The headline act of what felt like a 24-hour rave did well to keep us entertained, the opening set seeing Ducati lose their lead man and their championship leader in Q1, followed by a sublime Aprilia encore. After a very strong FP2, Aleix Espargaro looked like the main threat for pole from the start, taking top spot provisionally by three tenths of a second, and resisted an attack from Jorge Martin to secure a first pole position for Aprilia in the MotoGP era. In the shadow of history being made, Martin settled for second on the grid, while Luca Marini rewarded his team's all-nighter with a first front row start, only four tenths off pole.
While his brother hogged the spotlight, Pol Espargaro had a much more challenging afternoon, stuck with one bike after a late crash in FP1 and having to go through Q1. He did so in style, from the top of the timesheets, before putting in a strong performance to climb onto the second row of the grid. Maverick Viñales could not quite replicate Aprilia’s FP2 feat but still climbed as high as fifth on the grid, ahead of reigning champion Fabio Quartararo, who got distracted by a squabble with Jack Miller on his final time attack.
Alex Rins and Joan Mir kept close once again and will open the third row of the grid, with Mir having a much more tense start to Q2 as his number one bike refused to start and then a yellow flag hindered his progress early on. Johann Zarco joins the Suzukis on the third row, eight tenths off pole. After leading FP1, Takaaki Nakagami was back on the pace to escape Q1 but could not climb any higher than 10th, opening fourth row ahead of Miller, whose session started with a tumble at turn one and ended with an investigation for getting in Quartararo’s way. Brad Binder closes fourth row, as the lead KTM rider and the only one in Q2 after Miguel Oliveira faded to 16th at the end of Q1.
However, the big stories of Q1 came from the Ducati camp, where Pecco Bagnaia got even more frustrated than he already was in FP2 and was yet to set a time with five minutes remaining of the session. He soon got back on track to briefly top the session but the Hondas hit straight back and left him stranded in 14th. Championship leader Enea Bastianini looked stronger at the start of the session, but a few mistakes dropped him to 13th on the grid, to cap a pretty gloomy Q1 for Ducati.
UPDATE: Jack Miller has been given a three-place grid penalty for riding slowly on the line and disturbing another rider. This promotes Binder, Bastianini and Bagnaia one position on the grid, dropping the Australian to 14th.
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