Quartararo storms to season-opening pole in scorching Jerez
Fabio Quartararo in action during practice. (Reuters)
Jerez de la Frontera (Spain) - The 21-year-old Quartararo posted a time of one minute and 36.705 seconds to claim his seventh MotoGP pole in only his second top-class campaign
Frenchman Fabio Quartararo powered to pole position for the season-opening Spanish Grand Prix on Saturday, setting a Jerez lap record time to edge out Yamaha's Maverick Vinales.
The 21-year-old Quartararo, who rides for the Yamaha satellite outfit, posted a time of one minute and 36.705 seconds to claim his seventh MotoGP pole in only his second top-class campaign.
"Today was a really great day," said Quartararo. "Of course it is a great feeling to be pole, especially after such a long time with no race, but this is only Saturday. We need to do the same on Sunday!"
He will be bidding for his maiden victory on Sunday, having ended his rookie season in 2019 with four runner-up finishes in the last seven races.
"I'm not obsessing over a first MotoGP win though, our goal tomorrow is to be on the podium," he said. "We have 13 races in a short space of time so we need consistent results."
Spaniard Vinales was 0.139sec slower as temperatures passed 34 degrees celsius, testing riders but boosting lap times.
"I feel really good, honestly. I think we improved the bike quite a lot, especially in the hot conditions," Vinales said. "I can't wait for tomorrow!"
The other Yamaha rider, Italian veteran Valentino Rossi who already knows he will be replaced next year when Quartararo steps up, could only qualify 11th.
Reigning world champion Marc Marquez will complete the front row for Honda as he starts his tilt at a seventh MotoGP title.
Marquez's younger brother Alex, making his MotoGP debut as his sibling's Honda teammate, failed to even make it into the second qualifying session.
There was bad news for Spaniard Alex Rins as he crashed out of the competition after suffering a fractured-dislocated right shoulder in a heavy fall on his Suzuki in Q2.
Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso also crashed in the dying seconds of qualifying but had already posted the eighth quickest time.