Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) stormed to a phenomenal first pole position of the season under the glorious lights of Lusail International Circuit, beating 2021 Rookie of the Year rival Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) to the top by 0.147s at the Grand Prix of Qatar. It’s Martin’s fifth pole and second in Doha, and the best MotoGP™ qualifying for Bastianini. It also continues a seven-strong qualifying sequence for Ducati, with Borgo Panigale machinery having taken pole every race since Aragon last season.
Eight-time World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) lines up in P3, with the top three in the 2021 Championship – Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™), Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) and Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) – all off the front two rows.
Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) pinched top spot ahead of Quartararo after the Frenchman just got shuffled out at the out of FP3. The South African had already sat inside the Q2 places, but his seventh and final lap saw him move ahead of the reigning World Champion with a 1:53.512 and increase the tension.
Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) had been in the red as he posted a time attack, but unfortunately for the Frenchman, he passed through the yellow flags after Darryn Binder (WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP™ Team) crashed at Turn 2 and his lap was cancelled. Quartararo also lost a lap, but his to a moment that saw his foot off the peg, although he improved next time round.
There were also late attempts from Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and rookie Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team), but neither could quite find those few extra tenths to get themselves into the top two on the timesheets.
Shadowing 2020 World Champion Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Marc Marquez set the first benchmark time – a 1:53.566 – but he wouldn’t stay top for long. Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) emerged as the pacesetter after the first runs were completed, and the Australian was less than a tenth clear of a different Repsol Hodna: Pol Espargaro. Martin was third, Marc Marquez fourth and Bastianini P5 ahead of the final push.
Tensions were high under the lights heading into the final six minutes, all set for the first pole position battle of the season. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) and Marc Marquez were first to emerge back out of pitlane, the latter getting his RC213V hooked onto the back of Pecco’s GP22. Halfway around the lap, Pecco was 0.018s under teammate Miller’s time, and Marc Marquez just 0.015s off. The tables turned through the third split as Marquez was a tenth quicker than provisional pole, and Pecco half a tenth. At the line, it remained so and it was Marquez who went pole by 0.128s, with the number 63 forced to settled for second.
It wasn’t over though, with red sectors galore on the timing screens – Miller, Pol Espargaro and Martin were all on fire, as well as Bastianini and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing). Tucked up behind the Repsol Honda of Espargaro, Martin leapt to P1, with Miller going third and Brad Binder slotting into P4.
Attention then turned to Mir and Pol Espargaro, with neither able to challenge the front row, but Bastianini was on course to. Keeping it together, the ‘Beast’ just missed out on pole but takes second his first front row. That means it’s a sophomore 1-2 with Martin leading Bastianini, and Marquez in third. Martin also makes it three poles in a row for Ducati at Losail – the last two of which are his – and seven poles in a row for Ducati overall.
Miller was shuffled off the front row after Bastianini’s late time but the Aussie makes it three Ducatis in the top four, with Aleix Espargaro bagging a top five for Aprilia. Younger brother Pol Espargaro lines up alongside in P6, with Brad Binder coming through Q1 to bag P7.
Mir is the leading Suzuki in P8. The Hamamatsu factory have looked like the team to beat but Mir and Free Practice 2 pacesetter Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) had a quieter Saturday in P8 and P10 respectively, with Bagnaia sandwiched between the two and also looking for more on Sunday.
So where are Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™? Quartararo starts his title defence in 11th, and that’s one place ahead of teammate Franco Morbidelli as Lusail’s most successful manufacturer looks to turn things around on race day.
The Martinator takes the first MotoGP™ pole position of the season, as we now get set for race day under the lights. Tune into the premier class race at 18:00 local time (GMT+3) to see who rises highest in the desert, with the stage set for another stunning showdown.
Front two rows of the grid for the Repsol Honda Team in Lusail
Marc Marquez, third, and Pol Espargaro, sixth, will start the Qatar Grand Prix from the first and second rows of the grid as the Repsol Honda Team look to start 2022 in fighting style.
The steady upward trajectory of the new Repsol Honda Team RC213V continued on Saturday in Qatar, both Marc Marquez and Pol Espargaro able to consistently challenge for the top five in every session. Even with Lusail’s changeable conditions due to the time, weather, wind and sand, the pairing were able to keep the pace. Thanks to a strong Friday evening showing, Marquez and Espargaro were able to progress directly into Q2.
Marc Marquez returns to the front row of the grid for the first time since the 2021 Americas GP, where he also qualified third. 2013, his rookie season in the premier class, was the only occasion that Marquez has missed starting on the front row of the grid while racing in Qatar. Having put together a productive Free Practice 4, Marquez and his team have a good indication of what to expect on Sunday when the lights go out and will use Saturday evening and Sunday’s Warm Up to confirm a few final points. The #93 is no stranger to close racing under the floodlights and is ready to do it all again tomorrow.
Pol Espargaro’s Qualifying results picked up where they left off in 2021 as the #44 was back inside the top six. As always, the MotoGP class was split by the narrowest of margins and Espargaro missed out on the front row by less than 0.1s. Under half a second divided the entire top ten in Q2 when the flag came out. A mistake in the final sector left Espargaro wanting more and he’s ready to fight from the start having shown great speed through sectors one and two during practice. Even with the mistake, sixth place shows the great improvements made by HRC and Espargaro, who qualified 12th for the opening race of the year. Battling at the front and making the most of this first race is Espargaro’s objective for what is sure to be an exciting race.
Tomorrow’s 22-lap race will officially open the year and is scheduled to start at 18:00 Local Time, just after the sun sets.
“It’s important to start in the front two rows of the grid and this was the goal for today. Qatar is not one of the best circuits for my style but thanks to a step we made in Free Practice 4 I have been feeling better. I’m happy but tomorrow is the most important day and we are not the fastest guy out there at the moment. Of course there’s still time to work and we will try to manage everything well. Our FP4 pace is close and the track can change a lot here with the wind, the sand and humidity. Let’s see what happens on Sunday, I am excited!”
“Speaking honestly, it’s a shame to be so close to the front row and just miss out. But we have to look at the bigger picture, I made a mistake and still we are this close to the front row still. It shows the progress we are making but starting on the front two rows is good. These top six positions are where you need to be at the start of the race. Apart from this it was a very good day, I was calm and didn’t get too excited with how we were feeling on the bike. We’ve made the first step of the year and tomorrow we will see what will unfold in the race, anything can still happen.”
MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA MOTOGP TO START QATAR GP FROM FOURTH ROW
Losail (Qatar), 5th March 2022
GRAND PRIX OF QATAR
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Fabio Quartararo went through Q1 to join teammate Franco Morbidelli in today‘s Q2 sessions. They will start tomorrow‘s Grand Prix of Qatar from 11th and 12th position respectively.
LOCAL TIME: 18:40 GMT+3
AIR TEMPERATURE: 21°C
TRACK TEMPERATURE: 24°C
WEATHER: NIGHT WINDY / HUMIDITY 75%
MORE CIRCUIT INFO
1’53.635 / 6 LAPS
1’53.982 / 7 LAPS
The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team continued their search for the perfect setting to suit the Losail International Circuit on Day 2 of the Qatar GP weekend. Fabio Quartararo showed a strong pace in Q1 and grabbed second place. In Q2 he struggled to find the same feeling and ended the session in 11th position. Franco Morbidelli was promoted directly into Q2 but wasn‘t able to set the lap he had in mind. He will start the race from 12th place on the grid.
Quartararo missed out on a top-10 place in FP3 and had to take part in Q1. But this only spurred the defending Champion on to dig deeper. He and his crew found an improvement in FP4 that benefitted him in Q1. After his first flying lap, a 1‘53.654, he was in P1 with a 0.126s advantage. He wasn‘t able to improve on this lap, but it was fast enough to keep him in second place, 0.142s from first, seeing him through to Q2.
As the Frenchman had to use a medium rear tyre for his first run in Q2, he set only one hot lap with it before heading back to the garage. With four and a half minutes remaining, he headed back out with a fresh soft rear that allowed him to push more. A 1‘53.635s, set on lap 5/6, briefly put the number-20 rider in eighth place before he dropped back to tenth. Unable to find further improvements, he ended the session in 11th place, 0.624s from first.
Morbidelli let most of the other riders head out ahead of him before joining the 15-minute Q2 shoot-out. He set a 1‘54.283s on his third lap that put him in 10th place. He stayed out for one more try, but he didn‘t find a time improvement and headed into the pits for a quick switch of tyre with six minutes left on the clock.
Two minutes later, the Italian was back on his way. He clocked a fastest time of 1‘53.982s on his sixth and penultimate lap, but it wasn‘t enough to move further up the order. He ended the session in 12th place, 0.971s from pole.
For sure, these were not the qualifying results we were hoping for. We knew it was going to be tricky, but we still expected better results. The pace that both riders showed is definitely better than what their qualifying results suggest. It will be fundamental to have a solid start to the race. The opening lap will be a key point. Based on the race pace we‘ve seen today, there‘s a possibility that we can do a good race. We will use tomorrow‘s Warm Up to decide on the tyres.
The only thing I concern myself with is that I push myself 100% whenever I go out on track. I gave it my all today, and I will do the same tomorrow, at the next round, during this whole season, no matter what the circumstances are. That’s the only way for me to be at the front. So, that’s the only thing on my mind. We just need to make a perfect lap at the start of the race. Last year during the Doha GP, I also came from behind for most of the race, and I was able to overtake. Tomorrow we will try something on the bike, but our pace in general is not so bad. I’m fast, so we will see. I will do my best, but I also need to take care of the tyres, that’s also important here.
Jack Miller and Francesco Bagnaia will start from the second and third rows of the grid respectively at tomorrow’s Qatar GP at the Lusail International Circuit near Doha.
Thanks to the ninth fastest time overall at the end of the first three free practice sessions, Jack secured a spot directly into Q2, during which he immediately took the lead in the first minutes of the session. On his second exit from the pits with the soft tyre, the Australian rider improved again, but his lap time was not enough to ensure him first place, as he eventually dropped back into fourth place, 287 thousandths off the top of the timesheets. Pecco was also able to progress directly to Q2 thanks to the eighth fastest time after FP3, but, in qualifying, the Italian was unable to go under a 1.53.411, finishing ninth, 113 thousandths behind his team-mate.
In the opening Grand Prix of the 2022 MotoGP season scheduled for tomorrow at 18:00 local time (CET +2.00), there will be two Desmosedici GPs starting from the front row. Jorge Martín (Pramac Racing Team) took pole position thanks to a fastest lap in 1:53.011, ahead of fellow Ducati rider Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing), who was second.
Jack Miller (#43 Ducati Lenovo Team) – 4th (1:53.298)
“Our objective today was to improve my feeling on the bike, and we have achieved that. I feel much more comfortable, and I think I’m in a good position for tomorrow’s race. I did a lot of laps in both FP3 and FP4, and my pace is good. This year the level of MotoGP is really high, and anyone can aim for the podium tomorrow. It’s going to be a demanding race, but I’m confident in my potential and ready for it”.
Francesco Bagnaia (#63 Ducati Lenovo Team) – 9th (1:53.411)
“Qualifying, unfortunately, didn’t go as I expected. In testing and over the past few days, we’ve been working with different bike configurations, which has penalized me a little. In FP4, we managed to find a setup that I like, but I didn’t have enough time to get used to it before qualifying. We’ll start from the third row, but I think it won’t be a problem on this track. We’ll see how the race goes tomorrow, but I’m optimistic”.
The Ducati Lenovo Team riders will be back on track tomorrow at 13:40 local time (11:40 Italian time) for the final 20 minutes of warm-up before tackling the first race of the 2022 MotoGP season over a 22-lap distance.