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MotoGP: Starting grid and race preview for the Aragon Grand Prix

By Peter Thompson
Fabio Quartararo

Aragon, October 17: Fabio Quartararo recovered from another high-speed crash to give himself a great opportunity to extend his championship lead at the Aragon Grand Prix.

Quartararo will start on pole at MotorLand on Sunday after an astonishing display of courage in qualifying, having suffered a heavy fall in the final practice session.

The Frenchman was seen using a crutch in the paddock after going down on his hip at turn 14 on Saturday, but returned to the track to take a second successive pole ahead of Maverick Vinales, with Cal Crutchlow taking third.

MotoGP 2020: Incredible Quartararo goes from stretcher to pole in Aragon

Quartararo has won all three races in Spain this year and with Joan Mir, 10 points behind the Petronas Yamaha rider in the riders' standings, only sixth, opportunity knocks for the leader.

WHAT HAPPENED IN QUALIFYING

It was looking bleak for Quartararo when he was carried from the side of the track on a stretcher in FP3, yet he was given the all-clear after having an X-ray in the medical tent.

The 21-year-old also crashed on Friday, but showed in qualifying he is a man on a mission in the battle for the title.

A lap of one minute, 47.076 seconds gave him back-to-back poles, having started at the front at Le Mans last weekend before finishing back in ninth.

The wounded Quartararo just pipped Vinales in the final moments of qualifying, sending a big message to his rivals. Mir will still fancy his chances despite giving himself work to do, while Andrea Dovizioso was furious after failing to make it out of Q1.

Dovizioso is just 18 points adrift of Quartararo, but that could be significantly bigger on Sunday, as he will start back in 13th on the grid.

No Ducati riders made it through to Q2 automatically but Jack Miller was able to take fifth behind Franco Morbidelli, while Danilo Petrucci - winner of the French Grand Prix - qualified in eighth.

THE STARTING GRID

1. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha), 2. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha), 3. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) 4. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha), 5. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing), 6. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) 7. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda), 8. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati), 9. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) 10. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar), 11. Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda), 12. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) 13. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati), 14. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), 15. Iker Lecuona (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) 16. Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing), 17. Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing), 18. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) 19. Bradley Smith (Aprilia), 20. Tito Rabat (Esponsorama Racing), 21. Stefan Bradl (Repsol Honda)

ARAGON GRAND PRIX TALKING POINTS

Mir claimed Quartararo "lost the most" despite extending his lead by two points at the French Grand Prix last weekend.

Quartararo let his riding do the talking on Saturday and has another Spanish success in his sights, following victories in the Grand Prix of Spain, an Andalucia triumph and victory in Catalonia.

What is certain is there will be a new winner of this race on Sunday, with Marc Marquez not fit to claim victory for the fifth year in a row.

Casey Stoner was the last non-Spaniard to win the Aragon GP back in 2011 and Vinales will be hoping that trend continues.

Dovizioso will surely not end the Spanish dominance and it would be a massive achievement if he avoids his longest run without a podium finish in the premier class since 2016.

The Ducati rider has gone five races without finishing in the top three.

WHAT THE RIDERS SAID

Fabio Quartararo (pole): "As soon as I had the crash I wasn't sure if I could ride. Right now it's not that bad, but when I crashed I felt quite bad. I stood up and felt something was wrong, but I'm so happy because it was a tough morning."

Maverick Vinales (2nd): "I'm very happy and honestly couldn't have asked for much more. I felt incredible, which is the most important thing, and tomorrow we'll try to improve a little bit more and hopefully have more consistency."

Cal Crutchlow (3rd): It's nice to come here and get a front row, I was so close in Le Mans. The team has been done a great job, we've been working hard and seem to have made a small step in every session.

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Riders 1. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha) 115 2. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) 105 3. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 97 4. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) 96 5. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda) 81

Teams 1. Petronas Yamaha 192 2. Suzuki Ecstar 165 3. Ducati 161 4. Monster Energy Yamaha 154 5. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 135

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Story first published: Saturday, October 17, 2020, 22:40 [IST]
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