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Qualifying report

MotoGP Qatar GP: Martin snatches pole, Marquez sixth for Ducati debut

Jorge Martin obliterated the Losail International Circuit lap record to claim pole for MotoGP’s season opening Qatar Grand Prix, as Marc Marquez qualified sixth for his Ducati debut.

Jorge Martin, Pramac Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Pramac rider Martin posted a sensational 1m50.789s flying lap on his first run in Saturday’s afternoon qualifying session to take the spot by 0.083 seconds over the Aprilia of Aleix Espargaro.

The Spanish rider, runner-up in the championship to Francesco Bagnaia last year, was on course to better his time on his final effort but his lap was cancelled due to yellow flags deployed in response to a crash for KTM’s Brad Binder.

Although Martin’s original time was two tenths quicker than what Bagnaia had managed in much more favourable conditions during last month’s pre-season test in Qatar, it appeared it wouldn't be good enough for pole position as the riders returned to the track for their second runs.

Indeed, Bagnaia himself was a tenth up on Martin’s time going into the final sector, but a mistake coming out of Turn 15 left him wide and cost him a significant chunk of time, even as his lap was counted towards qualifying.

That left Espargaro as the closest challenger to Martin, with Enea Bastianini on the other factory Ducati claiming the final spot on the front row with a time of 1m50.875s - just 0.003s slower than his Aprilia rival.

Binder was able to get himself up to fourth and ahead of Bagnaia before his late crash, with the latter unable to improve on his 1m50.928s effort in the final moments of qualifying.

Competing in his first race weekend on the Gresini Ducati, six-time MotoGP champion Marc Marquez put in a solid effort to end up sixth and the last of the riders to breach the 1m51s barrier in qualifying.

Last year’s Qatar GP winner Fabio Di Giannantonio was next up on the VR46 Ducati, as just 0.230s separated the top seven riders in Q2.

Marc Marquez, Gresini Racing

Marc Marquez, Gresini Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Tech3 GasGas rookie Pedro Acosta couldn’t replicate the pace he showed on Friday, but still finished a solid eighth in his first MotoGP qualifying, beating the Gresini Ducati of final practice pacesetter Alex Marquez.

He was followed by the second factory Aprilia of Maverick Vinales, KTM rider Jack Miller and Trackhouse Racing’s Raul Fernandez - the last two making their way through from the opening leg of qualifying.

LCR’s Johann Zarco was the first rider not to make it to the second part of the qualifying, the Frenchman missing the Q2 cut just one hundredth of a second to Miller as the top Honda runner.

He will head the fifth row of the grid, where he will be joined by Trackhouse Aprilia’s Miguel Oliveira and VR46 Ducati rider Marco Bezzecchi.

Fabio Quartararo could only manage the 15th fastest time in what was a frustrating session for Yamaha, with new team-mate Alex Rins ending up 20th after dragging his M1 back to the garage with what appeared to be a mechanical issue late on in Q1.

Factory Honda rider Joan Mir lost the front end of his RC213V at the final corner with a minute to go in Q1, leaving him 17th on the grid for the opening round of the season.

Team-mate Luca Marini, polesitter in Qatar last November on the VR46 Ducati, had an even more miserable outing as he ended up in 21st position, only beating the Pramac bike of a recovering Franco Morbidelli.

MotoGP Qatar GP qualifying results

Q2

   
1
 - 
5
   
   
1
 - 
2
   
Cla Rider # Bike Laps Time Interval km/h Speed Trap
1 Spain J. Martin Pramac Racing 89 Ducati 6

1'50.789

  174.818 347
2 Spain A. Espargaro Aprilia Racing Team 41 Aprilia 6

+0.083

1'50.872

0.083 174.687 342
3 Italy E. Bastianini Ducati Team 23 Ducati 7

+0.086

1'50.875

0.003 174.683 345
4 South Africa B. Binder Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 33 KTM 5

+0.124

1'50.913

0.038 174.623 349
5 Italy F. Bagnaia Ducati Team 1 Ducati 7

+0.139

1'50.928

0.015 174.599 343
6 Spain M. Marquez Gresini Racing 93 Ducati 6

+0.172

1'50.961

0.033 174.547 346
7 Italy F. Di Giannantonio Team VR46 49 Ducati 7

+0.230

1'51.019

0.058 174.456 346
8 Spain P. Acosta Tech 3 31 KTM 7

+0.341

1'51.130

0.111 174.282 351
9 Spain A. Marquez Gresini Racing 73 Ducati 6

+0.477

1'51.266

0.136 174.069 342
10 Spain M. Viñales Aprilia Racing Team 12 Aprilia 6

+0.517

1'51.306

0.040 174.006 343
11 Australia J. Miller Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 43 KTM 6

+0.551

1'51.340

0.034 173.953 348
12 Spain R. Fernández Trackhouse Racing Team 25 Aprilia 4

+0.732

1'51.521

0.181 173.671 346

Q1

   
1
 - 
5
   
   
1
 - 
2
   
Cla Rider # Bike Laps Time Interval km/h Speed Trap
1 Spain R. Fernández Trackhouse Racing Team 25 Aprilia 5

1'51.436

  173.803 345
2 Australia J. Miller Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 43 KTM 6

+0.090

1'51.526

0.090 173.663 347
3 France J. Zarco Team LCR 5 Honda 6

+0.101

1'51.537

0.011 173.646 343
4 Portugal M. Oliveira Trackhouse Racing Team 88 Aprilia 6

+0.129

1'51.565

0.028 173.602 345
5 Italy M. Bezzecchi Team VR46 72 Ducati 7

+0.428

1'51.864

0.299 173.138 345
6 France F. Quartararo Yamaha Factory Racing 20 Yamaha 6

+0.482

1'51.918

0.054 173.055 348
7 Spain J. Mir Repsol Honda Team 36 Honda 5

+0.590

1'52.026

0.108 172.888 345
8 Spain A. Fernandez Tech 3 37 KTM 6

+0.768

1'52.204

0.178 172.614 347
9 Japan T. Nakagami Team LCR 30 Honda 7

+0.792

1'52.228

0.024 172.577 345
10 Spain A. Rins Yamaha Factory Racing 42 Yamaha 4

+0.891

1'52.327

0.099 172.425 345
11 Italy L. Marini Repsol Honda Team 10 Honda 6

+1.516

1'52.952

0.625 171.471 343
12 Italy F. Morbidelli Pramac Racing 21 Ducati 6

+1.544

1'52.980

0.028 171.428 343

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