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.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10-3 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 7 p.m. to USA Network. Peacock will have flag-to-flag coverage.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III