Moto2: Quartararo ups the pace for debut pole
Fabio Quartararo (HRD – Speed Up Racing) will start tomorrow’s Moto2™ Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya race from pole position, setting a blistering 1:43.474 to beat 2017 race winner Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) and Marcel Schroetter (Dynavolt Intact GP) to secure his first ever intermediate class pole.
It was Schroetter who was the man to beat for the majority of the session, jumping to the top of the timesheets from the off, setting a benchmark of 1:43.619 – the fastest lap of the weekend. The German’s time wouldn’t be beaten until home rider Marquez, on his 14th flying lap, went 0.029 quicker.
Quartararo, who has been up the sharp end throughout the weekend, then stepped up to the mark. The Speed Up rider was looking comfortable in P3, until the 19-year-old increased the pace with just three minutes remaining – a 1:43.474 topping Marquez by over a tenth, with no one having an answer before the chequered flag was waved.
After leading FP3 by over three tenths of a second, Championship leader Francesco Bagnaia (SKY Racing Team VR46) had to settle for fourth quickest in qualifying. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was the leading KTM rider in Catalunya, he picked up his equal best qualifying finish of the season in fifth after spending much of the session battling for a top six place. The South African is in an Italian sandwich in the middle of row two, with Italtrans Racing Team rider Mattia Pasini in sixth – 0.038 back from Binder.
Xavi Vierge (Dynavolt Intact GP) spearheads the third row of the grid, the Barcelona resident was looking good for a solid top six start until a crash at T1 put an end to his front row aspirations – he’ll start P7. The leading rookie was once again Joan Mir (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), the reigning Moto3™ World Champion has been in and around the top ten all weekend and will start from eighth on Sunday. Rounding out the third row is Sam Lowes (Swiss Innovative Investors), propelling himself into P9 in the final ten minutes to finish 0.012 ahead of Championship protagonist Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP40), who recovered from an early crash to start tenth.
One notable absentee from the top ten was Mugello race winner Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo), who’s qualifying form continues to be a worry having failed to finish higher than P10 since Argentina. The Portuguese rider will take good omen from the Italian GP - coming from P11 to win - but starting from P17 for Sunday’s race gives the KTM rider plenty of work to do.
Stefano Manzi (Forward Racing Team) suffered his third crash of the day in qualifying, with Tetsuta Nagashima (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) also crashing – riders ok.