When Friday practice began for the Aragon Grand Prix—round 14 of 18 in 2016 MotoGP—the Repsol Honda RC213V team of Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez was quickest.Pedrosa, who won last time out at Misano, claimed the top time by a mere 0.065 of a second ahead of two-time MotoGP Champion and current points leader Marquez.
But come Saturday, Marquez dominated; the 23-year-old Spaniard led Free Practices 3 and 4, and went on to earn the MotoGP pole at Motorland Aragon with a lap of 1:47.117. He is now tied for a record 64 Grand Prix poles with the reigning MotoGP Champion, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo.[Visit the Ultimate Motorcycling MotoGP Page]Joining Marquez on the front row for Sunday’s Aragon MotoGP is Suzuki Team Ecstar’s Maverick Vinales and Lorenzo; both riders finished over 0.6 of a second behind Marquez.“I’m very happy with how the day went, especially with the pace we had in FP4, which was very good. Today we found a good setup for the bike and we were able to improve on yesterday, although it was a shame about the crash this morning. In qualifying I was very comfortable on my first lap, as it is when the tyre had its maximum potential, and I also pushed on my second lap but not as close to the limit,” Marquez says.“With today’s temperatures we were able to work very well with the front end. Hopefully the good weather continues tomorrow. If it gets colder, we would have to reassess the front tyre choice. Regardless, I’m satisfied; like every year, I feel very good at this track and I hope we can finish well on Sunday.”Following is the official Aragon MotoGP Qualifying Report:The grey of Friday at MotorLand Aragon turned powder blue on Saturday, as qualifying day brought warmer temperatures and shining late September sun for the Gran Premio Movistar de Aragon. Q2’s pre-session favourite for pole was unquestionably Marc Marquez after the Repsol Honda rider was fastest by some margin in both FP3 and FP4 on ominous form, and the number 93 turned promise into pole position in spectacular style to head the timesheets by an incredible gap of six tenths. Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) complete the front row as MotoGP™ gets back on their home turf.FP4 saw PULL&BEAR Aspar rider Yonny Hernandez into the top ten, but the Colombian sadly wasn’t able to replicate the performance in Q1 as Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Yakhnich), Hector Barbera (Avintia Racing) and Aprilia Racing Team Gresini duo Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl joined the South American in the battle for graduation to Q2. Petrucci eventually topped the session, with Bradl impressing as the German got an Aprilia through to Q2 for the second successive race after Bautista managed the same at Misano last time out. Alex Lowes (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), replacing injured Bradley Smith for the third time in a row, had a crash in FP3 and subsequently decided to stay off track on Saturday afternoon – with a decision on whether to race left for Sunday morning.With Q2 underway Marquez hit first, with Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) slotting into P2 early on and reigning champion Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) suddenly pulling a laptime out the bag to take a provisional front row. Looking to improve in the second run, Repsol Honda rider Marquez’ first flying run proved to set his fastest time – just shy of a 1:46 lap of the 5.1km venue.As the second run got underway, Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) leapt up into P2 before former teammate Cal Crutchlow lost his Honda into Turn 1 in the first high profile crash of the session. It was then Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) who moved up into second, as Friday’s fastest Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) suffered a crash soon after Crutchlow and saw his session come to an equally early end.The last minute drama wasn’t over there, as Lorenzo again improved his laptime in the final minutes to knock Dovizioso back off the front row, completing the all-Spanish top three on home turf behind Marquez and Viñales.“DesmoDovi” finally heads up row two ahead of late crasher Crutchlow, with Movistar Yamaha MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi further down the timesheets in P6 to complete the second row, despite proving fastest Yamaha on Friday. The ‘Doctor’ had a difficult day at the office, including a highside crash at Turn 9 in FP3.Pedrosa starts from seventh after his crash in qualifying – one place higher than his grid position ahead of victory at Misano World Circuit – with second Suzuki rider Aleix Espargaro behind the ‘Baby Samurai’ in P8. Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Yakhnich) just beat teammate Scott Redding to the third row, with the Pramac pair pushing Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) down to P11. Stefan Bradl (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) completed the Q2 graduates in P12.Racing gets underway at 14:00 local time at MotorLand Aragon, as Marquez prepares to paint the town red – and increase that 43 point lead as the flyways beckon on the road to Valencia.
This week, Senior Editor Nic de Sena rides the all new Ducati Monster. Big changes have been made by Ducati–has the company ruined the considerable heritage of the iconic Monster–or are the changes worth it? In the second part of the show, we chat with Nick Ienatsch, Founder and Head Instructor at the Yamaha Champions Riding School. He says: “We aim to change your riding life by introducing you to Champions Habits: The techniques, approaches, skills, and the mindsets of the best riders in the world. These Champions Habits are the foundation of safety and consistency to whatever speed you ride, in any venue on any bike. Street riders, this is just as much for you as track riders. The best way to make safe riders is to make good riders.“ We hope you enjoy this episode!