MotoGP Argentina GP: Alex Marquez takes maiden pole after slick gamble in wet session

Gresini Ducati’s Alex Marquez scored a maiden MotoGP pole position at the Argentina Grand Prix after gambling on slicks on a damp track in qualifying.

Alex Marquez, Gresini Racing

The younger Marquez brother has not headed a grid since his title-winning Moto2 season in 2019, with the Gresini rider finding life in MotoGP largely tough going since stepping up in 2020 with Honda.

Marquez led Fabio Quartararo through Q1, but crashed at Turn 13 on his final lap as he tried to pass Honda’s Joan Mir.

That wasn’t enough to deny him top spot in Q1, though the crash left his bike with damage while a fire erupted around the belly pan as he tried to ride back to pitlane, leaving him with just one bike for Q2.

Gambling on slicks in the closing stages on Q2 as the rain-hit track slowly dried, Alex Marquez produced a 1m43.881s to lead a Ducati 1-2-3 ahead of Marco Bezzecchi and championship leader Francesco Bagnaia.

Split tyre strategies led to a massive gulf in lap times in Q2, with fourth-placed Franco Morbidelli the highest placed wet tyre runner in fourth – 2.1s off the pace.

Despite a strong Friday, Aprilia could only qualify as high as fifth with Maverick Vinales, as Aleix Espargaro struggled to ninth ahead of Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo.

The rainfall which had affected Q1 had disappeared for the start of the 15-minute pole shootout session.

Yamaha’s Morbidelli set the early pace on rain tyres with a 1m47.082s, though was quickly usurped by Pramac Ducati’s Johann Zarco.

Marco Bezzecchi, VR46 Racing Team

Marco Bezzecchi, VR46 Racing Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

As the track slowly dried, a number of riders elected to pit for slick tyres, with Marquez, Bagnaia and Bezzecchi taking the gamble as the rest stayed on wets.

Morbidelli, who’d elected to stay on rain tyres, blitzed the field with just under two minutes to go with a 1m45.982s.

Staring down a first pole since 2020, Morbidelli’s stint at the head of the field wouldn’t last long as the slick runners began to light up the timing screen with session-best sectors.

VR46 Ducati rider Bezzecchi was first on the road on slicks and took provisional pole with a 1m44.053s on his final lap.

But behind him, Marquez on the Gresini-run Ducati was besting his sector times and hooked it together to produce a 1m43.881s to score a surprise maiden pole.

Bagnaia completed the top three, 0.858s off the pace, with Morbidelli shuffled back to the head of row two from Vinales and Zarco.

Luca Marini will start seventh for this afternoon’s sprint and Sunday’s grand prix on the second of the VR46 Ducatis ahead of Pramac’s Jorge Martin and Aleix Espargaro.

Quartararo struggled when the track dried out towards the end of Q1 and could only manage 10th, with LCR Honda duo Takaaki Nakagami and Alex Rins completing the top 12.

RNF Aprilia’s Raul Fernandez tried to gamble on slicks at the start of the wet Q1, but still managed to qualify 13th when switched to the rain tyres.

He beat Gresini’s Fabio Di Giannantonio, with factory KTM duo Brad Binder and Jack Miller, Tech3 rookie Augusto Fernandez and Mir rounding out the depleted 18-rider field.

The sprint race will start at 7pm BST.

Cla Rider Bike Laps Time Gap
1 Spain Alex Marquez Ducati 7 1'43.881  
2 Italy Marco Bezzecchi Ducati 8 1'44.053 0.172
3 Italy Francesco Bagnaia Ducati 8 1'44.739 0.858
4 Italy Franco Morbidelli Yamaha 7 1'45.982 2.101
5 Spain Maverick Viñales Aprilia 7 1'46.236 2.355
6 France Johann Zarco Ducati 7 1'46.463 2.582
7 Italy Luca Marini Ducati 8 1'46.588 2.707
8 Spain Jorge Martin Ducati 8 1'46.635 2.754
9 Spain Aleix Espargaro Aprilia 8 1'46.878 2.997
10 France Fabio Quartararo Yamaha 7 1'47.122 3.241
11 Japan Takaaki Nakagami Honda 7 1'48.209 4.328
12 Spain Alex Rins Honda 7 1'48.694 4.813
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