Pol Espargaro circulated the spectacular Red Bull Ring circuit in 1 minute and 23.580 seconds with his Red Bull KTM RC16 to register the manufacturer’s very first Pole Position after less than four seasons in MotoGP. The Spaniard will spearhead the front of Sunday’s BMW M Grand Prix of Styria grid with all four RC16s lining-up on the first five rows.
The second event in the space of a week at the fast Red Bull Ring took place in warm and sunny conditions and with Espargaro in scorching form, eager to compensate for the missed opportunity to claim a trophy at the Austrian round the previous Sunday. The 29-year old set the pace through the first day of Free Practice and went straight through to Q2 on Saturday as one of the quickest racers in the field.
On his seventh lap of nine in Q2 Espargaro posted a lap-time that was 0.022 of a second better than Takaaki Nakagami to seal his maiden Pole Position in the class, his second-ever front row slot with the RC16 and the third for the team. Their last clear view of the track prior to the start of a Grand Prix came at the Misano World Circuit - Marco Simoncelli last summer. The chrono was incredibly close with less than half a second splitting the top ten; making Espargaro’s effort all the more impressive.
Red Bull KTM Tech3’s Miguel Oliveira will head the third row after confirming 8th position in his Q2 effort. Due to another rider’s penalization the Portuguese will start 7th. Both teammate Iker Lecuona and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Brad Binder tried their best to gain promotion from Q1 but the pair will launch from 12th and 13th places for the 28-lap race on Sunday at 14.00 CET; the 900th GP in the premier class of the FIM Motorcycle World Championship.
Pol Espargaro: “Unbelievable. I’m really pleased. I could not imagine we would go Pole and I was fighting for the first or the second row. We were struggling for a very fast lap: I was missing the last tenth [of a second] and making small mistakes. I knew I could do an ‘OK’ lap if I could stay away from the green track limits! Anyway, I’m super-pleased and super-happy. All my guys and all of Red Bull KTM have worked for this and I’m happy for them.”
Miguel Oliveira: “Overall it was a positive day. We did a very good FP3 session and also a super-good FP4 with a very strong race pace. I went into qualifying feeling ready and I did my best. It was not enough to arrive in the first two rows, which was our goal. But anyway, it is good to start from the third row, better than last weekend and I think we are ready for the race tomorrow.”
Iker Lecuona: “I’m really happy about today. This morning I tried to go to Q2 directly but I missed it by less than one tenth of a second, as everybody is incredibly close on this track. Later in FP4, I was working towards the race. I know I have a decent pace for tomorrow. In qualifying I pushed very hard on my last lap and finished in P1, but later Zarco and Petrucci went a bit faster than me, so I couldn’t make it to Q2. But honestly, I’m really delighted. It’s my best position on the grid so far and I want to say thanks to the team. We are working very well, I’m very comfortable on the bike and I can ride smooth. So, we will see what we can do tomorrow in the race.”
Brad Binder: “This morning I was 0.003 from getting straight into Q2 and then in Q1 I gave it a good try but unfortunately was not quick enough. It is what it is. The times are super-tight around this track and I’m looking forward to tomorrow. Starting where I am I need to make up time when everybody is tight and compressed. I’m going to have to try and put together a good first lap and then the first two-three is where I will make-or-break my race. Let’s see how we get on.”
Moto2 & Moto3
Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Raul Fernandez will start from the first row for the third Moto3 Grand Prix in succession after missing out on another Pole Position by the slimmest of margins. The Spaniard was only 0.012 of a second behind Gabriel Rodrigo. SKY Racing Team VR46’s Celestino Vietti was 5th from the Q2 session with his KTM RC4.
In Moto2 Red Bull KTM Ajo duo Jorge Martin and Tetsuta Nagashima filled two of the first three positions on the grid. Martin was denied his second pole position by just a tenth of a second.
Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup
The opening race of the second round of the 2020 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup was won by Pedro Acosta. The young Spaniard posted his third victory in a row after his success at Red Bull Ring last weekend.
Races: August 23rd, 2020 – Moto3 11.00 | Moto2 12.20 | MotoGP 14.00 CET
Results Qualifying MotoGP BMW M Grand Prix of Styria 2020
1. Pol Espargaro (ESP) Red Bull KTM 1:23.580
2. Takaaki Nakagami (JPN) Honda +0.022
3. Johann Zarco (FRA) Ducati +0.052
4. Joan Mir (ESP) Suzuki +0.098
5. Jack Miller (AUS) Ducati +0.120
8. Miguel Oliveira (POR) Red Bull KTM Tech3 +0.217
13. Iker Lecuona (ESP) Red Bull KTM Tech3 (Q1) 1:23.928
14. Brad Binder (RSA) Red Bull KTM (Q1) 1:23.932
Results Qualifying Moto2 BMW M Grand Prix of Styria 2020
1. Aron Canet (ESP) 1:28.787
2. Jorge Martin (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo +0.118
3. Tetsuta Nagashima (JPN) Red Bull KTM Ajo +0.370
Results Qualifying Moto3 BMW M Grand Prix of Styria 2020
1. Gabriel Rodrigo (ARG) Honda 1:36.470
2. Raul Fernandez (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo +0.012
3. Tatsuki Suzuki (JPN) Honda +0.064