MotoGP – Styrian Grand Prix – Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Austria – August 22, 2020 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pol Espargaro during qualifying REUTERS/Lisi Niesner
(Reuters) – Spanish rider Pol Espargaro claimed a first MotoGP pole position for KTM at the Styrian Grand Prix in Spielberg on Saturday, while Valentino Rossi finished 15th after a crash.
Espargaro will be starting at the front of the grid for the first time in the premier class after producing a blistering lap of one minute 23.580 seconds at the Red Bull Ring.
KTM have already impressed with their pace this season as they claimed their first-ever MotoGP victory, courtesy of rookie Brad Binder in Brno earlier this month.
LCR Honda’s Takaaki Nakagami put Espargaro’s lap under serious threat on his final run but his effort was chalked off for exceeding track limits as he settled for a career-best second spot.
Avintia Ducati’s Johann Zarco was third-fastest but will start Sunday’s race from the pitlane after he was penalised for his role in a crash with Petronas Yamaha’s Franco Morbidelli at Austrian Grand Prix last week.
It means Suzuki’s Joan Mir, who finished fourth, will enjoy a front-row start, ahead of Pramac Ducati’s Jack Miller and Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales.
Seven-times MotoGP champion Rossi qualified only 15th on his factory Yamaha after crashing at turn nine on his final effort, which was set to earn him a Q2 place.
Last weekend’s race winner Andrea Dovizioso qualified ninth for Ducati, while Championship leader Fabio Quartararo slipped to 10th spot on his Petronas Yamaha.
Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar