MotoGP Catalan GP: Bagnaia spoils Aprilia party with Barcelona pole
Aprilia continued to top every session up to Q2, after RNF’s Miguel Oliveira was fastest in third practice despite a crash, plus he topped Q1 to advance to the pole shootout.
Setting the early pace, Espargaro would ultimately be denied a second home pole by Ducati’s Bagnaia after the latter fired in a 1m38.639s to take top spot by 0.104 seconds.
Oliveira completed the front row, his first front row since his Portuguese GP pole in 2020 when he was with Tech3 KTM, while Maverick Vinales was fourth on the third Aprilia inside the top four.
Marc Marquez was the only Japanese bike rider to make it into Q2 but could do no more than 12th on his Honda.
The eight-time world champion set the initial benchmark in Q2 on a used soft tyre following his Q1 outing, in which he shadowed KTM’s Jack Miller to go second fastest.
Marquez’s 1m40.665s was instantly blitzed, with Espargaro coming out on top after the opening salvo of laps with a 1m39.207s.
Brad Binder on the sole KTM in the Q2 session was next to go fastest with a 1m39.176s, before Vinales edged ahead with a 1m39.099s.
A 1m38.752s from Espargaro – who was battling chatter issues on the front-end – in the closing three minutes of the session returned him to the top of the order.
But it would not be enough to halt Bagnaia’s charge to a sixth pole, as the championship leader set a new lap record of 1m38.639s.
Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team
Photo by: MotoGP
A final flier from Espargaro kept him in touch, but he came up just 0.104s short as Oliveira completed the front row despite completing both 15-minute qualifying segments on one bike after wrecking his other one in his practice crash.
Vinales heads row two, 0.024s down on Oliveira, with Pramac duo Jorge Martin and Johann Zarco rounding out the top six.
Alex Marquez beat his Gresini Ducati team-mate Fabio Di Giannantonio to seventh, while Binder was shuffled back to ninth but stayed ahead of VR46’s Marco Bezzecchi.
Ducati’s Enea Bastianini was 11th ahead of Marquez, with Miller 13th having missed a Q2 spot by 0.162s.
Bastianini will have to cede three places on Sunday after he was found to have impeded Pol Espargaro in FP2 on Friday.
Espargaro qualified 14th on his Tech3 GasGas ahead of RNF’s Raul Fernandez and the Yamaha duo of Franco Morbidelli and Fabio Quartararo.
Last year’s Catalan GP winner challenged for a Q2 place in the early portion of the first qualifying segment, but a small crash at Turn 1 as he tried to stay upright in the gravel after running off curtailed his charge.
Luca Marini was a disappointing 18th on his VR46 Ducati ahead of Tech3’s Augusto Fernandez while the rest of the Hondas – Joan Mir and LCR’s Takaaki Nakagami and Iker Lecuona – rounded out the field.
MotoGP Catalan GP – Qualifying results