Portuguese MotoGP: Quartararo on pole as Bagnaia lap deleted

Francesco Bagnaia had a record-smashing pole lap cancelled for a yellow flag infringement in a dramatic MotoGP Portuguese Grand Prix qualifying, with Fabio Quartararo promoted to pole.

The Ducati rider blasted the old Algarve lap record with a 1m38.494s on his final lap, but a crash for 2020 Portugal poleman Miguel Oliveira brought out the yellow flags and cost Bagnaia his lap.

Aprilia's Aleix Espargaro set the early benchmark at a solid 1m39.452s, but this was blasted by Quartararo, who fired in a weekend-best of 1m39.028s.

The FP4 pacesetter was on course to better this on his second lap, but a snap on the front-end of his Yamaha under braking for Turn 8 forced him to abort.

At the same time, Pramac's Johann Zarco was putting some serious pressure on Quartararo's lap, but he crashed at the Turn 11 Portimao corner.

This wound up affecting both Bagnaia on the Ducati and Quartararo's teammate Maverick Vinales, who had their fastest laps at that point cancelled.

This dropped Bagnaia from second to 11th and Vinales from fifth to seventh, with Petronas SRT's Franco Morbidelli promoted to second courtesy of the former's lap cancellation.

Quartararo bettered his earlier effort on the first lap of his second run with a 1m38.862s, before Bagnaia put this under immense pressure.

Bagnaia blitzed the field by over four tenths with his final effort, only for it to be scrubbed and drop him down to 11th as Quartararo was promoted to his 11th career MotoGP pole.

Suzuki's Alex Rins leaped up to third from ninth late on, with Bagnaia's lap cancellation promoting Rins to second.

Championship leader Zarco's earlier crash didn't dent his confidence much as he salvaged a front row start with a 1m39.991s putting him third ahead of Jack Miller and Morbidelli.

Returning six-time MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez was fastest in Q1 and will start his first race in nine months from the back of the second row in sixth, while Aleix Espargaro heads row three on the Aprilia.

Luca Marini scored his best MotoGP qualifying result in eighth on his Avintia Ducati, with world champion Joan Mir – who followed Marquez through Q1 – only ninth on the second Suzuki.

Oliveira was left in 10th after his late crash, with Bagnaia heading Yamaha's Vinales – who had two fast laps at the end cancelled – to complete the top 12.

Alex Marquez was the sole LCR representative in qualifying after teammate Takaaki Nakagami elected to sit out the session as he battles a shoulder injury from his scary FP2 crash.

The younger Marquez brother couldn't challenge for a Q2 place and ended up 0.228s away in 13th, with Pol Espargaro 0.066s further adrift in 14th.

The factory Honda rider's preparations for Q1 were somewhat disrupted by a heavy high-side at the final corner in FP4, but walked away from that spill largely unscathed.

Brad Binder will start 15th on the KTM ahead of Avintia rookie Enea Bastianini, while Valentino Rossi's woes continue in 2021 as he could only manage 17th on his SRT Yamaha.

Danilo Petrucci headed Tech3 teammate Iker Lecuona in 18th, while Lorenzo Savadori on the Aprilia was last of the runners in Q1 in 20th.

Nakagami's participation in Sunday's race looks in doubt, while Pramac rookie Jorge Martin has been ruled out following his violent crash in FP3 which has put him in hospital.

Cla Rider Bike Time Gap
1 France Fabio Quartararo
Yamaha 1'38.862
2 Spain Alex Rins
Suzuki 1'38.951 0.089
3 France Johann Zarco
Ducati 1'38.991 0.129
4 Australia Jack Miller
Ducati 1'39.061 0.199
5 Italy Franco Morbidelli
Yamaha 1'39.103 0.241
6 Spain Marc Marquez
Honda 1'39.121 0.259
7 Spain Aleix Espargaro
Aprilia 1'39.169 0.307
8 Italy Luca Marini
Ducati 1'39.386 0.524
9 Spain Joan Mir
Suzuki 1'39.398 0.536
10 Portugal Miguel Oliveira
KTM 1'39.445 0.583
11 Italy Francesco Bagnaia
Ducati 1'39.482 0.620
12 Spain Maverick Viñales
Yamaha 1'39.807 0.945
13 Spain Alex Marquez
Honda 1'39.530 0.668
14 Spain Pol Espargaro
Honda 1'39.710 0.848
15 South Africa Brad Binder
KTM 1'39.776 0.914
16 Italy Enea Bastianini
Ducati 1'39.855 0.993
17 Italy Valentino Rossi
Yamaha 1'39.943 1.081
18 Italy Danilo Petrucci
KTM 1'40.202 1.340
19 Spain Iker Lecuona
KTM 1'40.408 1.546
20 Italy Lorenzo Savadori
Aprilia 1'40.444 1.582
21 Japan Takaaki Nakagami
Honda
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Series MotoGP
Event Portugal GP
Author Lewis Duncan
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