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Qualifying report

MotoGP Portuguese GP: Marc Marquez grabs first pole of 2023, Quartararo 11th

Marc Marquez banished a difficult pre-season for Honda to take the first pole of the 2023 MotoGP season at the Portuguese Grand Prix with a new lap record.

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

As part of MotoGP’s radical format shake-up for 2023, qualifying now takes place on Saturday morning and sets the grid for both the main grand prix on Sunday and this afternoon’s new sprint contest.

A difficult winter on the 2023 Honda left Marquez feeling like the bike he currently has isn't enough for him to be a title contender.

But, having come through Q1 with setting new lap record, the eight-time world champion stormed to his first pole since last year’s Japanese Grand Prix with an even faster lap of 1m37.226s.

He heads reigning world champion Francesco Bagnaia and his Pramac Ducati counterpart Jorge Martin, while Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo’s weekend has been thrown askew after he could only managed 11th.

After falling outside of the top 10 places to get straight through to Q2 at the end of Friday’s FP2 due to a crash, Marquez put in just one lap of 1m37.675s to safely ease through Q1 with RNF Aprilia’s Miguel Oliveira.

Contrasting Honda’s fortunes, Marquez was the only HRC rider to progress into the pole shootout session.

KTM’s Jack Miller set the early pace in Q2 with a new lap record of 1m37.549s, which put him over three tenths clear of the field at that point.

Several riders were able to chip away at his advantage, but it would take until the final two minutes of the 15-minute session before the Australian was finally usurped.

Factory Ducati rider Bagnaia, who crashed in the preceding FP3 session and was left with just one bike for qualifying, fired in a 1m37.290s to move 0.259s clear of the field.

Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha Factory Racing

Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha Factory Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Marquez getting through Q1 on only one soft tyre left him with two to use in the session, but had nothing going for him on his first run.

On the first flying lap of his second run, Marquez clicked through the first sector just 0.071s outside of the fastest lap but pulled out as he entered sector two.

This allowed Ducati’s Enea Bastianini to move ahead of him on track and gave the Honda rider a crucial tow to help him on his final lap.

Marquez duly produced a 1m37.226s shadowing Bastianini to take the first pole of 2023 and start Saturday afternoon’s sprint from the front of the pack.

Bagnaia’s final lap was scuppered by coming across traffic, leaving him in second ahead of Pramac’s Martin.

Oliveira had just one fresh soft tyre to use in Q2 after escaping Q1, and put his satellite Aprilia fourth on the grid ahead of Miller – who crashed late on in Q2 – and Bastianini.

Maverick Vinales will line up seventh for this weekend’s brace of races from VR46 Ducati rider Marco Bezzecchi and his team-mate Luca Marini, with Johann Zarco on the second Pramac Ducati 10th.

Yamaha’s Quartararo felt on Friday when he was sixth fastest overall that he was “on the limit”, and failed to make any progress with his bike on Saturday.

He’ll line up 11th ahead of Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro, who crashed early on in Q2.

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Gresini Ducati’s Alex Marquez came close to a place in Q2, but had to settle for 13th ahead of factory Honda rider Joan Mir and KTM’s Brad Binder – who is carrying a neck injury from a crash he had in testing in Portugal two weeks ago.

Alex Rins will start his first races as an LCR Honda rider from 16th ahead of Yamaha’s Franco Morbidelli, LCR Honda’s Takaaki Nakagami and Tech3 GASGAS rookier Augusto Fernandez.

Raul Fernandez (RNF Aprilia) and Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini) complete the field, while Tech3’s Pol Espargaro has been ruled out of action indefinitely after his horrifying FP2 accident on Friday.

The inaugural MotoGP sprint race will take place at 3pm GMT.

MotoGP Portuguese GP Qualifying 2 results

Cla Rider Bike Time Gap
1 Spain Marc Marquez Honda 1'37.226  
2 Italy Francesco Bagnaia Ducati 1'37.290 0.064
3 Spain Jorge Martin Ducati 1'37.454 0.228
4 Portugal Miguel Oliveira Aprilia 1'37.521 0.295
5 Australia Jack Miller KTM 1'37.549 0.323
6 Italy Enea Bastianini Ducati 1'37.584 0.358
7 Spain Maverick Viñales Aprilia 1'37.598 0.372
8 Italy Marco Bezzecchi Ducati 1'37.616 0.390
9 Italy Luca Marini Ducati 1'37.622 0.396
10 France Johann Zarco Ducati 1'37.880 0.654
11 France Fabio Quartararo Yamaha 1'37.920 0.694
12 Spain Aleix Espargaro Aprilia 1'38.136 0.910

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