Americas MotoGP: Bagnaia beats Quartararo for third straight pole

Ducati’s Francesco Bagnaia scored his third-successive MotoGP pole after beating championship leader Fabio Quartararo to end Marc Marquez’s qualifying stranglehold at the Grand Prix of the Americas.

Bagnaia scored pole in the Aragon and San Marino GPs, after which he converted to victories, and will be aiming for a hat-trick of wins after blitzing the field by 0.348 seconds in qualifying at the Circuit of the Americas.

Pramac rookie Jorge Martin got his hooks into the back of COTA pole king Marc Marquez and set the initial pace on his Ducati at the start of Q2 with a 2m03.278s. This put him 0.330 seconds clear of Marquez, though the Honda rider retaliated on his following flying lap to take over provisional pole with a 2m03.209s.

After the first run, just 0.090s covered the front row of Marquez, Martin and the LCR Honda of Takaaki Nakagami. Marquez’s lap would remain the benchmark until the final 30s of the session, when Bagnaia smashed his opposition with a 2m02.781s lap.

Title rival Quartararo put this under pressure through the first sector of his final lap, but couldn’t hook it together and remained second on his factory Yamaha courtesy of his previous 2m03.129s to secure his 14th front row start of 2021.

Marquez has been on pole at COTA every year since it came onto the calendar in 2013, but ended his streak after qualifying third for Sunday’s race. However, it marks his first front row since the 2020 Spanish GP.

Martin will head the second row ahead of Nakagami and Zarco, while Alex Rins leads Suzuki team-mate Joan Mir in seventh.

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Alex Rins, Team Suzuki MotoGP

Alex Rins, Team Suzuki MotoGP

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Mir had to come through Q1 and was only left with one bike to complete qualifying with after he suffered an engine failure at the start of the preceding FP4 session. The Suzuki rider followed Avintia rookie Luca Marini through Q1, the Italian putting his two-year-old Ducati ninth on the grid ahead of a furious Jack Miller.

The Ducati rider annihilated the field in FP3 but could only manage 10th ahead of KTM’s Brad Binder and the sister factory Honda of Pol Espargaro.

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Yamaha’s Franco Morbidelli will line up 13th for his second outing in factory colours, while his Petronas SRT replacement Andrea Dovizioso mounted a strong charge for 14th at the end of Q1.

He heads LCR Honda’s Alex Marquez and Avintia rookie Enea Bastianini, with Tech3’s Iker Lecuona shadowing him in 17th.

Early crashes in Q1 proved costly for KTM’s Miguel Oliveira and Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro – who registered his fourth tumble of a difficult Austin weekend.

Both riders were left stranded in 18th and 19th as a result, with Valentino Rossi also unable to improve on 20th after sliding off his SRT M1 at Turn 6 at the end of the Q1 session.

Danilo Petrucci completed the shortened 21-rider field on his Tech3 KTM, with Aprilia’s Maverick Vinales a non-starter this weekend following the tragic death of his 15-year-old cousin Dean Berta Vinales in a World Superport 300 accident at Jerez last week.

Cla Rider Bike Time Gap km/h
1 Italy Francesco Bagnaia Ducati 2'02.781   161.643
2 France Fabio Quartararo Yamaha 2'03.129 0.348 161.187
3 Spain Marc Marquez Honda 2'03.209 0.428 161.082
4 Spain Jorge Martin Ducati 2'03.278 0.497 160.992
5 Japan Takaaki Nakagami Honda 2'03.292 0.511 160.973
6 France Johann Zarco Ducati 2'03.379 0.598 160.860
7 Spain Alex Rins Suzuki 2'03.453 0.672 160.764
8 Spain Joan Mir Suzuki 2'03.528 0.747 160.666
9 Italy Luca Marini Ducati 2'03.546 0.765 160.642
10 Australia Jack Miller Ducati 2'03.720 0.939 160.417
11 South Africa Brad Binder KTM 2'03.781 1.000 160.338
12 Spain Pol Espargaro Honda 2'03.875 1.094 160.216
13 Italy Franco Morbidelli Yamaha 2'03.872 1.091 160.220
14 Italy Andrea Dovizioso Yamaha 2'04.044 1.263 159.998
15 Spain Alex Marquez Honda 2'04.100 1.319 159.925
16 Italy Enea Bastianini Ducati 2'04.118 1.337 159.902
17 Spain Iker Lecuona KTM 2'04.324 1.543 159.637
18 Portugal Miguel Oliveira KTM 2'04.392 1.611 159.550
19 Spain Aleix Espargaro Aprilia 2'04.419 1.638 159.515
20 Italy Valentino Rossi Yamaha 2'04.699 1.918 159.157
21 Italy Danilo Petrucci KTM 2'04.829 2.048 158.991
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