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Crutchlow, Pedrosa and Zarco on the front row | MOTOGP | SPORT

Cal Crutchlow snatched the booty in the heart of his Spanish rivals’ homeland, taking his first pole position since 2016 for tomorrow’s Spanish GP at Jerez.

Already on top, the British winner of the Argentine GP stopped for a second set of fresh tyres and blazed to a new circuit best lap.

Crutchlow, Spanish MotoGP 2018

In blazing heat on the resurfaced circuit, the LCR Honda rider had an advantage of a quarter of a second over the next-best Honda, Dani Pedrosa’s factory Repsol machine.

Then some surprises, as Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha) pushed race favourite Marc Marquez off the Repsol Honda rider’s front row position, and then Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati – the only other rider to stop twice in the 15 minutes) consigned him to fifth.

Pedrosa, Spanish MotoGP 2018

Set to get back, Marquez ran wide at the Dry Sack hairpin on his final run, and was condemned to start from the middle of the second row.

Marquez, Spanish MotoGP 2018

In hot but otherwise near-perfect conditions at a popular track, times were close, and all 12 riders in Q2 easily within one second. Margins were small, but positions important; with the Movistar Yamaha riders struggling with persistent wheelspin in the heat, and again falling far short of third-placed Zarco’s independent bike. Valentino Rossi was tenth, and Maverick Vinales 11th, with Jack Miller Alma Pramac Ducati in 12th.

Ahead of them, Alex Rins completed row two in sixth. His Ecstar Suzuki team-mate Andrea Iannone, fastest in FP4, led row three in seventh, from Andrea Dovizioso’s factory Ducati and Danilo Petrucci’s Alma Pramac Ducati.

Crutchlow praised the work of his team. “They’ve worked well all weekend, and the bike feels good,” he said.

Pedrosa, winner here last year, had some reservations about his condition, after breaking his right wrist at round two in Argentina. “I still have some pain and a lack of power,” he said.

Dovizioso and Vinales had both come through from Q1, where 13th qualifier Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) missed the chance of deposing the latter by 0.040 of a second.

Only Crutchlow and Lorenzo ran a two-stop strategy – the short lap time here (less than 1m40s) offering this rare opportunity. Jack Miller was one who might have benefitted, after his second tyre didn’t perform as he’d hoped, but having used two soft rears in the morning to be sure of getting into Q2, “we didn’t have enough tyres”.

Miller, Spanish MotoGP 2018


Lorenzo Baldassarri’s morning started with a new best-ever Moto2 lap of Jerez. He couldn’t equal that record speed in the heat of the afternoon, but was close enough to take a career-first pole on the HP40 Kalex.

Times were whisker-close in the middle class … the top twenty covered by 0.971 of a second.

This meant that a bad result for Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM), in 14th, was only six tenths away from pole. He crashed on his last run, one of seven victims of the slippery surface, giving no chance of improvement.

Last year’s Jerez winner Alex Marquez (EG-VDS Kalex) made a convincing but unsuccessful late bid to snatch pole, ending up second, seven hundredths down and a similar distance ahead of less than a tenth ahead of title leader Pecco Bagnaia (SKY VR46 Kalex), completing the front row.


Jorge Navarro (Federal Oil Kalex) headed row two from Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM) and class rookie Joan Mir (EG-VDS Kalex), the reigning Moto3 champion continuing his strong debut.

Xavi Vierge (Dynavolt Kalex) led row three from SII KTM rider Sam Lowes and another class rookie Romano Fenati (Marinelli Kalex); with Argentine GP winner Mattia Pasini (Kalex) completing the top ten.

Jorge Martin took his 11th Moto3 pole, the second in a row, on his 11th lap of a sun-baked qualifying session. The Del Conca Gresini Honda rider, currently leading the championship, displaced erstwhile leader Philipp Oettl (Sudmetal KTM) by less than two tenths; with his Gresini team-mate Fabio Di Giannantonio slotting into third.

There was a mixed second row, with SIC58 Honda’s Nico Antonelli heading the KTMs of Argentine GP winner Marco Bezzecchi and Andrea Migno; then an all-Honda row three, with Alonso Lopez heading Enea Bastianini and Lorenzo Dalla Porta.

Red Bull KTM’s Darryn Binder is a doubtful starter, after a heavy crash on only his third timed lap. Apart from being stretchered away for medical checks, his lap time is outside the required 107 percent of pole, so he is unqualified.

Crowds, Spanish MotoGP 2018

by Michael Scott