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Bagnaia breaks lap record to take pole in Aragon MotoGP

Francesco Bagnaia set a Motorland lap record on Saturday as he topped qualifying for the Aragon Grand Prix and grabbed his fifth pole position of the MotoGP season.

The Italian, who has won the last four races to surge up the rider standings, took pole with a lap of 1min 46.069sec to lead a Ducati sweep of the front row.

Australian Jack Miller, on the other factory bike, was second at 0.09sec with Italian Enea Bastianini on a Gresini-Ducati third at 0.154sec.

Bagnaia is 30 points behind leader and reigning champion Fabio Quartararo. 

The Frenchman squeezed onto the second row on his Yamaha, just 0.05sec faster than Italian Marco Bezzecchi on a Ducati VR46

Spaniard Aleix Espargaro, who rides an Aprilia and is third in the championship three points behind Bagnaia, and Frenchman Johann Zarco on a Pramac-Ducati are just ahead of Quartararo on the second row. 

Bagnaia broke the course lap record of 1:46.322 he set in qualifying last year, when he went on to win from pole. 

“This is my best lap time ever,” he said. “I never did a lap time like this. So I’m so perfect like this, I am very, very happy. Tomorrow we have to finish the job.”

Six-time world champion Marc Marquez, racing for the first time this season after a fourth surgery on his right arm, was 12th fastest in practice and had to ride in the first qualifying session where all but the top 10 battle for the last two places in Q2 and a chance to take pole. He was third fastest, just 0.066sec off second and will start from 13th.

Sprint races

Qualifying took place in front of a sparse crowd on a day when MotoGP organisers Dorna announced that next season there would effectively be two races each weekend with sprint races on Saturdays.

Riders will gain half the points for racing half the distance.

Qualifying on Saturday mornings will determine grid positions for both the sprint and the main race on Sunday.

Time will be added to the second qualifying session on the Friday which will be one-hour long.

Meanwhile, Suzuki announced that Joan Mir, who took part in free practice on Friday and Saturday morning, had chosen not to take part in qualifying and will also sit out the Japanese Grand Prix on September 25. 

The 2020 world champion, who is 13th in the championship, injured his right ankle in a violent crash at the start of the Austrian GP in August. The Spaniard then missed the San Marino GP in early September.  

Mir was suffering “a severe lack of mobility and an increase in pain”, the team said.

In Moto3, championship leader Ivan Guevara took pole position on a GasGas but the weekend marks the return after five years of fellow Spaniard Maria Herrera who is riding as a wild-card for the MTA Angeluss team with an all-female pit crew. 

Herrera, 28, raced 53 times in Moto3 from 2013 to 2017, with her best finish an 11th place in Australia in 2015. She has been competing in MotoE this season on much heavier electric bikes.

“We decided to create an all-female team because our desire is to increase the number of women working in the paddock, from riders to mechanics,” team manager Aurora Angelucci told Spanish newspaper Marca.

Riding for a team that has struggled in the middle of the pack, Herrera qualified 15th out of 16 riders who managed a time.

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