Marquez takes first MotoGP pole in three years at wet Motegi

Marc Marquez. Picture:

Marc Marquez has taken his first pole position since the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix on a qualifying day at the 2022 event which was disrupted by a major thunderstorm.

The Repsol Honda rider will be joined on the front row by Prima Pramac Ducati’s Johann Zarco and Red Bull KTM’s Brad Binder, while none of the title contenders could do any better than sixth, and the Ducati Lenovo Team’s Jack Miller took seventh after topping a dry Free Practice 1 on the afternoon prior.

Rain lashed Motegi during Moto2 qualifying, which caused the third and final free practice session for the premier class to be abandoned in order to fit in the two sessions which would decide the MotoGP grid.

The track was still wet for Qualifying 2 despite the showers having eased off, and Marquez was second-quickest on a time of 1:55.810s even with a mistake on his second flying lap.

He was first with a 1:55.698s next time through and then set a 1:55.214s inside the final three minutes, but Zarco, who came from Qualifying 1, remained a threat.

The Frenchman improved to a 1:55.422s just before the chequered flag before running wide on his final lap, but then attention turned to Binder.

The South African was faster than Marquez in the first two sectors but ultimately broke the beam in a time of 1:55.537s, missing pole but clinching a career-first front row start.

For Marquez, the pole is his first in 1071 days, before the horror crash at Jerez in 2020, and thus also the first since his latest arm operation in June.

Row 2 at Motegi will be Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing), Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Ducati), and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing), the latter of whom is third in the championship and went as fast as a 1:55.771s in Q2.

Miller very nearly dropped his Desmosedici before setting a 1:55.784s, while Miguel Oliveira did indeed crash his Red Bull KTM after setting a 1:55.895s which saw him end up eight.

Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) was ninth on a 1:56.326s with his nearest rival for the title, Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team), last in Q2 on a 1:57.373s and hence 12th on the starting grid.

To Bagnaia’s side for the start will be Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Ducati) in 10th and Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda), who had an awkward crash in the FP2 session in which Marquez was also fastest, in 11th.

Enea Bastianini (Gresini Ducati), who won six days ago at Aragon and is fourth in the championship, looked unlikely to advance from Q1 even before he crashed at Turn 5 for the second day in a row.

He lost two more positions after that spill and is set to line up 15th on Sunday afternoon, with Remy Gardner 20th and Tech3 KTM team-mate Raul Fernandez 22nd.

Race start at Motegi is scheduled for Sunday at 16:00 AEST.

Qualifying: Japanese MotoGP

Pos Num Rider Nat Team Bike Time Gap 1st/prev Session
1 93 Marc MARQUEZ ESP Repsol Honda Team Honda 1:55.214   Q2
2 5 Johann ZARCO FRA Prima Pramac Racing Ducati 1:55.422 0.208/0.208 Q2
3 33 Brad BINDER RSA Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 1:55.537 0.323/0.115 Q2
4 12 Maverick VIÑALES ESP Aprilia Racing Aprilia 1:55.620 0.406/0.083 Q2
5 89 Jorge MARTIN ESP Prima Pramac Racing Ducati 1:55.686 0.472/0.066 Q2
6 41 Aleix ESPARGARO ESP Aprilia Racing Aprilia 1:55.771 0.557/0.085 Q2
7 43 Jack MILLER AUS Ducati Lenovo Team Ducati 1:55.784 0.570/0.013 Q2
8 88 Miguel OLIVEIRA POR Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 1:55.895 0.681/0.111 Q2
9 20 Fabio QUARTARARO FRA Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 1:56.326 1.112/0.431 Q2
10 10 Luca MARINI ITA Mooney VR46 Racing Team Ducati 1:56.354 1.140/0.028 Q2
11 44 Pol ESPARGARO ESP Repsol Honda Team Honda 1:57.354 2.140/1.000 Q2
12 63 Francesco BAGNAIA ITA Ducati Lenovo Team Ducati 1:57.373 2.159/0.019 Q2
13 72 Marco BEZZECCHI ITA Mooney VR46 Racing Team Ducati 1:55.934 0.634 Q1
14 21 Franco MORBIDELLI ITA Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 1:56.006 0.706/0.072 Q1
15 23 Enea BASTIANINI ITA Gresini Racing MotoGP Ducati 1:56.130 0.830/0.124 Q1
16 49 Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO ITA Gresini Racing MotoGP Ducati 1:56.432 1.132/0.302 Q1
17 73 Alex MARQUEZ ESP LCR Honda CASTROL Honda 1:56.578 1.278/0.146 Q1
18 42 Alex RINS ESP Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Suzuki 1:56.656 1.356/0.078 Q1
19 45 Tetsuta NAGASHIMA JPN HRC Team Honda 1:57.229 1.929/0.573 Q1
20 87 Remy GARDNER AUS Tech3 KTM Factory Racing KTM 1:57.288 1.988/0.059 Q1
21 85 Takuya TSUDA JPN Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Suzuki 1:57.787 2.487/0.499 Q1
22 25 Raul FERNANDEZ ESP Tech3 KTM Factory Racing KTM 1:57.827 2.527/0.040 Q1
23 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW GBR WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team Yamaha 1:58.115 2.815/0.288 Q1
24 40 Darryn BINDER RSA WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team Yamaha 1:58.292 2.992/0.177 Q1
25 30 Takaaki NAKAGAMI JPN LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda 1:58.717 3.417/0.425 Q1

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