With the King of COTA indisposed by less than royal duties and returning to find many challengers to his qualifying crown, pole position was fair game once again. And the game was played mostly amongst Bologna bullets, the red machines trading top place amongst themselves throughout Q2 before Jorge Martin turned his final flying lap into an all-time lap record around COTA. Untroubled by his additional Q1 duties, the Spaniard deposed Jack Miller by only three thousandths of a second, but the Australian will be happy enough with second on the grid after the nightmare of Argentina. 2021 polesitter Pecco Bagnaia briefly saw his name at the front as well but eventually dropped to third, one tenth of a second off pole.
And yet, a front row lockout was not enough for Ducati, with Johann Zarco and Enea Bastianini opening the second row of the grid, despite a minor tumble for the Italian at the start of the session. Fabio Quartararo didn’t have the easiest start to qualifying either, the world champion horizontally sightseeing at turn 19 with eight minutes remaining, but he rushed back to pitlane and saved a second row start on his second machine. Alex Rins navigated his way out of Q1 to qualify seventh, ahead of teammate Joan Mir and compatriot Marc Marquez – the Honda man dropping to ninth on the grid after failing to improve on his final run, uncharacteristically ending qualifying one second off pole.
The Hondas of Takaaki Nakagami and Pol Espargaro sandwich Luca Marini on the fourth row of the grid, while the championship leader will have to start from 13th position. With the three podium men from Argentina battling it out in Q1, one of them was always going to be disappointed and Aleix Espargaro sealed his own faith when he crashed at turn eight with three minutes remaining. The Spaniard will open row five ahead of teammate Maverick Viñales – in a rather unpleasant turn of events for Aprilia – and Andrea Dovizioso. KTM’s struggles continue, with Brad Binder as their leading light in 17th, surrounded by Marco Bezzecchi and Fabio Di Giannantonio on row six.
|18||49||Fabio Di Giannantonio||Ducati||2:03.576||1.089||0.109|