Bagnaia takes COTA MotoGP pole, Miller qualifies 10th

Francesco Bagnaia. Picture: MotoGP.com

Francesco Bagnaia has qualified on pole for MotoGP’s Grand Prix of the Americas while factory Ducati team-mate Jack Miller was a disappointing 10th.

Bagnaia was a full three tenths faster than Monster Energy Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo, with this year’s last two remaining title contenders to be joined on the front row at the Circuit of The Americas by Repsol Honda’s six-time champion, Marc Marquez.

The latter had been fastest at the end of the first runs after something of a duel with Pramac Ducati rider Jorge Martin, who had been following #93 around the Texas circuit.

Marquez kicked things off with a 2:03.608s and Martin a 2:03.278s, but the Honda rider hit back with a 2:03.209s next time around as his rookie compatriot could only clock a 2:03.472s.

Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu LCR Honda) sat third when the track went quiet on a 2:03.299s, ahead of Johann Zarco (Pramac Ducati), Quartararo, and Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team).

Miller had gone almost seven tenths faster than anyone in practice when he set a 2:02.923s in the third session of the weekend, but at the end of the first runs in Qualifying 1, was only eighth on a 2:03.720s.

The Queenslander had gone slightly faster on his second push lap but it did not count, possibly due to a breach of track limits, and it would not have changed his position anyway.

At the start of the second runs, Bagnaia stormed to a 2:02.781s before Quartararo moved to second on a 2:03.129s.

Marquez got in only one flyer before the chequered flag, although it was apparently ruined by a big moment on the rear tyre through Turn 2.

Quartararo had time for one more flyer again and briefly looked like he could unseat Bagnaia from a third pole in a row, but ultimately took the chequers with a time of a 2:03.151s.

Martin ended up fourth with his initial hot lap time, ahead of Nakagami, Zarco, and Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar).

Qualifying 1 graduates Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) and Luca Marini (Sky VR46 Esponsorama Ducati) took eighth and ninth respectively.

Miller got only one push lap in on his second run and he failed to improve, leaving #43 10th on the grid alongside Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM) and Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda).

Back in Q1, Marini’s late 2:03.410s put him top and saw to it that Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha) was first to miss the cut.

Morbidelli had just improved to a 2:03.872s when he was bumped back to third in the first stanza of qualifying and thus 13th on the grid, while Andrea Dovizioso (Petronas Yamaha SRT) grabbed a starting berth of 14th with a 2:04.044s after the chequered flag.

Those two Italians will share Row 5 with Alex Marquez (Castrol LCR Honda), while Row 6 is made up of Enea Bastianini (Avintia Esponsorama Ducati), Iker Lecuona (Tech3 KTM), and Miguel Oliveira.

The latter was one of three crashers in the session, going down on his Red Bull KTM during his first run.

Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Gresini) and Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha SRT), who qualified 19th and 20th respectively, were the others.

Espargaro had not long had a high-speed spill at Turn 2 in Free Practice 4 when he dropped his second bike on his first lap out of the pits, but was sent back out for another run which yielded a 2:04.419s.

Rossi had gone as quick as a 2:04.699s when he went down through the slalom run, at Turn 6, with the chequered flag out.

Danilo Petrucci (Tech3 KTM) rounds out a reduced, 21-rider grid, with Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Gresini) absent as he grieves the death of his cousin in a Supersport 300 crash last weekend.

MotoGP’s 20-lap race at the Circuit of The Americas is set to start on Monday at 06:00 AEDT.

Qualifying: Americas MotoGP

Pos Num Rider Nat Team Bike Time Gap 1st/Prev
1 63 Francesco BAGNAIA ITA Ducati Lenovo Team Ducati 2:02.781  
2 20 Fabio QUARTARARO FRA Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 2:03.129 0.348 / 0.348
3 93 Marc MARQUEZ ESP Repsol Honda Team Honda 2:03.209 0.428 / 0.080
4 89 Jorge MARTIN ESP Pramac Racing Ducati 2:03.278 0.497 / 0.069
5 30 Takaaki NAKAGAMI JPN LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda 2:03.292 0.511 / 0.014
6 5 Johann ZARCO FRA Pramac Racing Ducati 2:03.379 0.598 / 0.087
7 42 Alex RINS ESP Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Suzuki 2:03.453 0.672 / 0.074
8 36 Joan MIR ESP Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Suzuki 2:03.528 0.747 / 0.075
9 10 Luca MARINI ITA SKY VR46 Avintia Ducati 2:03.546 0.765 / 0.018
10 43 Jack MILLER AUS Ducati Lenovo Team Ducati 2:03.720 0.939 / 0.174
11 33 Brad BINDER RSA Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 2:03.781 1.000 / 0.061
12 44 Pol ESPARGARO ESP Repsol Honda Team Honda 2:03.875 1.094 / 0.094
13 21 Franco MORBIDELLI ITA Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 2:03.872 Q1 / Q1
14 04 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Petronas Yamaha SRT Yamaha 2:04.044 Q1 / 0.172
15 73 Alex MARQUEZ ESP LCR Honda CASTROL Honda 2:04.100 Q1 / 0.056
16 23 Enea BASTIANINI ITA Avintia Esponsorama Ducati 2:04.118 Q1 / 0.018
17 27 Iker LECUONA ESP Tech 3 KTM Factory Racing KTM 2:04.324 Q1 / 0.206
18 88 Miguel OLIVEIRA POR Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 2:04.392 Q1 / 0.068
19 41 Aleix ESPARGARO ESP Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia 2:04.419 Q1 / 0.027
20 46 Valentino ROSSI ITA Petronas Yamaha SRT Yamaha 2:04.699 Q1 / 0.280
21 9 Danilo PETRUCCI ITA Tech 3 KTM Factory Racing KTM 2:04.829 Q1 / 0.130

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