Espargaro gives Aprilia its first pole of the MotoGP era

Aprilia MotoGP rider Aleix Espargaro claimed the brand’s first pole position since 2000 in thrilling qualifying at Termas de Rio Hondo in Argentina.

The Noale firm’s first MotoGP-era pole – the previous one being courtesy of Jeremy McWilliams in his 500cc days – was also the third of Espargaro’s premier class career. His other two came on two different bikes – the Forward Yamaha in Assen in 2014 and the Suzuki in Barcelona in 2015.

After dominating the pre-qualifying FP2, Espargaro immediately reclaimed his lead at the start of the pole vault shootout, taking a three-tenths lead over the chasing pack with a 1m38.108s.

That seemed enough on its own for pole, but Jorge Martin unleashed a phenomenal final sector to take a quarter-second lead over the Aprilia man, forcing him to attack again.

However, Espargaro put in another strong lap with his final effort, ending up with a time of 1m37.688s that beat rider Pramac Ducati Martin by a tenth and a half.

VR46 Ducati rider Luca Marini, who had narrowly slipped into a direct Q2 spot in FP2, followed Martin on the Spaniard’s quickest lap to complete the front row behind him.

Pol Espargaro (Honda) will line up directly behind his brother Aleix in fourth, although he had to struggle during Q1 – having risked ruining his day with a crash at the start of FP2.

Maverick Vinales had finished an Aprilia 1-2 behind elder Espargaro in FP2 but had to settle for fifth in qualifying, just ahead of former Yamaha teammate Fabio Quartararo.

The defending champion was infuriated when factory Ducati rider Jack Miller got in his way on a crucial late push lap, with Miller moving up to 11th – after crashing on his first attempted Q2 – and currently under investigation.

The Suzukis of Alex Rins and Joan Mir will top the third row – despite one of Mir’s bikes refusing to start at the start of Q2 – joined by Pramac Ducati’s Johann Zarco.

Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda) was expected to miss the weekend completely with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, but, after testing negative just in time, fought through the first quarter and finished 10th, ahead of Miller and KTM’s Brad Binder – who had one of his KTM RC16’s expire in a cloud of smoke during FP2.

Gresini’s championship leader Enea Bastianini and fellow Ducati rider Enea Bastianini were both a few hundredths away from advancing to Q2 but ultimately failed.

Bagnaia, who was frustrated with riders trying to keep up with him at the end of an FP2 session where his last attempt was thwarted by fellow Valentino Rossi protege Marco Bezzecchi overtaking him at Turn 1 and crashing immediately, n couldn’t do anything in his first race. in Q1.

Struggling to keep his Desmosedici under control over the bumps, he eventually improved considerably – but not enough – on his second run.

Factory Yamaha rider Franco Morbidelli made it an all-Italian line behind Bastianini and Bagnaia, with KTM’s Miguel Oliveira – the winner last time out at Mandalika – only managing to finish 16th, 0.006s ahead of the Bezzecchi rookie.

Honda tester Stefan Bradl, competing in place of Marc Marquez this weekend, was nine-tenths off the pace in Q1 and will complete the grid.

Qualifying results

Pos name Team Bike

Group 1

Group 2

1 Aleix Espargaro Aprilia Racing Aprilia 1m37.688s
2 jorge martin Pramac Racing Ducati 1m37.839s
3 Luca Marini Mooney VR46 Racing Team Ducati 1m38.119s
4 Pol Espargaro Repsol Honda Team Honda 1m38.501s 1m38.165s
5 Maverick Vinales Aprilia Racing Aprilia 1m38.196s
6 Fabio Quartararo Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 1m38.281s
7 Alex Rins The SUZUKI ECSTAR team Suzuki 1m38.455s
8 Joan Mir The SUZUKI ECSTAR team Suzuki 1m38.516s
9 John Zarco Pramac Racing Ducati 1m38.537s
ten Takaaki Nakagami LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda 1m38.523s 1m38.576s
11 Jack Miller Ducati Lenovo Team Ducati 1m38.584s
12 Brad Binder Red Bull KTM Factory Race KTM 1m38.932s
13 Enea Bastianini Gresini Racing Moto GP Ducati 1m38.566s
14 Francesco Bagnaia Ducati Lenovo Team Ducati 1m38.61s
15 Franco Morbidelli Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 1m38.805s
16 Miguel Oliveira Red Bull KTM Factory Race KTM 1m38.871s
17 Marco Bezzecchi Mooney VR46 Racing Team Ducati 1m38.877s
18 Andrea Dovizioso With U Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team Yamaha 1m38.938s
19 Alex Marquez LCR Honda Castrol Honda 1m39.095s
20 Fabio Di Giannantonio Gresini Racing Moto GP Ducati 1m39.126s
21 Raul Fernandez Tech3 KTM Factory Race KTM 1m39.153s
22 Remy Gardner Tech3 KTM Factory Race KTM 1m39.159s
23 Darryn Binder With U Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team Yamaha 1m39.38s
24 Stefan Bradl Honda H.R.C. Honda 1m39.487s

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