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Motorcycling: Morbidelli snatches maiden pole as Yamaha dominate in Barcelona

(Reuters) - Italian rider Franco Morbidelli claimed his maiden MotoGP pole position at the Catalunya Grand Prix on Saturday as Yamaha bikes secured the entire front row for Sunday’s race in Barcelona.

FILE PHOTO: MotoGP - Emilia Romagna Grand Prix - Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, Misano, Italy - September 20, 2020 Petronas Yamaha SRT's Franco Morbidelli in action during the race REUTERS/Jennifer Lorenzini/File Photo

Petronas Yamaha rider Morbidelli powered through the final sector at Circuit de Catalunya to deliver a scorching lap of one minute 38.798 seconds, edging out team mate Fabio Quartararo.

“To beat Fabio in a hot lap is always great which means you’re very, very fast,” said Morbidelli, who is fifth in the world championship standings.

“I was feeling great with the bike and tomorrow we’ll try to make a good race as well.”

Early pace-setter Quartararo went for one final attempt as the chequered flag came out but was unable to improve on his second-place finish.

Italian great Valentino Rossi, who committed his future to Petronas Yamaha for the 2021 season earlier on Saturday, finished third on his factory Yamaha bike to seal a front-row position for the first time this season.

“It’s a really great result to be in the front row, especially today which is special because I signed a contract for next year,” nine-times world champion Rossi said.

Championship leader Andrea Dovizioso’s difficult run in qualifying sessions this season continued as the Ducati rider failed to qualify for Q2. He will start Sunday’s race 17th on the grid.

The first seven rounds of the COVID-hit season have produced six different winners, with Quartararo taking the opening two races in Jerez, Spain.

Dovizioso leads the world championship with 84 points, a point ahead of Quartararo and Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales.

Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; editing by Clare Fallon

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