Marini scores Qatar MotoGP pole, Miller qualifies 16th

Luca Marini has qualified on pole position at the Qatar MotoGP. Image: Mooney VR46 Racing Team X

Luca Marini has qualified on pole position at the Qatar MotoGP. Image: Mooney VR46 Racing Team X

Luca Marini has qualified on pole position at the Qatar MotoGP round while championship title combatants Francesco Bagnaia and Jorge Martin will share Row 2.

Ducatis locked out each of the first two rows, with the VR46 Racing Team’s Marini to be joined at the head of the grid by Gresini Racing team-mates Fabio Di Giannantonio.

The factory Ducati Team’s Bagnaia pipped Martin to fourth, with the latter’s Pramac Racing team-mate Johann Zarco to line up alongside them at the Lusail International Circuit.

Martin had caught Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) on his first flyer in Qualifying 2 and had to bail out of that lap, while Di Giannantonio set the early pace on a 1:52.188s.

Martin strung together a 1:52.536s next time around to sit third at the end of the opening runs, behind Di Giannantonio and Marini, but ahead of Bagnaia in fifth.

When they started the second runs, Di Giannantonio increased his margin by setting a 1:51.829s while Bagnaia moved to second on a 1:52.036s and, in doing so, towed Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) to third place on a 1:52.103s.

In the final minute before the chequered flag, Alex Marquez went second on a 1:51.898s and Martin fourth on a 1:52.058s.

However, with the outright lap record having already been broken in Qualifying 1, Marini took even more time out of it when he blazed to a 1:51.762s having used Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) as a reference.

His effort consigned Marc Marquez to seventh, from Viñales, Raul Fernandez (RNF Aprilia), Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing), Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM), and Augusto Fernandez (GasGas Tech3).

Earlier, in Qualifying 1, Zarco and Alex Marquez got through, while traffic played a part in others’ downfalls.

Zarco had set the fastest first flyer, a 1:53.069s, and that was still the benchmark when the first runs came to an end.

Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha) sat second on a 1:53.207s, while Takaaki Nakagami had crashed his LCR Honda at Turn 14.

Fabio Quartararo had survived an early front-end moment on his Monster Energy Yamaha before he jumped to the top on a 1:52.524s with three minutes to go.

He dropped to second almost immediately when Alex Marquez followed him across the stripe to set a 1:52.889s and was relegated out of the Q2 places a minute later when Zarco clocked a 1:52.382s.

That was how the top two would remain, with Marco Bezzecchi (VR46 Ducati) taking third for the session and hence 13th on the grid, one position ahead of Quartararo.

Enea Bastianini (Ducati Team) qualified 15th all-told after being held up by Iker Lecuona (LCR Honda) when on a lap which looked like elevating him to the top of the Q1 timesheet.

It was a somewhat similar tale for Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM), who ended up 16th on the grid after being quicker than Zarco to the first sector before he was baulked by Miguel Oliveira (RNF Aprilia).

Miller is set to share Row 6 with Oliveira and Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha), with the rest of the grid being Pol Espargaro (GasGas Tech3), Joan Mir (Repsol Honda), Lecuona, and Nakagami.

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