Marquez qualifies 14th after crash as Quartararo takes Jerez pole

·3-min read

Six-time world champion Marc Marquez qualified Saturday for the Spanish MotoGP despite a spectacular crash in morning practice while Fabio Quartararo claimed his fourth straight Jerez pole position.

Marquez fell heavily in the third practice session at the circuit where last year he broke his right arm in the opening race to end his 2020 campaign.

After a medical examination his Honda team tweeted that the 28-year-old Spaniard would race on.

"After his check, marcmarquez93 has been declared FIT for the remainder of the SpanishGP," his Honda team tweeted.

Marquez had to go into the first qualifying session and was only fourth fastest, missing a chance to advance to the 12-man second session and battle for a place at the front of the grid.

Championship leader Quartararo dominated the times all weekend on his factory Yamaha but was pushed hard in final qualifying by Yamaha satellite rider Franco Morbidelli, who was 0.057 seconds back, and Jack Miller, 0.105 slower on a Ducati.

The Frenchman recorded his fastest time of the last session, 1 minute 36.755 seconds just as the checkered flag fell to end qualifying.

"(It) Feels really good," said Quartararo. "It was one of the qualifyings where I was right on the limit. I thought I was going to crash."

Quartararo took pole in Jerez in 2019 and again in both races on the track last season. He followed his pole in the 2020 season-opening Spanish MotoGP with his maiden victory in the class.

Morbidelli had three laps wiped out by stewards over the course of the weekend, including one that would have put him directly into the second qualifying session.

"It was a tricky day. We got informed right before free practise four that we needed to go through Q1 so there was a big drama inside the pit box because we didn't have the tyres," said the Italian. "But we were able to make a good qualifying overall."

- 'Testing time' -

Miller underwent surgery on his arm at the start of April and did not finish the Portuguese Grand Prix in Portimao on April 18.

"It's been a testing time the last couple of weeks," he said. "I know it's only qualifying, but it's great to be back."

Quartararo and Morbidelli looked less good when they practised their starts after qualifying.

Frenchman Johann Zarco, who will start sixth, said Ducati riders would focus on what might be a Yamaha weakness.

"With our good starting ability, if we can block Fabio and Franco a little bit, then there is a way to have a good race," said Zarco.

Marquez meanwhile will start from the fifth row.

The Spaniard, who missed the rest of last season after crashing in the opener in Jerez, made his comeback after nine months out and multiple bouts of surgery at the Portuguese MotoGP last month.

He admitted to a "lack of strength" after he struggled in Friday practice at Jerez.

In Saturday's opening session he lost control of his bike at 180km at turn seven, sliding across gravel on his left arm and into a barrier.

Clearly shaken he managed to walk away, returning to the pits on a scooter.

MotoGP doctor Angel Charte said he ordered Marquez to undergo a scan as "a check-up".

"He has a huge contusion to the neck and top of the back, " Charte said.

In Moto2, Australian Remy Gardner the current championship leader, will start on pole.

Japanese rider Tatsuki Suzuki on a Honda is on pole in Moto3. Pedro Acosta of KTM, the championship leader and, at 16, the revelation of the early season after two victories, has struggled all weekend and will start 13th.

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