A last gasp effort from world champion Marc Marquez secured a surprise pole position for the season opening Qatar Grand Prix.
The Spaniard, who is still recovering from a broken leg, had struggled for pace in free practice, but the motorcycle sensation dug deep to produce a 1.54.507s lap time to deny Gresini Honda’s Alvaro Bautista from taking pole.
Monster Yamaha’s Bradley Smith completed the front row in third, which represented the Brit’s best MotoGP qualifying performance of his career.
Forward Yamaha’s Aleix Espargaro went into the session as favourite to snare pole position after completing a clean sweep in practice.
However, the Spaniard suffered two falls in qualifying, one occurred while on a lap which would have secured pole. As a result, he will start from ninth on the grid.
Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso was fourth fastest just 0.137s adrift of Marquez’s time. The Italian is joined on row two by Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo and Honda’s Dani Pedrosa. LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl was seventh.
After coming through Q1, Cal Crutchlow posted the eighth fastest time as he prepares for his first Grand Prix as a works Ducati rider.
Nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi rounded out the top 10, while Australia’s Broc Parkes was 19th quickest.
In Moto3, Queensland’s Jack Miller will start from third on the gird after just missing out on pole by two tenths of second.
”The qualifying session went really well, but I think it could have been better, because during my final laps I was faced with a lot of traffic,” said Miller.
“With new tyres the bike was fine and I could do consistent lap times without a slipstream. I’ve not been able to lower my lap more, but I was always riding alone and this will help us in the race.”
Qualifying – MotoGP – Qatar
|2||Alvaro Bautista||Gresini Honda||1m54.564s||+0.057s|
|3||Bradley Smith||Tech 3 Yamaha||1m54.601s||+0.094s|
|7||Stefan Bradl||LCR Honda||1m54.871s||+0.364s|
|9||Aleix Espargaro||Forward Yamaha||1m54.986s||+0.479s|
|11||Andrea Iannone||Pramac Ducati||1m55.127s||+0.620s|
|12||Pol Espargaro||Tech 3 Yamaha||1m55.152s||+0.645s|
|13||Nicky Hayden||Aspar Honda||1m55.894s||Q1|
|14||Colin Edwards||Forward Yamaha||1m56.042s||Q1|
|15||Hiroshi Aoyama||Aspar Honda||1m56.479s||Q1|
|16||Scott Redding||Gresini Honda||1m56.555s||Q1|
|17||Yonny Hernandez||Pramac Ducati||1m56.648s||Q1|
|18||Karel Abraham||Cardion Honda||1m56.715s||Q1|
|19||Hector Barbera||Avintia FTR-Kawasaki||1m57.006s||Q1|
|20||Danilo Petrucci||Ioda Aprilia||1m57.513s||Q1|
|21||Broc Parkes||PBM Aprilia||1m57.574s||Q1|
|22||Mike di Meglio||Avintia FTR-Kawasaki||1m57.667s||Q1|
|23||Michael Laverty||PBM Aprilia||1m58.254s||Q1|