More, from a press release issued by Dorna:
Bagnaia vs Aleix decides pole as an Aprilia armada comes out swinging in Barcelona
Aleix Espargaro, Oliveira and Viñales queue up behind the reigning Champion on the grid as the stage is set for some fireworks
Saturday, 02 September 2023
Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) grabbed another sensational pole position at the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya, setting a new lap record to just pip home hero Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) to the honours. The battle went down to the wire as the number 41 had one last shot at overhauling the reigning Champion, but just lost out by a tenth at the flag. In third it’s a first front row with Aprilia for Miguel Oliveira (CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP™ Team), with the Portuguese rider turning a crash earlier in FP2 into going fastest in that session, fastest in Q1 and then taking third on the grid overall… just 0.005 off second.
The stage is most definitely set for some stunning action in Barcelona as Aprilia come out gunning for Bagnaia and Ducati this weekend!
After topping FP2 despite a crash, Oliveira stormed to the top of Q1 with the only 1:38 of the session. The race to join him in Q2 was tense but it was decided earlier than we’ve often seen as Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) judged the perfect wheel to tag onto: that of Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing).
To the Australian’s likely frustration, the number 93 pipped him over the line by enough margin to hold onto the end of the session, with Miller’s last attack also not able to challenge as he faded in the final couple of sectors. The same was true for Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) as the Italian’s tougher weekend continued.
The tougher weekend also continued for 2022 winner Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) as he suffered a run off that became a tip off as he toppled over in the gravel, interrupting his session. By the end of it he was left seventh in Q1.
Oliveira and Marc Marquez headed through.
After the first runs it was Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) on provisional pole ahead of Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory) and Aleix Espargaro, but the huge shuffle was about to begin.
Heading out on take two it became a flurry of fast laps as red sectors lit up the timing screens, with Marc Marquez tucked in behind Bagnaia. The first big move was Aleix Espargaro into provisional pole before Bagnaia hit back. Oliveira then leapt up to second, leaving the factory Noale machine of Aleix Espargaro down in third.
Bagnaia was the next rider setting the timing screens alight, and so was Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing), but the #1 had a clean run to the line whereas Martin came across Marc Marquez – also pushing and very much allowed to take his own line – and that lap went away. It was all coming down to the Aprilias to try and deny Bagnaia.
Viñales crossed the line but didn’t move up from fourth, leaving Aleix Espargaro as the last rider pushing. Alone on track, the number 41 made it a red first sector and a red second sector, but then lost a few hundredths in the third. Could he pull it back? As he shot over the line it wasn’t quite the fairytale pole position as the deficit was ultimately a tenth – but that puts him second on the grid behind Bagnaia, and a few thousandths ahead of Oliveira.
Behind the Bagnaia-Aleix-Oliveira front row, Viñales starts fourth as the Aprilia armada continues. Martin launches from the middle of the second row, with Prima Pramac teammate Johann Zarco alongside in P6.
The third row is headed by Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™), who qualifies seventh with a lap one single thousandth faster than teammate Fabio Di Giannantonio in P8. Binder ultimately got shuffled down to P9, but is also just three thousandths off the Gresini ahead!
The tougher weekend continued for Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) as he lines up in P10, ahead of Enea Bastianini (Ducati Lenovo Team) for the Tissot Sprint at least. Bastianini has a 3-place grid penalty for the Grand Prix race.
In P12 comes Marc Marquez, whose 1:39.701 was seven tenths off the lap he set in Q1. What can he do once the lights go out?
The stage is set for another stunner this afternoon and on Sunday, so make sure to tune in for the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya!