaving him a lowly 17th on the grid.
Best rookie honours meanwhile went the way of Enea Bastianini, the Epsonorama racer grabbing 15th ahead of team-mate Luca Marini in 17th, while Tito Rabat will prop up the field in his first outing as Jorge Martin’s short-term replacement at Pramac.