JEREZ LA FRONTERA: Ducati’s Francesco Bagnaia denied world champion Fabio Quartararo of Yamaha a fifth straight pole position at the Spanish MotoGP as the Italian clinched top spot with a new track-record in qualifying in Jerez on Saturday.
Bagnaia, who suffered a nasty crash during qualifying in last week’s Portuguese Grand Prix, was a massive 0.453sec faster than current championship leader Quartararo with a sizzling 1min 36.17sec fastest lap ever raced on the track.
The pair will start side by side in forecast sunshine at the Jerez circuit Sunday in the sixth GP of the 21-race season.
The 25-year-old Bagnaia ran Quartararo a close second for the title in 2021 but made a poor start this season before declaring that he was starting to “feel better on the bike” after an eighth-place finish in last weekend’s race in Portugal.
“I’m really happy. We did a great job,” said Bagnaia. “I was missing this feeling to be really fast and competitive. Thanks to all the guys in my team.”
Quartararo won last weekend and was happy with second to the Ducati Saturday.
“Mission accomplished. I hadn’t expected to be in second place half a second behind though,” said the Frenchman. “I’m not sure what’s missing, but were not the only ones struggling over a lap.”
Suzuki’s Alex Rins is co-leader in the standings after five GPs but struggled in qualifying and will start from 14th.
Spaniard Aleix Espargaro on an Aprilia took the third place on the front row while Bagnaia’s team-mate Jack Miller will start fourth on the grid, with six-time MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez of Repsol Honda fifth and Pramac Ducati’s Johann Zarco sixth.
Published in Dawn, May 1st, 2022