Espargaro snatches pole; Martin crashes and Marquez 14th

On Saturday ahead of this weekend’s sixth round of the 2024 season, Espargaro grabbed a first pole of the season with a new lap record of 1m38.190s at the end of a dramatic Q2.

For much of the session, it looked like reigning world champion Francesco Bagnaia would take pole on the factory Ducati having set the best pace at the end of the first runs of Q2.

But a blistering final lap from Espargaro saw him snatch the position away by 0.031 seconds from Bagnaia, while Trackhouse Racing’s Raul Fernandez was third.

Championship leader Jorge Martin crashed his Pramac Ducati late on at Turn 2 and was left in seventh.

Failing to get out Q1 for the second round in a row, Gresini’s Marc Marquez will have to start from 14th for this weekend’s sprint and grand prix.

Marc Marquez, Gresini Racing

Marc Marquez, Gresini Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Ducati’s Enea Bastianini set the reference lap at the start of the 15-minute Q2 at 1m40.335s, though the lap record had already been bested in the preceding Q1 session by Fabio Di Giannantonio with the 1m38.208s that knocked Marquez out.

On his first flying lap, Martin put in a 1m38.401s to go 0.374s clear of the field, before Pedro Acosta bettered this with a 1m38.369s on his Tech3 GasGas.

Seconds later, Bagnaia put in a 1m38.221s with around nine minutes remaining to assume control of the session.

After a brief lull on track as the riders took on fresh rubber, Bagnaia’s pole was given a degree of comfort when Martin crashed at Turn 2 with just over two minutes to go.

The Pramac rider lost the front as he changed direction into the Turn 2 right-hander, while team-mate Franco Morbidelli slid off behind him – albeit later into the corner.

Bagnaia was unable to improve on his second run laps, while Espargaro leaped up to second on his penultimate tour before setting the best first sector of the session on his final lap.

Espargaro kept his sector split times up and came through to post a 1m39.190s to beat Bagnaia and Binder, who crashed twice on Friday.

However, Fernandez – who came through Q1 – had a lap good enough for third reinstated after it was initially cancelled for being set under yellow flags, giving both rider and Trackhouse Racing its first front row in MotoGP.

Binder now heads row two in fourth from Acosta and Q1 pacesetter Di Giannantonio (VR46 Ducati), while Jorge Martin is seventh.

Martin will start ahead of Yamaha’s Alex Rins and KTM’s Jack Miller.

The top 12 was completed by Morbidelli, Bastianini and the second factory team Aprilia of Maverick Vinales.

Alex Marquez put in a lap at the end of Q1 that put him ahead of his brother and Gresini team-mate Marc Marquez in 13th.

Fabio Quartararo struggled to 17th on his Yamaha, with Johann Zarco top Honda on his LCR-run bike despite a crash at the end of Q1.

Q2 results:

Q1 results:

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