Quartararo makes it four poles in a row with new lap recordThe Frenchman fends off Bagnaia and Zarco in Mugello qualifying to continue his sensational Saturday form this year
Mugello, Italy, 29th May, 2021 : It’s four pole positions in a row for Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP’s Fabio Quartararo thanks to a stunning 1:45.187 in qualifying at the Gran Premio d’Italia Oakley, a new lap record enabled the World Championship leader to fend off closest rival Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) on Saturday afternoon. The man third in the title race, Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing), left it late to seal a front row start in P3 as the two Ducatis hunt the Yamaha closely.
Frustrations arise in Q1
The opening 15 minutes of qualifying saw title hopeful Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) have plenty of work to do in order to get into the pole position fight at Mugello, with the likes of Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) joining him. It was Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) and Enea Bastianini (Avintia Esponsorama) who led the way, with Viñales getting frustrated with Marc Marquez as the eight-time World Champion hooked himself onto the back wheel of the Yamaha.
Marc Marquez, in the slipstream of Viñales, went P1 as the latter placed P2, before Aleix Espargaro then climbed to P2. This meant Viñales needed to find time on his final lap, and he was through the third sector as the quickest man, but a mistake at the final corner cost the Spaniard. Marc Marquez and Aleix Espargaro headed into Q2, Viñales will start P13.
The pole position fight
Miller was the early pacesetter in Q2 but Aleix Espargaro, shadowing Bagnaia, launched to P1 with nine minutes of the session to go. Quartararo, doing what he does best on a soft tyre, set the timing screens alight to place provisional pole by 0.170s. At the end of the first runs, Bagnaia was P4 with Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) making up the provisional second row. But there was plenty more to come.
The other Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider was the first big mover in the second run, Miguel Oliveira pushing Miller off the front row with two minutes to go. All eyes were on El Diablo though, a stunner was slammed in by Quartararo and it was a new all-time lap record: a 1:45.187, 0.4s clear of Aleix Espargaro in second. Binder then demoted teammate Oliveira down to P4, the South African now on the front row.
On their final flying laps, Bagnaia managed to grab a vital P2 with Zarco edging Aleix Espargaro off the front row, as Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) – despite improving his time – had to settle for P5. Binder was shoved to P6 having occupied P3 in the closing seconds.
How the grid lines up
The top three in the Championship will sit 1-2-3 on the Mugello start line for Round 6 of the season, with Aprilia’s Espargaro claiming his best Saturday result of the season to spearhead Row 2. Miller will be hoping he can slipstream his way to the front when the lights go out on Sunday, P5 for the Aussie, with Binder leading the way for KTM in sixth.
Oliveira starts one place behind his teammate in P7, the Portuguese rider is joined by Team Suzuki Ecstar duo Rins and Joan Mir. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) completes the top 10 in qualifying, the Italian was able to beat 11th fastest Marc Marquez by less than a tenth, the number 93’s teammate Pol Espargaro was 1.2s off pole in P12.
Over two tenths clear in qualifying, can Quartararo return to winning ways in Ducati’s backyard on Sunday? He’s got his two closest rivals in the Championship lining up beside him on the grid, with all four of the title chase leaders right in the hunt. Tune into the MotoGP™ race at 14:00 local time (GMT+2).