Japan’s Takaaki Nakagami sprang a surprise to set the second fastest time for Honda’s satellite LCR team to join the Spaniard on the front row.
Placed third was Johann Zarco but rather than joining Espargaro and Nakagami at the front of the grid the Frenchman will be starting from the pitlane.
Zarco was penalised for “irresponsible riding” in a crash with Franco Morbidelli last week. He was back on his bike after sitting out Friday’s practice due to surgery on the wrist he injured in the collision.
Championship leader Fabio Quartararo failed to fire and sets off 10th for this fifth leg of the coronavirus-disrupted season, while South African rider Brad Binder starts in 14th place on the grid.