Fabio Quartararo. (Photo by Mirco Lazzari/Getty Images)
JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA (Spain): Frenchman Fabio Quartararo powered to pole position for the season-opening Spanish Grand Prix on Saturday, setting a Jerez lap record time to edge out Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales.
The 21-year-old Quartararo, who rides for the Yamaha satellite outfit, posted a time of one minute and 36.705 seconds to claim his seventh MotoGP pole in only his second top-class campaign.
He will be bidding for his maiden victory on Sunday, having ended his rookie season in 2019 with four runner-up finishes in the last seven races.
“I didn’t feel like it was a perfect lap because I made a mistake,” said Quartararo.
“I saw that someone had fallen on the 11th turn so I was a little careful.”
Vinales settled for second place on the grid, 0.139sec slower than Quartararo, who will replace Italian veteran Valentino Rossi at the Yamaha factory team next year.
The 41-year-old Rossi struggled and could only qualify in 11th place, 1.036sec slower than Quartararo.
Reigning world champion Marc Marquez will complete the front row for Honda as he starts his tilt at a seventh MotoGP title.
Marquez’s younger brother Alex, making his MotoGP debut as his sibling’s Honda teammate, failed to even make it into the second qualifying session.
The 2019 Moto2 champion will start from 21st on the grid.
This year’s MotoGP world championship finally gets underway on Sunday, behind closed doors and more than four months late due to the coronavirus pandemic.