Takaaki Nakagami will start a MotoGP World Championship race from pole position for the first time in his career at Motorland Aragon after successfully transferring his strong Friday form when it mattered through into qualifying.

The Japanese rider has been in fine fettle this weekend on the back of the confirmation he will be retained by Honda in MotoGP for the foreseeable future after signing a ‘multi-year contract’ to remain with the company.

Having been the standout performer in free practice, LCR Honda’s Nakagami came into the qualifying session as the hot favourite to better his previous best of second place in Styria and become the latest rider to notch up a new career landmark.

 

 

And so it proved, Nakagami producing a scintillating lap time of 1m 46.882 to see off his rivals and earn Honda its first pole position of the 2020 MotoGP season.

It also makes him the first Japanese rider in 16 years to notch up a MotoGP pole position after Makoto Tamada last achieved the feat in Valencia 2004.

He will get away alongside Franco Morbidelli and last weekend’s Aragon MotoGP winner Alex Rins, the respective Yamaha and Suzuki pair ensuring a trio of different manufacturers would be starting up front for the 11th race of 14. Additionally, it is Rins' first front row start since Assen 2019.

Quickest coming into qualifying after topping the race-focused FP4 session, Maverick Vinales was the best placed of the four title contenders in fourth position, with Johann Zarco sparing some blushes at Ducati by cracking Q1 to make Q2 and carrying on until fifth place. Even so, Ducati will be somewhat humbled to see a year-old Ducati GP19 leading the way instead. 

Fabio Quartararo starts sixth but will take heart from series leader and big rival Joan Mir failing to qualify higher than 12th position, the Suzuki rider left with a lot of work to do coming into Sunday’s all-important race.

Cal Crutchlow gets underway from seventh, ahead of KTM’s Miguel Oliveira and Pol Espargaro, while Aragon podium winner Alex Marquez and first time Q2 entrant Iker Lecuona filled 10th and 11th, ahead of the frustrated Mir.

With Espargaro and Zarco the riders to make it through to Q2, there were several notable names missing from the leading positions, not least Ducati’s Jack Miller - down in 14th - and worse for Andrea Dovizioso, who will be on the back foot in his efforts to claw ground from 17th position.

 

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