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Quartararo revelling in qualifying feats after latest pole in Catalunya

By Ben Spratt
Fabio Quartararo celebrates his latest pole

Catalunya, June 6: Fabio Quartararo claimed his fifth consecutive pole position on Saturday (June 5) and revealed he is preferring qualifying sessions to races right now, even as he leads the MotoGP world championship.

Having won three of the first six events this season – including the Italian Grand Prix last time out – Quartararo is 24 points clear at the top of the standings. He has never won more than three races in a campaign in the top category.

But the Monster Energy Yamaha sensation is arguably reserving his best displays for Saturdays.

After another outstanding performance in qualifying at the Catalunya Grand Prix, Quartararo will again line up on the front row.

This career-best run of poles means the Frenchman becomes the 15th rider to reach 15 in the premier class and he is well placed to repeat his impressive past race performances in Barcelona.

Quartararo's first ever podium came at the event in 2019, while he won in 2020.

Yet even another victory might not be as enjoyable as the qualifying session in which he bettered Jack Miller with a time of a minute and 38.853 seconds. He had remarkably already lapped in under 1:40 seven times in FP4.

"Qualifying is the best thing to do on a race weekend," he said. "I enjoy it much more than the race because you push yourself to the limit."

Quartararo even felt he could have performed better as he took pole, although his level of performance on both medium and hard tyres means there is a decision still to make on Sunday.

Jorge Lorenzo, in 2012 and 2013, was the last man to celebrate back-to-back Catalunya GP wins.

"The pace was great, medium and hard," Quartararo said. "The qualifying was great and I did a great first run. But actually, my lap was not that perfect.

"I thought I could improve a little bit more and on my second run I prepared really well the rear tyre, but I went on the yellow flag in sector three.

"But the most important thing is we're on the front row, P1. I'm so happy to see the fans back and I think it's giving a boost for everyone."

The previous rider to have five successive poles was Marc Marquez, with seven across 2013 and 2014.

But the six-time MotoGP champion failed to even make Q2 on Saturday and explained that a circuit where he has four podiums in a row is not suited to his Repsol Honda.

"Our weak point is the traction, and at this circuit, if you don't have the traction, it's impossible to be fast," said Marquez, who is aiming to avoid three straight retirements for the first time in his top category career.

"At the other circuits, you can brake later, stop, go, pick up. But here, at Turn 2, Turn 3, Turn 4, if you don't have the grip, it's impossible.

"Even in '19, when I was in a sweet moment, I was struggling here. Okay, you can say, 'You win the race', but I won the race because there was a strike in Turn 10. If not, I wasn't able to win the race.

"But anyway, let's see if tomorrow we can finish the race and continue this calendar."

Provisional classification

1. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) 1:38.853

2. Jack Miller (Ducati) +0.037s

3. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) +0.196s

4. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM) +0.246s

5. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha) +0.256s

6. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) +0.304s

7. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) +0.365s

8. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM) +0.490s

9. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) +0.506s

10. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) +0.578s

11. Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha) +0.752s

12. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda) +2.938s

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Story first published: Sunday, June 6, 2021, 1:50 [IST]
Other articles published on Jun 6, 2021