MotoGP: Aleix Espargaro secures pole in Catalunya

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Spanish driver Aleix Espargaro claimed Suzuki’s first MotoGP pole position since 2007 in qualifying for the Catalunya Grand Prix on Saturday by setting a new lap record at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

Espargaro posted a fastest time of 1:40.546 to edge out teammate Maverick Vinales by just 0.083 seconds at the end of Q2 as the Japanese manufacturer got both of its bikes onto the front row of the grid.

This result marked Espargaro’s second pole position in MotoGP following his success at Assen last year, but the Spaniard will now be looking to convert it into his maiden victory in the championship.

Championship contender Jorge Lorenzo completed the front row of the grid for Yamaha, finishing one-tenth of a second behind Espargaro at the front of the grid but as the leading rider not using the soft tires.

“We made a great job during the two days of practice to save the tires for qualifying so we had three instead of two,” Lorenzo said. “This let us have another chance to be faster.

“But in turn three I went wide and I went on the bumps, losing three tenths. I could have done a 1:40.5. To be the first place with the normal tires is a great feeling as the Hondas are very fast over one lap.”

Defending world champion Marc Marquez will start the race from fourth as the leading Honda rider ahead of teammate Dani Pedrosa in sixth. Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso split the duo in P5.

Nine-time world champion and current series leader Valentino Rossi had to settle for seventh at the end of the session. The Italian rider will be keen to stop Yamaha teammate Lorenzo’s streak of three straight wins this weekend so as to retain his lead, but will face a tough challenge from so far back on the grid.

To see the complete grid for tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Catalunya, click here.