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Bagnaia is ahead of Vinales and Binder on the pole

Bagnaia is ahead of Vinales and Binder on the pole

( – Three brands ended up on the front row of the grid in qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring in Styria. World Champion and last year’s winner Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) took his fifth pole position of the 2023 motocross season with a time of 1:28.539 minutes (Q2 result).

Francesco Bagnaia took pole for the fifth time this year

Maverick Viñales (Aprilia) had to admit defeat a hair’s breadth. Brad Bender finished third on the grid with his KTM. For the first time this year, South Africa has clinched from the top row of the grid. Honda was the only brand not represented in the second quarter.

After the first attempts, Viñales led the classification ahead of Bagnaia and Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha). Bender finished fourth on the KTM. Aleix Espargaro slid at turn three on his first attempt, but was able to put Aprilia back into the pits.

With the sun rising and the air temperature over 25 degrees Celsius, the decision was made in the last minutes. Once again, Viñales lifted the bar but after a flying knee the Spaniard missed Turn 4 and plowed straight through the gravel trap.

Bagnaia then tackled his final attempt and took pole position. “It was very difficult today because KTM and Aprilia have taken a really big step forward,” says the Italian. “We’re losing a bit. We didn’t expect pole position.”

In the end, Vinales missed his first pole for Aprilia by just 0.037 seconds. Viñales commented, “Blink of an eye! But we have to feel good.” “Best starting position of the year, we changed a lot over the weekend, I have a good rhythm.”

The second row of the grid was completed by the Ducati duo of Alex Marquez (Gresini) and Luca Marini (VR46). His teammate Marco Besicki qualified seventh. The time gaps in the upper field were, as usual, tight.

The only Japanese bike in Q2 was Quartararo’s Yamaha. The former World Champion finished ninth on the third row behind Miguel Oliveira (RNF-Aprilia). Row four places went to Johann Zarco (Pramac-Ducati), Aleix Espargaro and Jorge Martin.

The second Pramac Ducati rider’s fastest lap was canceled due to track restrictions. Martin also had to abandon a fly attempt after colliding with Alex Marquez. The Spaniard came back to the pits furiously.

All four Honda drivers fail in Q1

In Division One, all four Honda riders had to race, as well as Miller with his KTM. After the first attempts, teammates Miller and Paul Espargaro (Tech3) lead the rating. Marc Marquez (Honda) lost six-tenths of a second.

In the final search for times, Marigny initially took the lead in the timesheets, but Miller fought back and set the fastest time again. Paul Espargaro started his final flying tour with the best time in the first sector, but after that the split times didn’t improve.

The Italian has yet to find the perfect GP23 setup for his driving style. In the end, Honda’s best representative was Joan Mir in sixth place. Marc Marquez qualified 18th, and Honda came within six-tenths of Miller’s time in Q1.

Paul Espargaro was dropped three places on the starting grid for interfering with Marc Marquez on a flying lap in Friday practice. However, the penalty only applies to Grand Prix and not to the Sprint.

The 14-lap sprint will start at 3:00 PM (to the starting grid).