Team Ducati Corse’s Jorge Lorenzo has secured his first pole position since Valencia 2016 at the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya in a spectacular Q2 session, relegating Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez to 2nd and Andrea Dovizioso grabbing his first front row start of the season in 3rd.

Under blistering Barcelona skies, it was all about the battle of the Spaniards for pole position on home soil. Lorenzo was the first man to set a time, before Marquez crossed the line to set the fastest lap of the weekend – a magnificent 1:38.886, with Movistar Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi firing in a 1:39.392 to put himself between the two after the first set of hot laps.

It was bubbling up beautifully in Barcelona ahead of the second runs to say the least, with Lorenzo coming out of the box to launch himself to the top of the timesheets, a slender 0.066 the difference between him and future teammate Marquez.

The #93 was on the ragged edge, and he was right on the pace of his compatriot before hitting traffic at Turn 13 – handing Lorenzo his first Ducati pole and his tenth straight front row start at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

Dovizioso threatened to take pole on his final run, the Italian was up by a whisker in the first half of the lap before losing time in Sector 3. Nonetheless, the #04 launches from P3 and looks confident ahead of Sunday.

Rossi’s teammate Maverick Viñales was the man who ‘DesmoDovi’ was shadowing on his final run, the Spaniard will start fourth and top Yamaha at his home Grand Prix, a huge improvement from his P9 start this time last year.

FP4’s quickest man Andrea Iannone of Team Suzuki Ecstar, was just 0.003 behind Viñales’ time, the Italian starting from the second row for a third consecutive race as he puts himself in a strong position to once again challenge for a podium.

Alma Pramac Racing’s Danilo Petrucci was able to get himself onto the outside of row two, a good session for the Ducati rider, who starts P6.

Rossi, who was second after the first runs, pulled out of a potential front row lap at Turn 10 after a message from the Yamaha box told him a certain #93 was following him. ‘The Doctor’ will start 7th for Sunday’s race, ahead of Johann Zarco, with the Frenchman having to take avoiding action down into Turn 1 when tucked behind Marquez – P8 for Zarco after a difficult weekend.

Rounding out the third row was Tito Rabat of Reale Avintia Racing after he was able to earn an automatic Q2 spot, the Spaniard securing his best dry qualifying result of the season in P9.

Behind Rabat on the grid is LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow, who had a disappointing end to the session, crashing at the newly modified Turn 13 while on a personal best lap – the British rider will start tenth.

Dani Pedrosa’s quiet weekend continued in qualifying, the Spaniard will line up in 11th for his home race, with Q1 graduate Takaaki Nakagami of LCR Honda Idemitsu having a fantastic afternoon in Barcelona, setting a lap time less than two tenths slower than Pedrosa to start a personal best P12.

So, is it Lorenzo vs Marquez for the victory on home soil? The hammer has been well and truly slammed down by the number 99, but the shockwaves didn’t seem to faze the number 93 too much on Saturday. However, will Lorenzo’s race pace prove too much come Sunday afternoon?

L-R: Marquez, Lorenzo and Dovizioso

Posted by Philip Chong

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