Alex Marquez outpaced his Estrella Galicia teammate Alex Rins to claim the first pole position of his Grand Prix career in Barcelona. The Spaniards dominated the session for the most part but a sensational late flyer swung the battle Marquez’s way while Rins ended his afternoon in great discomfort.
The 40 minute session almost got off to the worst possible start when Bryan Schouten had a bizarre crash, falling from his CIP Mahindra halfway down the start/finish straight. Mercifully, the Dutch rider wasn’t struck by any of the following riders, nor was his motorcycle, and the session was able to continue without delay once the machine had been retrieved.
A 1:51.649 in the early stages sent Rins to the top of the timesheets and the Spaniard looked to have an answer for anything his challengers could throw at him, bouncing straight back to the top when Jack Miller and Alex Marquez had momentarily usurped him. With five minutes to go though, Marquez raised the bar completely.
Rins had just improved himself seconds earlier to break into the 1:50s but Marquez chopped a full six tenths off his teammate’s best effort, throwing down the gauntlet to his compatriot. Rins’ response went completely wrong though with the Estrella Galicia Honda highsiding as he rounded turn four, catapulting him from the motorcycle, and instead of walking into parc ferme to celebrate a front row start, Rins was stretchered away.
His mood wouldn’t have been helped by Enea Bastianini who snatched second two minutes from time, the Italian rookie qualifying on the front row for the first time. Brad Binder backed up his impressive practice form with fourth on the improving Mahindra ahead of Niklas Ajo and Isaac Vinales with Miguel Oliveira seventh on the first factory Mahindra.
Efren Vazquez had a frustrating afternoon, not getting out to complete a timed lap until the final quarter of an hour, but recovered to salvage eighth while championship leader Jack Miller fell back to ninth. The Australian could at least take consolation from the struggles of title rival Romano Fenati who will start tomorrow’s race from sixteenth.