Bagnaia sizzles to Jerez MotoGP pole

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Italian rider Francesco Bagnaia is on pole for Jerez (AFP/JAVIER SORIANO) (JAVIER SORIANO)

Ducati rider Francesco Bagnaia signalled a return to form by scorching his way to pole position for the Spanish MotoGP with a new track-record at Jerez Saturday.

The Italian was a massive 0.453sec faster than reigning world champion and current championship leader Fabio Quartararo with a sizzling 1min 36.17sec fastest lap ever raced on the track.

The pair will start side by side in forecast sunshine at the Jerez circuit Sunday in the sixth GP of the 21-race season.

The 25-year-old Bagnaia ran Quartararo a close second for the title in 2021 but made a poor start this season before declaring that he was starting to "feel better on the bike" after an eighth-place finish in last weekend's race in Portugal.

Defending world champion Quartararo won last weekend and was happy with second to the Ducati Saturday.

"Mission accomplished. I hadn't expected to be in second place half a second behind though," said the Frenchman.

"I'm not sure what's missing, but were not the only ones struggling over a lap."

Suzuki's Alex Rins is co-leader in the standings after five GPs but struggled in qualifying and will start from 14th.

Spaniard Aleix Espargaro on an Aprilia took the third place on the front row with Australian Jack Miller and Frenchman Johann Zarco, both on Ducatis sandwiching Spaniard Marc Marquez on a Honda on the second.

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