Factory team KTM has certainly shown its potential this season and building on the same is rider Pol Espargaro who bagged the pole position in the 2020 MotoGP Styrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring in Austria. The championship returned to the track for the fourth round of the season and saw Espargaro taking his and the team's maiden pole position. The rider set the fastest time of 1m23.580s, ahead of another surprise front-row starter Takaaki Nakagami from LCR Honda. The rider qualified just 0.22s behind Espargaro, while Avintia Ducati's Johann Zarco had another promising run and qualified at P3, 0.052s off the KTM rider. However, the rider will start from the pitlane tomorrow as a result of the horrific crash during last week's Austrian GP.
Petronas Yamaha's Fabio Quartararo set the fastest pace in Q1 in the opening stages of the qualifying session and set a time of 1m24.479s. However, Suzuki's Alex Rins was quick to take the top spot with a time of 1m24.461s. Factory Yamaha rider Maverick Vinales was next to set a top time of 1m24.217s but it was cancelled was exceeding track limits. This allowed Franco Morbidelli on the Petronas Yamaha to take pole position. However, both Quartararo and later Espargaro managed to put up better times taking the top spots.
Quartararo was the first to break into the 1m23s barrier with a time 1m23.866s but was soon eclipsed by Nakagami, who set a lap time of 1m23.602s and was the fastest of the Honda riders on his year-old motorcycle. His lead remained for about two minutes before Espargaro improved on the time in the latter part of Q2. The rider secured his first pole position since Moto2 in 2013.
Zarco showed immense pace through Q1 recovering from his wrist surgery earlier this week, after the crash last Sunday. The rider was involved in one of the worst crashes of MotoGP along with Franco Morbidelli but both riders miraculously escaped without any injuries. However, the Avintia rider is penalised for a pitlane start. This promotes Suzuki's Joan Mir to P3 and to the front row, while Pramac Ducati's Jack Miller starts from P4 who has an injured shoulder after his crash in FP3.
After a promising initial run, Vinales couldn't better his time and starts at P6 tomorrow, ahead of Rins and Tech3 KTM's Miguel Oliveira. Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso starts at P8, having won last week's race, while Quartararo starts at P9 after failing to make better time during Q2. The rider will start ahead of Morbidelli on the Petronas machine, as well as Danilo Petrucci on the works Ducati.
Tech3 KTM rider Iker Lecuona missed Q2 by just 0.156s and starts from P12 on the grid, ahead of Brno GP race winner Brad Binder on the factory KTM. Both Honda works riders Stefan Bradl and Alex Marquez failed to make it to Q2. while Yamaha's Valentino Rossi crashed on the final run of Q1 while setting a time to be promoted to Q2. The rider ended up at P15, but start 14th courtesy of Zarco's penalty.