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With the track revised, reverting to the F1 chicane used last year, nothing much else changed for qualifying at the Montmelo circuit. It remained bumpy and slippery, for an afternoon of many crashes

The biggest contributor to the crash list was Marc Marquez, who fell off four times, two of them in the qualifying session. By then his other bike was already damaged, but he managed to get back out on his scraped up second bike and improve his time, although narrowly missing the front row.

But the slippy conditions suited the Hondas, and his Repsol team-mate Dani Pedrosa claimed a second pole of the season by better than three tenths, although he too had fallen in the morning. “It’s important,” he said. “Last year I struggled in qualifying; this year I have got two poles.” The last one was at Jerez, where he went on to win.

Crutchlow after crash, Catalunya MotoGP 2017

It was a reversal of fortunes from Mugello, where the Yamahas had been strong and the Hondas in trouble. On the hot Catalunyan surface, though, the Yamahas couldn’t generate the corner speed that is their strong suit, and there was not one Yamaha in the free practice top ten to go straight into Q2.

Ducati’s strengthening hand played well at both tracks, however.

Lorenzo, Catalunya MotoGP 2017

Jorge Lorenzo was fastest until the closing minutes of Q2, and stayed in third; Danilo Petrucci’s satellite-team Ducati joined him on the front row. “We made a radical change to the bike after the morning,” said Lorenzo. I felt much better in the afternoon. It looks like Yamaha and Honda have trouble with the front grip. We are missing a little on the rear. But I think we are coming.”

Marquez led row two from Aleix Espargaro’s Aprilia – he had been strong throughout; and Hector Barbera’s Avintia Ducati. Mugello winner Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) led the third from the top Yamaha – Jonas Folger’s 2016 Monster satellite-team bike, and Movistar Yamaha factory rider Maverick Vinales, both through from Q1.

Marquez, Catalunya MotoGP 2017

All of Michelin’s tyres were dual-compound, front and rear, giving a rather bewildering set of options, and all riders mulling over the choice for tomorrow’s race. Tests here after the French GP indicated a bit drop-off in lap times as tyres wore.

The Yamaha riders didn’t seem to have to wait until they were worn. Vinales was struggling for stability and grip all through, saying that not even the base setting worked. Rossi was also battling, and although narrowly third-fastest in Q1 (led by Folger), it was enough to condemn him to 13th, and the fourth row of the grid.

Ahead of him were Alvaro Bautista (Aspar Ducati), who also fell three times, Scott Redding (Pramac Ducati) and Andrea Iannone (Ecstar Suzuki), another to fall.

Jack Miller (EG-VDS Honda) was 15th, saying: “I feel better on the bike than at Mugello, and I’m getting to grips with the new front tyre – but I missed the test here a couple of weeks ago.” He was recuperating from hand injuries sustained at Le Mans.

Miller, Catalunya MotoGP 2017

Younger brother Alex Marquez claimed his second pole of the season early in the Moto2 session, later managing almost to match his lap time to prove it hadn’t been a fluke.

Mugello winner Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Kalex) came within a tenth of the EG-VDS Kalex rider’s time at the last gasp, but no-one else was close.

Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Kalex) was third; while title-points runner-up Tom Luthi was in the middle of an all-Kalex second row, between fourth-fastest Taka Nakagami and points leader Franco Morbidelli.

Remy Gardner’s Tech 3 was 26th, some 1.8 seconds off pole.

Remy Gardner, Italian MotoGP 2017

Jorge Martin (Gresini Honda) played a perfect tactical waiting game in Moto3 qualifying. As the session drew to a close, the track was empty, all riders waiting for the first to go out so they could follow, as the crowd booed from the grandstands.

Eventually they had to go, but Martin still waited. Then when he could be sure of an empty track, he reeled off an absolute flyer, better than six tenths faster than the second-placed Aron Canet (EG Honda). Juanfran Guevara (RBA KTM) was third; then two more Hondas led the second row, Romano Fenati (Rivacold Honda) ahead of series leader Joan Mir (Leopard Honda).