Alex Marquez takes pole in wet-dry Argentina MotoGP qualifying

Alex Marquez. Picture:

Alex Marquez. Picture:

Alex Marquez snatched pole position at the Argentina MotoGP after his slick tyres gamble paid off on a damp but drying track at Termas de Rio Hondo.

The Spaniard had topped Q1 by 0.068s from Fabio Quartararo to seal his place in Q2, and the Gresini Ducati rider made it count as he mastered the tricky conditions for pole with a 1:43.881s – surviving a huge slide out of the final corner on a tense last lap.

Marquez was 0.172s ahead of Marco Bezzecchi (VR46 Ducati), with world champion Francesco Bagnaia rounding out the front row on the Lenovo Ducati after all three gambled correctly on dry tyres for their final attack.

It was an eventful day for Marquez, who was earlier caught out by the conditions on his last lap in Q1 at Turn 13. He remounted his machine but the bike caught fire and had to be extinguished by the marshals.

Marquez, though, shrugged the incident off and produced an excellent display in Q2 to head up the front row for the Sprint race and Sunday’s race in Argentina.

Franco Morbidelli, who stuck with wets, held provisional pole until the dying seconds. The Monster Energy Yamaha rider was bumped down to fourth, two seconds down on Marquez.

Team-mate Quartararo will be disappointed with 10th on the grid after sealing his place in the Q2 shootout with Marquez.

Aprilia’s Maverick Viñales, second-fastest in the dry behind team-mate Aleix Espargaro in Friday practice, was fifth, while Row 2 was completed by Frenchman Johann Zarco (Pramac Ducati), who had set the early pace at the start of Q2.

Luca Marini (VR46 Ducati), Jorge Martin (Pramac Ducati) and last year’s race winner Espargaro – fastest on Friday for Aprilia – were seventh, eighth and ninth respectively.

LCR Honda duo Takaaki Nakagami and Alex Rins completed the top 12 behind Quartararo.

Australia’s Jack Miller could only manage 16th after failing to break out of Q1. His Red Bull KTM team-mate, Brad Binder, was one place ahead in 15th.

Joan Mir will start from 18th and last on the Repsol Honda and is joined on the final row by rookie Augusto Fernandez (GASGAS Tech3 KTM).

Four riders are missing at this weekend’s second round, including Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda), Pol Espargaro (GasGas Tech3), Enea Bastianini (Lenovo Ducati) and Miguel Oliveira (RNF Aprilia), who sustained injuries in the season-opener at Portimao in Portugal.

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