Bagnaia bags pole for MotoGP opener, Miller fifth

Francesco “Pecco” Bagnaia

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

Pos Num Rider Nat Team Bike Time Diff/Gap
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

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