Spaniard Aleix Espargaro, riding his factory Aprilia RS-GP, took pole position during MotoGP qualifying Saturday at Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto, in Spain.
More, from a press release issued by Dorna:
Aleix Espargaro denies Miller in frenetic pole position shootout at Jerez
From rain to slicks and near lap-record pace, Aleix said it best himself: “It’s been a crazy morning!” Buckle up for a wild qualifying ride…
Saturday, 29 April 2023
Saturday mornings don’t get much better than that! Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) will start the Tissot Sprint and Grand Prix race from pole position at the Gran Premio MotoGP™ Guru by Gryfyn de España after coming out on top in an unbelievable Q2. Light rain fell at the start of the session but conditions improved dramatically to allow an all-time classic pole battle played out in Jerez. Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) claim P2 and P3 respectively, with some other huge players left stranded well down the order.
Bezzecchi, Quartararo and Rins miss Q2 cut
Q1 was a star-studded affair as the top three in the World Championship, as well as Argentina Sprint winner Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) found themselves battling for two crucial spots in the pole position fight. Title leader Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) set the early pace, with Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) and Alex Rins (LCR Honda Castrol) P5 and P6 with five minutes to go.
It was all about to change as the second set of fresh rear soft tyres were slotted in. Bezzecchi improved his time at the top but Pecco moved the goalposts, before Binder then went P1. Bezzecchi was suddenly shoved to P3, but crucially he got one more bite at the cherry. Bezzecchi was 0.076s shy off Pecco’s time through the third split, and he couldn’t claw back any time in the final sector – Bezzecchi missed out on a Q2 place by 0.037s, as Pecco and Binder sailed into Q2. Elsewhere, Quartararo could only manage P6 in Q1, P16 on the grid, for his worst MotoGP™ qualifying in Jerez!
Rain DOESN’T stop play: a Q2 belter
As if we didn’t have enough drama already, the heavens opened as the chequered flag waved to signal the end of Q1. It was only light rain, but how much would it affect track conditions? We were about to find out. Binder was one of the riders who ventured out on wet tyres, Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) another, while the others were lapping on slicks.
Interestingly, Marquez came straight into pitlane to change for slicks, while Binder chose to plough on. A 1:43.003 was Miller’s benchmark time and Bagnaia was an early second, 0.7s off, with Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) in P3. Binder on the wet tyres slotted into P7, 3.7s away from teammate Miller.
Then, out on slick tyres, Alex Marquez suddenly shot to P1 to beat Miller’s effort by 0.328s. And on his next lap, Marquez went 0.9s faster as the times started to tumble. The riders were getting more comfortable and finding where the grip was, and heading into the final six minutes, red sector times were everywhere.
Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) then briefly went P1 before Aleix Espargaro was top. The latter’s time at the top didn’t last though as Marquez returned to P1 by 1.1s – a 1:39.944 was the new pole time to beat. Espargaro and Marquez exchanged P1 again, with the Ducati star now 0.2s clear.
It was all happening. Miller, lighting up the rear end on the damp patch on the exit of Turn 13, climbed back to the summit before Zarco then went provisional pole. Miller and Zarco improved again a minute and a half later, as Binder popped up to P3 after finally heading out on slick tyres.
Espargaro took it back, but Binder, Martin and Miller beat his time as the latter sat provisional pole. But Espargaro was coming on one last push. On his final flying lap, the Spaniard beat Miller by 0.2s to claim a dream home GP pole, as Miller and Martin complete the front row in a spellbinding MotoGP™ Q2.
The last rider round was hovering within a tenth, but couldn’t quite attack for pole: Dani Pedrosa (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing). He’s on the second row though… right behind the reigning Champion.
How the top 12 are set for the Tissot Sprint and GP race
Binder comes through Q1 to claim a slightly ominous P4, with Bagnaia in fifth after a good rescue. MotoGP™ Legend Pedrosa will launch from that phenomenal P6, with Miguel Oliveira (CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP™ Team), Zarco and Marini on the third row.
Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing), Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) and Alex Marquez will start from P10, P11 and P12.
Does that whet your appetite for the Tissot Sprint this afternoon?* Tune into the Spanish GP Tissot Sprint at 15:00 local time (GMT+2)!