The even playing field and the great show had been predicted and that is just how it was. The MotoGP qualifiers were fifteen minutes of fire, where Jorge Lorenzo came out on top, probably the man of the hour. The Spaniard returned to pit lane after his first outing very angry about how the tyres were working, but he then put on two soft tyres to do a time of 1’38”680.
This is Jorge’s first pole astride the Ducati and it puts the Italian bike in the first spot on the grid in Barcelona since Stoner in 2008 although since 2009 it has always been on the front row at Montmelò. “It’s nice to do pole position – Jorge explains – I had to stay calm, because the first rear tyre worked poorly on the left side, so I risked crashing. I tried to stay calm and push with the second tyre and I succeeded.”
Behind the Majorcan was Marc Marquez. The number 93 rider came through Q1 easily, even making another one of his spectacular saves on turn 14, then missing out on the big strike by just 66 thousandths with the medium - soft combination. “It was similar to Mugello, but here I stayed up (laughing). After what happened, second place is good and my pace is positive.” Closing out the front row is Andrea Dovizioso, at a gap of about two tenths. “I am very happy because it was not easy to make it onto the front row. With Jorge so fast from the start it helped me shave off certain points, and we also improved in terms of pace. We’ll see how the tyres perform in the race.”
Fourth place for Maverick Vinales, the best of the Yamaha riders, followed by Andrea Iannone and Danilo Petrucci, all three very close to one another and close to a half a second from the leader. Opening up the third row will be Valentino Rossi (+0.586). Number 46 made a mistake (perhaps intentional since he had Marquez behind him) during his best lap, and he was unable to improve subsequently.
The Italian is ahead of Johann Zarco and Tito Rabat, skilfully doing the time while following Dovizioso. Cal Crutchlow is tenth, crashing toward the end, ahead of Dani Pedrosa and Nakagami, who went through to Q2 along with Marquez. Barely missing a spot in Q2, on the other hand, were Jack Miller and Hafizh Syahrin, 13thand 14th, ahead of Rins and Aleix Espargarò. Bradley Smith was the best of the KTM riders in 17thplace, followed by an aching Franco Morbidelli.