25-year-old Aleix Espargaro, who was signed to Suzuki following their return to MotoGP this year, got the team their first pole position in 8 years following Qualifying at the Catalan Grand Prix this Saturday, the 13th of June.
Suzuki’s luck did not stop there – the team had a 1-2 prior to race day, with Espargaro’s teammate, 20-year-old Maverick Viñales of Spain in second.
Viñales is a rookie to MotoGP, having made his debut at the class of racing only this year. Both Espargaro and Viñales were on soft rear tyres, and used them to full advantage to clock times of 1m 40.546s and 1m 40.629s respectively.
Espargaro and Viñales were followed by Jorge Lorenzo of Movistar Yamaha MotoGP in 3rd. Lorenzo has been on a roll this season, having won three races on the trot. Following victory at the Grand Prix at Jerez and Le Mans, Lorenzo scored a win at Mugello, beating home star Andrea Iannone, who won his first career pole at the race and was expected to win. Lorenzo, who secured that win following a second-place start, described himself as being “in the form of my life”, and this has rung true for the 28-year-old, who will begin in third this race.
He is only 6 points behind his teammate, MotoGP icon, the Doctor, Valentino Rossi in the drivers’ standings. Rossi himself will begin the race in 7th. However, the Doctor began the Grand Prix at Mugello in 8th, only to finish on the podium as he has done every single race so far this season. He currently leads the standings at 118 points – Lorenzo has 112.
Reigning double World Champion Marc Marquez, who has been going through something of a low spell lately, will begin in 4th. Although Marquez has had one win this season, at the MotoGP of the Americas in Austin, Texas, he has also retired from two races – at Argentina and Mugello, following crashes. He is also recovering from an injury causing him chronic pain, as he suffered a fracture to his finger whilst riding independently with a friend at Jerez. He underwent surgery prior to the Grand Prix there, finishing that race strongly – in 2nd.
Marquez is currently 5th in the drivers’ standings, but is nearly 50 points behind leader Valentino Rossi and 12 behind his nearest competitor Andrea Iannone of Ducati, in 4th with 81 points. Iannone, also recovering from a funny bone fracture, is also on a high after having secured his career-first pole at the last MotoGP. He did not do as well this race, however, and will start in 12th, just making first qualifying.
Espargaro’s younger brother Pol also made Q1, finishing just ahead of Iannone in 11th.
Home riders excelled at qualifying in Catalunya, with all top 4 spots going to Spanish riders. Six of the top 12 racers in Q1 were riding a home race.