Fabio Quartararo walked away from a nasty crash in practice to claim pole position for Sunday's Aragaon MotoGP

Alcañiz (Spain) (AFP) - MotoGP championship leader Fabio Quartararo shrugged off a heart-stopping high speed crash in third practice on Saturday to claim pole for Sunday’s Aragon Grand Prix.

The young Frenchman displayed the single-mindedness and poise worthy of a world champion to even take part in qualifying after his second fall of the race weekend, let alone top the timesheets at the Aragon Motorland circuit.

The Yamaha satellite SRT rider, who escaped with only bruising on his right hip to add to the bruising on his left hip from Friday’s spill, is joined on the front row by Maverick Vinales.

“As soon as I crashed I was thinking ‘will I be able to ride in qualifying?’” said Quartararo.

“Then I thought I could ride as the injury wasn’t too bad, so yes, I’m happy.

“It was a tough morning, following my tough morning yesterday (Friday).

“My lap time was great. I could do better, it wasn’t perfect but I can be happy with pole.”

Vinales is the Yamaha factory team’s sole contender after teammate Valentino Rossi was forced to quarantine after testing positive for Covid-19.

“Our race pace is good and that is the most important thing,” said the Spaniard.

“Tomorrow we have to improve a little and be more consistent.”

Cal Crutchlow completes the front row, the Honda-LCR rider taking third in qualifying.

Quartararo’s SRT teammate Franco Morbidelli, Ducati’s Australian rider Jack Miller and Joan Mir occupy the second row.

Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso, third in the championship, failed to make it into the second qualifying session and starts outside the top 12.

- Practice crash -

Quartararo, winner of the opening two races, holds a 10-point lead over Ducati’s Mir in the standings going into this tenth leg of the season.

But he was lucky to escape serious injury after a heart-stopping high speed crash towards the end of Saturday’s third free practice session.

The 21-year-old Frenchman was thrown onto the circuit’s tarmac after losing control of his Yamaha when braking into a bend.

Flung over his twisting machine he hit the track hard, sliding tens of metres before finally coming to a rest in the safety gravel.

Fabio Quartararo relives his crash in practice on Saturday

A doctor was immediately at his side and he was stretchered off, grimacing, to the on-site medical unit.

After being checked over his team announced: “News about Fabio: rider is OK. He has pain in the hip, but Xrays confirmed that nothing is broken.”

His manager Eric Mahe told Canal + television that Quartararo had a bruise on his right hip to go with the one on his left hip from Friday.

“It’s nothing serious,” said Maje. “After two warm up laps he’ll forget all about it.”