Maverick Viñales will start Sunday’s MotoGP race at Motorland Aragon from pole position after topping qualifying for Yamaha as teammate Valentino Rossi made a stunning return from injury.
Having broken his leg during a training accident at the end of last month, Rossi was cleared to race this weekend by MotoGP’s medical officials on Thursday, with the nine-time world champion gingerly returning to action in practice.
Rossi battled through to Q2 by finishing final practice 10th-quickest, before then producing a rapid final lap in the session to secure third place on the grid for Sunday’s race.
Teammate Viñales bagged his fifth pole of the season with a best lap of 1:47.635, lapping one-tenth of a second quicker than Ducati’s Jorge Lorenzo. Rossi was a further 0.08 seconds behind in P3.
Cal Crutchlow took fourth for LCR Honda ahead of Marc Marquez, who fell ahead of his final run and was unable to improve his initial lap time in Q2.
Marquez’s chief title rival Andrea Dovizioso will start seventh behind Dani Pedrosa, while Aleix Espargaro, Alvaro Bautista and Andrea Iannone completed the top 10 in qualifying.