The premier class grid rejoiced at beautifully dry track conditions ahead of their qualifying outings but there was more joy for some than others by the end of Q2. After two action-packed sessions, there wasn’t enough room under the spotlight for all the stories that unfolded but the main actor was once again a simply sublime Jorge Martin. After hinting at it in practice, the Pramac man destroyed the all time lap record on his first lap right out the gates and then went on to dip into the 1:57s on his final lap, putting almost half a second into his rivals and securing an untouchable pole position. Ducati predictably held the majority on the front row but it was the supporting actors hogging the limelight, with Enea Bastianini auditioning as Martin’s closest challenger and claiming second on the grid. Meanwhile, Marc Marquez had a particularly busy afternoon on his way to breaking the Ducati stronghold of the front row. For a long time in Q1, the Spaniard looked like he would struggle to break into the top 20, but after choosing somewhat unreliable tour guides in both sessions, first with Jack Miller and then Pecco Bagnaia, Marquez was forced to get himself out of trouble. He did so in magnificent fashion, escaping from Q1 and then finding time out of thin air to climb into third.
The second row was just as Ducati-happy but, once again, they were not the colour their employers might’ve preferred, with Marco Bezzecchi and Luca Marini flanking Australian GP winner Alex Rins. If Gigi Dall’Igna wasn’t all that happy, at least Lin Jarvis was in the same boat to keep him company, with Franco Morbidelli as his lead rider in seventh position and with a double long lap penalty awaiting him on Sunday. The Italian opens third row ahead of Maverick Viñales and Pecco Bagnaia – the first of the title contenders, who all found trouble at turn eight. Bagnaia cruised through Q1 only to take a tumble in the closing stages of Q2 and drop to ninth on the grid, while Aleix Espargaro followed his example on the next lap and crashed while unrealistically trying to keep up with the poleman. The Aprilia man opens fourth row ahead of Joan Mir and Fabio Quartararo, who struggled to put a fast lap together following a moment at infamous turn eight and ended the day a second and a half off pole.
With the impressive line-up of Q1, some of the usual contenders were bound to miss out and this time it was Brad Binder who was best of the rest and starting 13th on the grid. Jack Miller looked like a top candidate to escape Q1 for much of the session but a late highside at turn two left him 14th, with Cal Crutchlow joining them on row five. A fairly anonymous Johann Zarco ended the day 18th and it will be of little comfort to be promoted one position by Pol Espargaro’s grid penalty for irresponsible riding in FP1.
|16||49||Fabio Di Giannantonio||Ducati||1:59.278||0.633||0.022|