European MotoGP: Espargaro puts KTM on pole in wet qualifying

Lewis Duncan
·3-min read

The Ricardo Tormo Circuit near Valencia, which was the scene of Pol Espargaro’s and KTM’s first-ever MotoGP podium in 2018 in a wet grand prix, saw Espargaro edging Alex Rins by 0.041 seconds in qualifying for the first European GP since 1995.

Rins set the early pace on the Suzuki with a 1m41.714s, though was soon usurped by teammate Mir, who posted a 1m41.662s.

Top spot continued to change hands as the track continued to dry out, though not enough for a switch to slicks.

Franco Morbidelli on the SRT Yamaha, LCR’s Takaaki Nakagami and Rins all traded provisional pole in the first runs in Q2, with the Suzuki prevailing with a 1m41.254s.

With just under six minutes to go, Nakagami guided his year-old LCR Honda to a 1m40.530s to go seven tenths clear of the field at that point – though his charge was halted with a crash at the last corner in the closing moments.

At the same time as the Japanese rider’s crash, Rins edged ahead with a 1m40.525s to return to top spot and set up Suzuki’s first pole since Catalunya 2015.

But KTM’s Espargaro lit up the timing screens on his final effort and produced a 1m40.434s to claim his second pole of the season.

Rins will start alongside as the leading member of the top six title contenders, with Nakagami holding onto the front row in third despite his crash.

Johann Zarco heads row two on his Avintia Ducati having come through Q1 ahead of Mir and Pramac’s Jack Miller, while Aleix Espargaro on the Aprilia qualified seventh.

Q1 pacesetter Miguel Oliveira on the Tech 3 KTM could only manage eighth having topped Q1 and the wet FP4, with Teruel GP winner Morbidelli a disappointing ninth on his Yamaha.

 behind KTM’s Brad Binder and the works Ducati of Andrea Dovizioso.

Dovizioso bizarrely aborted a lap which was set to put him at the top of the timesheets at the start of the session and never recovered.

Binder will have to serve a long lap penalty in Sunday’s race as punishment for his lap one collision with Miller last time out at Aragon.

 ahead of teammate Alex Marquez.

 fastest in qualifying on his Yamaha having crashed in FP4, but will start Sunday’s race from pitlane for exceeding his engine allocation for the season this weekend and fitting a sixth motor.

 ahead of Pramac’s Francesco Bagnaia and the returning Valentino Rossi, who missed all of Friday’s running as he awaited the results of a COVID-19 test.

 in the session having dominated the wet French GP last month, with the Ducati rider only bettering Aprilia debutant Lorenzo Savadori and outgoing Avintia rider Tito Rabat.

Q2 results:

1

Spain
Spain

Pol Espargaro

KTM RC16
KTM RC16

KTM

1'40.434

2

Spain
Spain

Alex Rins

Suzuki GSX-RR
Suzuki GSX-RR

Suzuki

1'40.475

0.041

3

Japan
Japan

Takaaki Nakagami

Honda RC213V
Honda RC213V

Honda

1'40.530

0.096

4

France
France

Johann Zarco

Ducati Desmosedici GP19
Ducati Desmosedici GP19

Ducati

1'40.577

0.143

5

Spain
Spain

Joan Mir

Suzuki GSX-RR
Suzuki GSX-RR

Suzuki

1'40.704

0.270

6

Australia
Australia

Jack Miller

Ducati Desmosedici GP20
Ducati Desmosedici GP20

Ducati

1'40.893

0.459

7

Spain
Spain

Aleix Espargaro

Aprilia RS-GP
Aprilia RS-GP

Aprilia

1'40.997

0.563

8

Portugal
Portugal

Miguel Oliveira

KTM RC16
KTM RC16

KTM

1'41.328

0.894

9

Italy
Italy

Franco Morbidelli

Yamaha YZR-M1
Yamaha YZR-M1

Yamaha

1'41.557

1.123

10

South Africa
South Africa

Brad Binder

KTM RC16
KTM RC16

KTM

1'41.781

1.347

11

France
France

Fabio Quartararo

Yamaha YZR-M1
Yamaha YZR-M1

Yamaha

1'41.943

1.509

12

Italy
Italy

Andrea Dovizioso

Ducati Desmosedici GP20
Ducati Desmosedici GP20

Ducati

1'42.249

1.815

View full results

Q1 results:

1

Portugal
Portugal

Miguel Oliveira

KTM RC16
KTM RC16

KTM

1'40.771

2

France
France

Johann Zarco

Ducati Desmosedici GP19
Ducati Desmosedici GP19

Ducati

1'40.821

0.050

3

Germany
Germany

Stefan Bradl

Honda RC213V
Honda RC213V

Honda

1'41.010

0.239

4

Spain
Spain

Alex Marquez

Honda RC213V
Honda RC213V

Honda

1'41.276

0.505

5

Spain
Spain

Maverick Viñales

Yamaha YZR-M1
Yamaha YZR-M1

Yamaha

1'41.310

0.539

6

United Kingdom
United Kingdom

Cal Crutchlow

Honda RC213V
Honda RC213V

Honda

1'41.311

0.540

7

Italy
Italy

Francesco Bagnaia

Ducati Desmosedici GP20
Ducati Desmosedici GP20

Ducati

1'41.395

0.624

8

Italy
Italy

Valentino Rossi

Yamaha YZR-M1
Yamaha YZR-M1

Yamaha

1'42.039

1.268

9

Italy
Italy

Danilo Petrucci

Ducati Desmosedici GP20
Ducati Desmosedici GP20

Ducati

1'42.244

1.473

10

Italy
Italy

Lorenzo Savadori

Aprilia RS-GP
Aprilia RS-GP

Aprilia

1'42.532

1.761

11

Spain
Spain

Tito Rabat

Ducati Desmosedici GP19
Ducati Desmosedici GP19

Ducati

1'43.030

2.259

View full results