Thankfully the MotoGP class took a much more cautious approach to the final Free Practice session after the carnage we witnessed during Free Practice 3. The temperatures had increased which meant they were less likely to be caught out at MotorLand Aragon.
Lowes failed to continue with rest of proceedings due to inury
Free Practice 4 was the last chance for riders to finalise settings ready for Qualifying. Following his highside in FP3, Alex Lowes whose ankle had swelled was ruled out of returning to track on Bradley Smith’s Monster Tech 3 Yamaha was ruled out of the rest of the day with the hope he would be fit enough to participate on race day.
Danilo Petrucci had also visited the medical centre after Pol Espargaro’s sliding Monster Tech 3 Yamaha took him out in a big way as he exited the pits on his Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati. The Italian could not remember the crash and so medics checked that he was fit to continue which he was declared to after stringent tests, although, he only had one bike now available.
Marquez straight on the pace from FP3
Repsol Honda rider Marc Marquez was straight on the pace in the final session of practice as he took to the top of the leaderboard straight away, and then improved his own time by over a second on his next lap. LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow slotted back into second position behind him as Marquez continued to improve his time.
As everyone wonders who will become the ninth rider, Team Suzuki Ecstar rider Aleix Espargaro has been going great at Aragon as he moved up to third on the timesheet in the last ten minutes of the session.
Laverty crashes out of final Free Practice session
Unfortunately for Pull & Bear Aspar MotoGP rider Eugene Laverty he crashed in the closing stages at turn 2 on the entry to ‘the Bus Stop'. The front of his Ducati tucked under him and both he and the bike slid into the run-off tarmac areas. He was assessing something on the left hand side of the bike that prevented him and the Marshals from getting it restarted so he could return to the pits on it. It was session over but luckily he was unhurt.
Marquez remains quickest after FP4
Marquez finished quickest ahead of Movistar Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi who made big improvements since his crash in FP3. Aleix Espargaro was third ahead of Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa and Crutchlow in fifth.
First qualifying session for MotoGP class at Aragon
The first Qualifying session got underway as the 11 riders, who did not make it onto the list of the top 10 riders from FP3, batted it out for the top two places on the timesheet in the hope of progressing to Qualifying 2.
Petrucci was on track and, aware that he only had one bike, was reluctant to tow other riders round and so he purposely ran off to prevent the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda riders following him. It was a huge distraction though and both Nicky Hayden (standing in for injured Jack Miller) and rookie Tito Rabat also ran onto the extra tarmac and then accidentally came together; luckily both stayed on and were able to continue.
Many battled for the top two spots
The battle at the top of the timesheet was great during the short session as Aprilia Racing Team Gresini riders Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl, Laverty, and Michele Pirro who is standing in for injured rider Andrea Iannone on his Ducati, all took their turn in the lead.
Pirro crashes out at the corkscrew
In the closing stages unfortunately, Pirro crashed out at turn eight on the entry to the corkscrew. The flag had gone out when the front had tucked under him and the bike and he both slid quickly towards the barrier; Pirro luckily avoided collision with the wall.
Petrucci and Bradl go through to Q2
Late laps meant that Petrucci and Bradl stole the top two spots which would see them through to the next Qualifying session. Petrucci was quickest with a time of 1:48.596 and Bradl’s time was 1:48.622. It was a great performance from both, Petrucci having experienced such misfortune already in the day, and Bradl as he is running well on the Aprilia in its rookie year.
Marquez claimed pole immediately
The short Qualifying session got underway for the rest of the MotoGP class and hungry for pole position, Marquez set out and lapped at 1:47.117 within minutes. He was using the hard front Michelin tyre and had changed the wings on the front of his Honda; they were much smaller and an extra piece was included below the air intake.
Marquez was riding really aggressively as he wrestled the Honda. It was fascinating to watch as he approached turn one hard on the brakes and the rear tyre lifted. He nearly improved on his own time after his next lap but a mistake in the final sector prevented him otherwise he would have made it through the 1:46 minute barrier.
Crutchlow crashes out at turn one
In the final stages, unfortunately for the British rider, Crutchlow crashed out at turn one on his last flying lap. After he belted down the start-finish straight, as soon as he touched the brakes for turn one he locked the front wheel and that caused the rest of his bike to play up and he crashed out. It was session over for him but luckily he was OK despite the fact he was so frustrated with the outcome. He remained the top independent rider.
Pedrosa crashes after nearly claiming pole
Moments later, also on his last lap, Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa also crashed on turn 15. He was on course to beat his teammate to pole position when he went extremely wide on the entry to the turn and then he slid out. He was OK but as a consequence he was pushed off the second row.
Marquez on pole for the Aragon GP
Marquez claimed pole ahead of the 14th round of the MotoGP season at the Gran Premio Movistar de Aragon. Maverick Vinales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) completed a last minute flying lap to steal second as did Lorenzo who completes the front row of the grid.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) will start from the front of the second row in fifth. Crutchlow has to settle dour fifth although he I the top independent team rider placed on the grid ahead of Rossi who completes row two. Pedrosa will start from seventh ahead of Aleix Espargaro and Petrucci who claimed ninth after a tough day at the office. British rider Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati) completes the top ten and will be joined on the fourth row by Pol Espargaro and Bradl.
Qualifying 1 results
As a result of the first qualifying session, Bautista will head the fifth row in front of Pull & Bear Aspar MotoGP Ducati teammates Yonny Hernandez and Laverty. Pirro will start from 7th on th grid ahead of rookie Rabat, wildcard replacement for Miller, Hayden and Injured Loriz Baz (Avintia Ducati) qualified 20th. If Alex Lowes is declared fit to race he will start from the back of the grid in 21st.