Johann Zarco takes pole as Bagnaia suffers a big crash in Portimao

Johann Zarco takes pole as Bagnaia suffers a big crash in Portimao

Pramac Ducati’s Johann Zarco won his seventh MotoGP pole in an exciting finish to qualifying for the Portuguese Grand Prix at a drier Portimao.

Following an initial assessment in the medical centre, Ducati’s primary pre-season championship hope Francesco Bagnaia ended up at the opposite end of the provisional grid after a horrific crash, and has gone to hospital for precautionary checks.

The entire Q2 pole shoot-out was run on slick tyres – the first time this has happened all weekend – but the track was improving throughout, and Zarco timed his final run to perfection to clinch pole with a 1m42.003s.

This allowed him to deny Suzuki’s Joan Mir a first-ever pole, but Mir’s second-place finish was still good enough for the 2020 champion to set a new best-ever MotoGP qualifying time.

Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro rounded up the first row, while Ducati’s Jack Miller was relegated to fourth place despite setting the fastest time at the finish.

Miller could have finished much lower, but yellow flags for an accident involving Marquez’s Honda teammate Pol Espargaro wiped out a pair of top four-worthy runs from Marc Marquez – who had crashed badly in FP3 – and Fabio Quartararo.

Quartararo, the defending champion, will start fifth after being Yamaha’s solitary representative in Q2, while VR46 Ducati rookie Marco Bezzecchi will complete the second row.

Alex Marquez (LCR Honda) and Luca Marini (VR46 Ducati) were two riders who advanced from Q1, and the former used his extra track knowledge to his advantage early in Q2 to spend a good chunk of time in provisional pole – but they eventually finished seventh and eighth, with the younger Marquez also crashing on the cooldown lap.

The two pieces are related. Marquez and Espargaro’s Hondas rounded out the top ten, followed by Miguel Oliveira and Brad Binder’s works KTMs.

Bagnaia’s early bet on slicks in Q1 resulted in a nasty accident at Turn 3. The Italian was quickly back on his feet, but he felt shoulder pain and needed to be taken to the circuit’s medical centre by ambulance. Although no fractures were discovered, Bagnaia went to a local hospital for a more thorough check.

Bagnaia’s crash followed soon after that of fellow slick-tyre gambler Remy Gardner (Tech3 KTM), but by the end of the first phase, the slicks were the tyres to have, with Marquez and Marini exploiting them to advance.

Jorge Martin (Pramac Ducati) was on his way to overtaking Marini when his lap went astray in the final sector, relegating him to 13th – ahead of Aprilia’s Maverick Vinales, who was the fastest of the wet-weather riders.

Enea Bastianini (Gresini) had a chance to make Q2 on slicks late in the race, but he crashed and will start 18th, five places ahead of his closest championship challenger Alex Rins (Suzuki), who stayed on wets and finished six seconds off the pace.

Gardner recovered from his early fall and finished ahead of Tech3 teammate Raul Fernandez, who tumbled as well but at the conclusion of the session.


1Johann ZarcoFRAPramac Ducati (GP22)1’42.003s9/9341k
2Joan MirSPASuzuki Ecstar (GSX-RR)+0.195s9/9331k
3Aleix EspargaroSPAAprilia Racing (RS-GP)+0.232s9/9334k
4Jack MillerAUSDucati Lenovo (GP22)+0.500s7/8339k
5Fabio QuartararoFRAMonster Yamaha (YZR-M1)+0.713s7/8333k
6Marco BezzecchiITAMooney VR46 Ducati (GP21)*+0.713s9/9335k
7Alex MarquezSPALCR Honda (RC213V)+0.900s9/9336k
8Luca MariniITAMooney VR46 Ducati (GP22)+1.176s9/9331k
9Marc MarquezSPARepsol Honda (RC213V)+1.572s6/8331k
10Pol EspargaroSPARepsol Honda (RC213V)+1.829s7/7333k
11Miguel OliveiraPORRed Bull KTM (RC16)+2.063s7/8333k
12Brad BinderRSARed Bull KTM (RC16)+2.707s5/8335k
 Qualifying 1:     
13Jorge MartinSPAPramac Ducati (GP22)1’47.936s8/8328k
14Maverick ViñalesSPAAprilia Racing (RS-GP)1’49.332s5/5326k
15Fabio Di GiannantonioITAGresini Ducati (GP21)*1’49.639s6/6320k
16Andrea DoviziosoITAWithU Yamaha RNF (YZR-M1)1’49.695s6/7319k
17Takaaki NakagamiJPNLCR Honda (RC213V)1’49.889s7/7320k
18Enea BastianiniITAGresini Ducati (GP21)1’50.618s2/6329k
19Franco MorbidelliITAMonster Yamaha (YZR-M1)1’50.702s7/7316k
20Remy GardnerAUSKTM Tech3 (RC16)*1’50.953s3/4313k
21Lorenzo SavadoriITAAprilia Racing (RS-GP)1’51.308s3/6326k
22Darryn BinderRSAWithU Yamaha RNF (YZR-M1)*1’51.639s7/8317k
23Alex RinsSPASuzuki Ecstar (GSX-RR)1’52.3s3/7321k
24Raul FernandezSPAKTM Tech3 (RC16)*1’53.603s6/6320k
25Francesco BagnaiaITADucati Lenovo (GP22)No Time0/0

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