Montmeló (Spain) (AFP)

The Frenchman Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha), leader of the MotoGP world championship, took pole position for the fifth time in a row this season, during qualifying for the Grand Prix of Catalonia on Saturday.

In the front row on Sunday at 1:00 p.m., Quartararo will be accompanied by the Australian Jack Miller (Ducati) and the other Frenchman Johann Zarco (Ducati-Pramac), second in the world championship.

Portuguese Miguel Oliveira (KTM), Italian Franco Morbidelli (Yamaha-SRT) and Spaniard Maverick Vinales (Yamaha), will follow in the second row on the Barcelona-Catalonia circuit for the 7th round of the season.

Quartararo, 22, is aiming for a fourth win this season.

He has a 24-point lead in the world championship over Zarco, 26 over Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati), who will start only 9th, and 31 over Miller.

Spaniard Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) will be 7th and South African Brad Binder (KTM) 8th on the starting grid.

Reigning world champion Joan Mir (Suzuki) completed the top 10, ahead of Italian legend Valentino Rossi (Yamaha-SRT), 11th.

"I didn't feel super fast on the first quick lap," Quartararo responded to the Canal + microphone.

"I was preparing a pretty good one (...) but unfortunately there were a lot of yellow flags" following the crashes of Miller and Pol Espargaro (Honda).

Even if he could not improve his time at the end of the session and put himself permanently in the shelter of his pursuers, Quartararo preserved the pole and "that is the most important", he smiled.

"Fabio seems really on top this weekend", admitted his compatriot Zarco, who will want "at least to play the podium, that would be very beautiful".

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Many spectators were present in the stands on Friday, while the circuit can accommodate 20% of its total capacity this weekend, or 24,000 people per day at most.

"It's incredible to see all these French flags, there are more than Spaniards so it's really nice, I thank them, it feels good to find them," Quartararo said.

© 2021 AFP