Petronas youngster outshines Yamaha veterans to take pole

Quartararo celebrates pole with a wheelie. (AFP pic)

JEREZ: Frenchman Fabio Quartararo snatched the first MotoGP pole position of his career when he edged Petronas Yamaha-SRT teammate Franco Morbidelli at the Spanish Grand Prix on Saturday.

At 20 years and 14 days old, Quartararo became the youngest rider ever to take pole in MotoGP, breaking the record held by Marc Marquez who was 20 years and 62 days old when he won pole in the GP of the Americas in 2013.

World champion Marquez, a two-time winner of the event, was third fastest on Saturday, to complete the front row of the Jerez grid as MotoGP marks its 300th race.

“It’s incredible,” said Quartararo who is in his rookie season in the top division of motorcycling.

“It was an enormous lap. I was on the limit all the way round. This circuit is fantastic and it’s truly my greatest achievement.”

The two young riders on the Yamaha satellite outfit eclipsed their elders on the lead Yamaha team.

Spaniard Maverick Vinales qualified fifth, while on the other factory Yamaha, Italian veteran Valentino Rossi, who is second in the overall standings, was 13th fastest.

“I am happy about the day but if tomorrow is warmer, everything becomes more difficult,” said Marquez who was full of praise for the French pole-sitter.

“I know him from the Spanish championship where he achieved many podiums and victories. He has already beaten a world record which is the youngest poleman so tomorrow I will try to stop him from beating another record – the youngest winner.”

The second row on the starting grid for Sunday will be made up of world championship leader Andrea Dovizioso on a Ducati, Vinales and Cal Crutchlow on a Honda.

Earlier Italian Danilo Petrucci on a Ducati recorded the fastest time in free practice and became the first man to ever lap the recently resurfaced Jerez track in under 1min 37sec, breaking the record held by Crutchlow.

The morning session was briefly halted after Crutchlow crashed and hit the air fence on Turn 10. The Briton was unhurt but the fence punctured and deflated.