Bagnaia makes it five MotoGP poles in a row

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Fast five: Francesco Bagnaia flying at Portimao where he took a fifth straight pole (AFP/PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA)

Italian Ducati rider Francesco Bagnaia claimed a fifth successive MotoGP pole position on Saturday at the Algarve Grand Prix as newly-crowned world champion Fabio Quartararo struggled in seventh place.

"We did a really good job this weekend," Bagnaia said. "Everything is perfect."

Bagnaia, already confirmed as championship runner-up to Yamaha's French star Quartararo, will have Ducati teammate Jack Miller and Suzuki's 2020 title winner Joan Mir for company on the front row.

Quartararo, however, won on the same Portimao circuit in the Portuguese Grand Prix in April, but he started that race from pole.

The second row will feature two other Ducatis, the satellite Pramac team with Spaniard Jorge Martin and Frenchman Johann Zarco, and the Honda of Pol Espargaro.

Bagnaia again showed how he has improved by posting the two fastest times of qualifying right at the end of the session.

"I understand how to do the out lap," he said. "They asked me to be a lot more competitive."

Although this is his sixth pole of the season, Bagnaia has only converted two into wins. In Italy two weeks ago, his crash while leading in the final laps gave Quartararo the title.

In Misano, in the last race, the two Ducati men, Bagnaia and Miller, also took the first two places on the grid only to crash out of the race.

"We've had good pace in recent weekends but just haven't been able to translate it to Sunday." Miller said. "Now it's a matter of not making any silly decisions like last week, both myself and Pecco (Bagnaia), and we should be alright.

Mir, meanwhile, was upset with an old nemesis Alex Marquez for overtaking while he was winding up for a fast lap.

"It's a shame. Some strategy of some riders that I do not understand. Not so happy about that manoeuvre," he said.

The Algarve race is the penultimate race of the 2021 series with just Valencia to come later this month.

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