Bagnaia bags pole for MotoGP opener, Miller fifth
Sunday 28th March, 2021 - 10:00am
Francesco Bagnaia will start the Grand Prix of Qatar from pole position after setting a record-breaking 1:52.772s in qualifying for the Ducati Lenovo Team.
A blistering session saw the top eight riders all go under the local lap record at the Losail International Circuit.
It’s the first time Bagnaia has taken pole position in the premier class.
Monster Energy Yamaha duo Fabio Quartararo and Maverick Viñales occupied second and third, two and three tenths off the pace of Bagnaia respectively.
Despite a move out of the factory team and to the satellite Petronas Yamaha SRT, Valentino Rossi had a strong showing with fourth in qualifying.
Having been a pacesetter in the early phase of the weekend, Jack Miller was fifth for the Ducati Lenovo Team, ending the session 0.4s off the pace of his team-mate Bagnaia.
Pramac Racing newcomer Johan Zarco was sixth ahead of (Petronas Yamaha SRT’s Franco Morbidelli.
Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) and Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) were eighth and ninth, while last year’s champion Joan Mir was only 10th for Team Suzuki Ecstar.
Mir had to partake in Q1, facing stiff opposition from Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) and Enea Bastianini (Esponsorama Racing) who both took turns leading the session.
Martin was on a flier late in the session, but fell off his bike in the last sector.
Japanese rider Takaaki Nakagami of LCR Honda Idemitsu shot to the top on his last lap to break into Q2, Mir’s last effort which put him 0.005s ahead of Bastianini enough to progress as well.
Bagnaia wasted no time in Q2, breaking the lap record on his first flying lap, setting a 1:53.273s.
However, it wasn’t long before the rest of the field lit up the timing screen, team-mate Miller shooting to the top.
Quartararo spent some time at the top of the tree, once again resetting the lap record and coming ever closer to the 1minute52second bracket, clocking a 1:53.038s on the YZR-M1.
The final stanza of the session saw the benchmark lowered even further, Viñales making it a Yamaha one-two before Bagnaia set his best last of the weekend, a 1:52.772s, to take pole.
While Bagnaia improved on his last effort, stable-mate Miller would not, ensuring he would stay fifth in the pecking order.
The opening race of the MotoGP season gets underway tomorrow at 04:00 AEDT.
Qualifying: Qatar MotoGP
|1||63||Francesco BAGNAIA||ITA||Ducati Lenovo Team||Ducati||1’52.772||Q2|
|2||20||Fabio QUARTARARO||FRA||Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||1’53.038||0.266 / 0.266|
|3||12||Maverick VIÑALES||SPA||Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||1’53.088||0.316 / 0.050|
|4||46||Valentino ROSSI||ITA||Petronas Yamaha SRT||Yamaha||1’53.114||0.342 / 0.026|
|5||43||Jack MILLER||AUS||Ducati Lenovo Team||Ducati||1’53.215||0.443 / 0.101|
|6||5||Johann ZARCO||FRA||Pramac Racing||Ducati||1’53.286||0.514 / 0.071|
|7||21||Franco MORBIDELLI||ITA||Petronas Yamaha SRT||Yamaha||1’53.313||0.541 / 0.027|
|8||41||Aleix ESPARGARO||SPA||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia||1’53.315||0.543 / 0.002|
|9||42||Alex RINS||SPA||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||Suzuki||1’53.490||0.718 / 0.175|
|10||36||Joan MIR||SPA||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||Suzuki||1’53.682||0.910 / 0.192|
|11||30||Takaaki NAKAGAMI||JPN||LCR Honda IDEMITSU||Honda||1’53.721||0.949 / 0.039|
|12||44||Pol ESPARGARO||SPA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||1’53.930||1.158 / 0.209|
|13||30||Takaaki NAKAGAMI||JPN||LCR Honda IDEMITSU||Honda||1’53.577||Q1|
|14||36||Joan MIR||SPA||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||Suzuki||1’53.728||0.151 / 0.151|
|15||23||Enea BASTIANINI||ITA||Esponsorama Racing||Ducati||1’53.733||0.156 / 0.005|
|16||89||Jorge MARTIN||SPA||Pramac Racing||Ducati||1’53.840||0.263 / 0.107|
|17||88||Miguel OLIVEIRA||POR||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||1’53.915||0.338 / 0.075|
|18||73||Alex MARQUEZ||SPA||LCR Honda CASTROL||Honda||1’53.958||0.381 / 0.043|
|19||6||Stefan BRADL||GER||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||1’53.995||0.418 / 0.037|
|20||10||Luca MARINI||ITA||SKY VR46 Esponsorama||Ducati||1’54.122||0.545 / 0.127|
|21||33||Brad BINDER||RSA||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||1’54.240||0.663 / 0.118|
|22||9||Danilo PETRUCCI||ITA||Tech 3 KTM Factory Racing||KTM||1’54.443||0.866 / 0.203|
|23||27||Iker LECUONA||SPA||Tech 3 KTM Factory Racing||KTM||1’54.627||1.050 / 0.184|
|24||32||Lorenzo SAVADORI||ITA||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia||1’55.183||1.606 / 0.556|