Zarco on pole for Portuguese MotoGP, Bastianini qualifies 18th and Bagnaia last
Sunday 24th April, 2022 - 12:08am
Pramac Racing’s Johann Zarco has taken pole position for the Portuguese Grand Prix after two ultra-dramatic MotoGP qualifying sessions at Portimao.
After persistent rain on Friday, and more showers for much of Saturday, slicks were finally seen for the first time at the start of Qualifying 1.
However, the track was still only drying, and the ambient temperature was low, with the conditions biting championship leader Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing) and factory Ducati rider Francesco Bagnaia.
Both crashed in that session, the former qualifying only 18th and the latter failing to set a time at all, before he went to the medical centre after falling hard on his right shoulder.
In Qualifying 2, Marc Marquez looked to have set a lap fast enough for pole if not for a late crash for Repsol Honda team-mate Pole Espargaro which had brought out yellow flags and thus saw #93 stripped of his time.
However, Zarco subsequently went faster anyway, with a 1:42.003s well after the chequered flag on his Ducati.
He will share the front row with Suzuki Ecstar’s Joan Mir and Aprilia Racing’s Aleix Espargaro, with the Ducati Lenovo Team’s Jack Miller shuffled back from first to fourth in the closing stages of Q2.
By the time the latter 15-minute stanza got underway, the track was good enough for all 12 riders who made it through to start on soft slicks.
However, such were the conditions, it was like a wet session in so much that everyone went for a long, single run, with lap times constantly tumbling.
Alex Marquez (Castrol LCR Honda) was used to the conditions having come from Q1 and he was fastest initially on a 1:46.569s and then a 1:45.654s, before Mir clocked a 1:45.414s on his second flyer.
Alex Marquez was back on top next time through with a 1:43.774s, and further moved the benchmark to a 1:43.211s two laps later, but that was knocked off almost immediately by Zarco’s 1:43.151s.
In the final few minutes, provisional pole was taken by Mir on a 1:43.055s, then Zarco on a 1:42.620s, and Miller on a 1:42.503s.
Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) set a 1:42.370s and then Marc Marquez a 1:42.295s with the chequered flag out, but those times were quickly scrubbed due to Pol Espargaro’s front-end lose at Turn 15, dropping #20 back to third and #93 all the way to eighth.
Mir then set a 1:42.198s before Aleix Espargaro put in a 1:42.235s and Zarco a 1:42.003s, to snatch pole position.
Miller was thus fourth-fastest, from Quartararo Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Ducati).
Bizarrely, Alex Marquez crashed on what seemed to be his in lap at the end of the session, but he will head up the third row of the grid on Sunday afternoon, from fellow Q1 graduate Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Ducati) and Marc Marquez.
Row 4 will be comprised of Pol Espargaro in 10th, alongside Red Bull KTM duo Miguel Oliveira in 11th and Brad Binder in 12th.
Q1 began with drama caused by the dilemma over whether or not to take slick tyres on a drying track.
Remy Gardner (Tech3 KTM) and Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu LCR Honda) both went out on slicks but the former highsided on a wet patch on his out lap and the latter was straight back into the pits.
Even so, Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) decided to also try dry-weather tyres, and he too was flung from his bike when the rear of the #63 Ducati kicked loose on the way to Turn 3, with the Italian taking no further part in proceedings.
Bastianini (Gresini Ducati) was fastest on a 1:50.618s once he set a lap time, on wets, before being usurped by Nakagami on a 1:50.478s, after a switch to wets, and then Alex Marquez on a 1:50.435s on wets.
More braved slicks with five minutes to go in the session, and while they were slower initially, the choice soon started to pay dividends.
However, conditions were still treacherous for those who took the slick tyre gamble, as illustrated by Raul Fernandez (Tech3 KTM) crashing in the 14th minute and Bastianini with the chequered flag out.
Andrea Dovizioso (WithU RNF Yamaha) went fastest in the 14th minute with a 1:49.695s on wets before Jorge Martin (Pramac Ducati) set a 1:48.870s on slicks.
After the chequers were unfurled, Alex Marquez set a 1:46.316s and then Marini a 1:47.199s, both on slicks, with Martin subsequently able to fashion only a 1:47.936s on his last lap.
The latter will thus start 13th, ahead of Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing), Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Ducati), Dovizioso, Nakagami, and Bastianini.
Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha) is set to head up Row 7 of the grid, from Gardner, who went back out after his crash, and wildcard Lorenzo Savadori (Aprilia Racing).
The rest of the grid will be Darryn Binder (WithU RNF Yamaha) in 22nd, from Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar), Fernandez, and Bagnaia.
Sunday’s 25-lap race starts at 22:00 AEST.
Qualifying: Portuguese MotoGP
|1||5||Johann ZARCO||FRA||Pramac Racing||Ducati||1:42.003||Q2|
|2||36||Joan MIR||SPA||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||Suzuki||1:42.198||0.195/0.195||Q2|
|3||41||Aleix ESPARGARO||SPA||Aprilia Racing||Aprilia||1:42.235||0.232/0.037||Q2|
|4||43||Jack MILLER||AUS||Ducati Lenovo Team||Ducati||1:42.503||0.500/0.268||Q2|
|5||20||Fabio QUARTARARO||FRA||Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||1:42.716||0.713/0.213||Q2|
|6||72||Marco BEZZECCHI||ITA||Mooney VR46 Racing Team||Ducati||1:42.716||0.713/0.000||Q2|
|7||73||Alex MARQUEZ||SPA||LCR Honda CASTROL||Honda||1:42.903||0.900/0.187||Q2|
|8||10||Luca MARINI||ITA||Mooney VR46 Racing Team||Ducati||1:43.179||1.176/0.276||Q2|
|9||93||Marc MARQUEZ||SPA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||1:43.575||1.572/0.396||Q2|
|10||44||Pol ESPARGARO||SPA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||1:43.832||1.829/0.257||Q2|
|11||88||Miguel OLIVEIRA||POR||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||1:44.066||2.063/0.234||Q2|
|12||33||Brad BINDER||RSA||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||1:44.710||2.707/0.644||Q2|
|13||89||Jorge MARTIN||SPA||Pramac Racing||Ducati||1:47.936||1.620||Q1|
|14||12||Maverick VIÑALES||SPA||Aprilia Racing||Aprilia||1:49.332||3.016/1.396||Q1|
|15||49||Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO||ITA||Gresini Racing MotoGP||Ducati||1:49.639||3.323/0.307||Q1|
|16||04||Andrea DOVIZIOSO||ITA||WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team||Yamaha||1:49.695||3.379/0.056||Q1|
|17||30||Takaaki NAKAGAMI||JPN||LCR Honda IDEMITSU||Honda||1:49.889||3.573/0.194||Q1|
|18||23||Enea BASTIANINI||ITA||Gresini Racing MotoGP||Ducati||1:50.618||4.302/0.729||Q1|
|19||21||Franco MORBIDELLI||ITA||Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||1:50.702||4.386/0.084||Q1|
|20||87||Remy GARDNER||AUS||Tech3 KTM Factory Racing||KTM||1:50.953||4.637/0.251||Q1|
|21||32||Lorenzo SAVADORI||ITA||Aprilia Racing||Aprilia||1:51.308||4.992/0.355||Q1|
|22||40||Darryn BINDER||RSA||WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team||Yamaha||1:51.639||5.323/0.331||Q1|
|23||42||Alex RINS||SPA||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||Suzuki||1:52.300||5.984/0.661||Q1|
|24||25||Raul FERNANDEZ||SPA||Tech3 KTM Factory Racing||KTM||1:53.603||7.287/1.303||Q1|
|25||63||Francesco BAGNAIA||ITA||Ducati Lenovo Team||Ducati||Q1|