Takaaki Nakagami has taken his maiden MotoGP pole position after setting the first sub 47s lap of the two visits to Aragon and becomes the first Japanese rider to take pole position since 2004.
The first qualifying session spelt Disaster for Ducati, with only Johann Zarco making it through for the Bologna manufacturer after their strategy to get Andrea Dovizioso into Q2 failed, costing early pacesetter Jack Miller a Q2 spot as well.
The track temperature was perfect for the opening MotoGP qualifying session, sitting at a comfortable 31 degrees. Out of the blocks, it was Brad Binder and KTM who set the early pace but the South African made a mistake on his second flying lap, dropping outside of the top five.
As the times came in, it was Jack Miller who led Pol Espargaro by fourth tenths of a second and attention for the Ducati squad turned to the championship contender Dovizioso who was languishing in fourth. The plan for Ducati was simple, stick Dovi to the rear of Miller’s bike to claim a Q2 spot, however, a mistake from Miller on his first lap followed by a slow second lap cost both him and Dovizioso massively, with the pair ending the session in fourth and seventh, meaning a fourteenth and seventeenth place grid spot for two former championship contenders.
As Ducati was squabbling for track position, Pol Espargaro leapt to the top of the timesheets, beating Fabio Quartararo’s pole time of last weekend by five thousands of a second.
Fast laps came in from everyone; Aleix Espargaro jumped to second ahead of Bradl, but a late charge from an old Ducati in Johann Zarco put a Ducati into Q2, joining the KTM of Espargaro.
Full Q1 results here
Q2 got underway with Alex Rins setting the early pace, but it was a charge of the KTMs before Takaaki Nakagami toppled them all. However, the pace was slow, over a second slower than the Q1 top time as riders worked their way into it.
Maverick Viñales winded the M1’s horses onto the front straight to become the first rider in the 47’s, albeit a 47.9s. Rins was next across the line, reclaiming his top time by 0.3s.
The first proper time came from Nakagami, matching Pol Espargaro’s Q1 time, putting him two tenths clear of Johann Zarco.
Franco Morbidelli’s first timed lap was nothing special, however, he cut the gap to Nakagami to 0.1s as Rins repositioned himself on the middle of the second row.
As the opening run came to a close, Nakagami was on top of the pile with Morbidelli and Zarco on the provisional front row. Quartararo lay fourth fastest with Rins and Crutchlow on the second row. However, that would all change as the sound of MotoGP bikes roared back into life for the final five minutes.
The first lap of the second run was nothing to shout about, with grey sectors lighting up the timing screen.
Maverick Viñales jumped to fourth, while Nakagami stormed to the first 1:46s lap of the two weekends. However, Quartararo was on a fast lap.
Joan Mir crossed the line, but couldn’t improve from his 12th position. To add to the injury of some of the 2020 title contenders, Johann Zarco crashed out at the final corner, bringing out a yellow flag – cancelling a handful of laps.
Takaaki Nakagami has taken Honda’s first pole position since Marc Marquez in Motegi ahead of Franco Morbidelli and Alex Rins, while Maverick Viñales heads row two with Zarco and Quartararo.
The final two rows from Q2 took a while to sort out, with laps being cancelled late after the session concluded. Pol Espargaro heads row three with Cal Crutchlow and Iker Lecuona, while the final row of Q2 filled by Miguel Olivera, Marquez, and Joan Mir.
The MotoGP race will get underway at an earlier time of 13:00 local time and crucially before the Moto2 race.
Featured image: MotoGP.com