Alex Rins backed up his strong practice form with a stunning qualifying performance at Aragon, claiming pole position by a sizable margin. The Estrella Galicia rider obliterated the lap record to finish seven tenths clear of Maverick Vinales and Alex Marquez and with championship leader Luis Salom back on row three, the top two on the grid have an opportunity to close the gap tomorrow.
Saturday morning practice provided little by way of representative running after overnight rain left the circuit damp in places but Rins wasted no time at the start of qualifying. With conditions much more favourable, the Spaniard clocked a 1:59.796 on just his second flying lap to go quicker than his own benchmark yesterday.
In contrast, Vinales was encountering problems and after setting the second fastest time early on, the Team Calvo rider dived straight back into the pits for lengthy set-up changes, effectively robbing him of half the session. In the time it took Maverick’s KTM to be readied, Rins had moved on to a 1:59.281 with Vinales demoted down the order but the no.25 regained second with a 2:00.155 on his return.
With three minutes to go, Vinales finally put Rins’ pole position under threat by closing to within three hundredths of a second but within moments of doing that, his compatriot struck the decisive blow. Rins’ next flying lap was an astonishing seven tenths quicker than his own provisional pole time, giving him an advantage that nobody could challenge. Vinales did manage a slightly faster lap in the dying seconds but that only served to keep the second Estrella Galicia KTM of Marquez behind him.
Notwithstanding the stunning pace of Rins, the performance of the day surely came from Philipp Oettl who qualified a career-best fourth with Efren Vazquez taking fifth ahead of an injury-stricken Jonas Folger. Miguel Oliveira starts seventh on the second Mahindra ahead of an off-colour Luis Salom with Arthur Sissis and Jakub Kornfeil completing the top ten.