Championship leader Fabio Quartararo claimed his fifth successive pole of the season, narrowly clocking the fastest time in qualifying Saturday for the Catalan MotoGP.
Yamaha’s French rider is joined on the front row of Sunday’s race in Montmelo by Australian Jack Miller’s Ducati and Johann Zarco on Ducati’s satellite Pramac bike.
Quartararo’s fastest qualifying lap of 1min 38.853 sec was only 0.037 seconds quicker than Miller.
It made him the first rider to record pole position in five straight races since Marc Marquez in 2014
Quartararo, 22, is aiming for a fourth win this season. He has a 24-point lead in the World Championship over Zarco, another Ducati rider Francesco Bagnaia is two points further back but will start only ninth. Miller is fourth.
Both Quartararo and Miller recorded their times early in the session and had problems when they went for a second flying lap.
“I did a great first run. But actually my lap was not that perfect,” Quartararo said in television interviews in English and French straight after finishing.
He began well in a second attempt but with other riders crashing, the stewards waved caution flags.
“I was developing a pretty good one,” Quartararo said. “Unfortunately there were a lot of yellow flags”.
One of the riders who came off was Miller who went flying onto the track.
“I came out of it pretty good, landed on my back and just slid off,” said Miller, speaking in tattered leathers.
Zarco jumped onto the front row late in the session after following South African Brad Binder’s wheel at the start of the lap and then muscling past the KTM on turn 10.
“Brad was going pretty fast and we almost fight a little bit.”
“We are still missing something on the bike,” Zarco said. “Alone it’s pretty difficult to have the feeling but when you follow someone the bike has a potential that is incredible.”
The two Ducati riders reacted differently when asked if they could beat Quartararo.
“Fabio has incredible rhythm that I think will be difficult to fight against,” said Zarco. “If we can be constant enough for the podium it will be nice.”
Miller was more bullish.
“I definitely found a heap of pace,” he said. “I feel relatively excited for tomorrow’s race.”
“Hopefully we’ll be able to take it to Fabio.”
Portuguese rider Miguel Oliveira (KTM), Italian Franco Morbidelli (Yamaha-SRT) and Spaniard Maverick Vinales (Yamaha) are on the second row.
The race marks the first this season with fans. The track is being allowed 20 percent of total capacity, or 24,000 people, per day.
“So happy to see the fans back,” said Quartararo. “It’s giving a boost to everyone.”