Zarco on pole for Portuguese MotoGP, Bastianini qualifies 18th and Bagnaia last

Johann Zarco. Picture:

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.

UPDATE: Bagnaia to hospital for further examination

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

Pos Num Rider Nat Team Bike Time Gap 1st/prev Session
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

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