Pol Espargaro Nabs First Pole Position For KTM Ahead Of Styrian Grand Prix

Illustration for article titled Pol Espargaro Nabs First Pole Position For KTM Ahead Of Styrian Grand Prix
Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP (Getty Images)

MotoGP is heading back to the Red Bull Ring for the second week in a row, this time for the Styrian Grand Prix. And it’s looking like a promising event for the KTM team now that rider Pol Espargaro nabbed pole position with a time of 1:23.580, just two hundredths ahead of second-place rider Takaaki Nakagami.


It’s been a pretty great year for KTM. The outfit scored its first win with rookie Brad Binder in Brno. Now, Espargaro has taken home the Austrian team’s first ever pole position. It’s also Espargaro’s first pole position in MotoGP and his first since a Moto2 pole in 2013.

Track limits have come into play during qualifying for MotoGP, Moto2, and Moto3, with riders’ lap times being cancelled due to exceeding them. Maverick Vinales looked set to take pole after an impressive 1:24.217 lap only to have his time cancelled.

Fabio Quartararo, Espargaro, and Nakagami all swapped fastest times until the final two minutes of qualifying, when Espargaro jumped to the top of the charts with the fastest time of the day. Nakagami looked set to outshine Espargaro on his final fast lap, but the Japanese rider’s time was disallowed after he exceeded track limits.

Valentino Rossi, who looked set to move into Q2, had a crash at Turn 9 on his final fast lap that saw him lose his shot at a better starting position. The Yamaha rider will take the green flag in 15th place.

The full list of qualifying results can be found here.

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It’s an interesting and welcome contrast to F1 to see five different manufacturers in the first five places on the grid. Lots of other things to look out for too: Nakagami has shown that somebody other than Márquez can be competitive on the Honda (and in his case it’s the 2019 bike); the Suzukis and KTMs are genuinely quick (possible future homes for Dovizioso?); and Quartararo has had his first notably poor qualifying session this year.

(Rossi will be starting 14th after Zarco’s penalty for his part in last week’s crash is applied. While Zarco qualified third, he’ll be starting from the pitlane).