Martin beats Bastianini to bag Qatar pole

Jorge Martin stormed to a phenomenal first pole position of the season under the glorious Grand Prix of Qatar lights, the 2021 Rookie of the Year beating Enea Bastianini by 0.147s with a 1:53.011. Eight-time World Champion Marc Marquez completes the front row in P3.

Unexpectedly, the reigning World Champion found himself in Q1. Fabio Quartararo was the fastest rider out the blocks in qualifying to beat compatriot Johann Zarco by just over a tenth. Brad Binder climbed to P2 on his second flying lap to sit just 0.051s off Quartararo, as the riders dived back into pitlane to get ready for their second time attack. Darryn Binder crashed unhurt at Turn 2 which brought out the yellow flags, as Quartararo ran wide on his third flying attempt. The yellow flags caused Zarco’s time to be cancelled, the double 2021 Qatar podium finisher was out, as Brad Binder went top of the pile with his last attempt. Quartararo slipped to P2 but it was enough to see him head into the Q2 battle.

Shadowing 2020 World Champion Joan Mir, Marc Marquez set the first benchmark time a 1:53.566 but he wouldn’t stay at the top for long. Jack Miller was the pacesetter after the first runs were completed, the Australian was less than a tenth clear of Pol Espargaro, Martin was third, Marc Marquez fourth. Bastianini was occupying P5 as fresh rubber was slotted in. Tensions were high under the lights heading into the final six minutes, as we got ourselves set for the first pole position battle of the season. Francesco Bagnaia and Marc Marquez were first to emerge back out of pitlane, the latter getting his RC213V hooks into the back of Pecco’s GP22. Halfway around the lap, Pecco was 0.018s under teammate Miller’s time – Marc Marquez just 0.015s off. The tables turned through the third split as Marquez was a tenth quicker than provisional pole, Pecco half a tenth. At the line, it was Marquez who went pole by 0.128s ahead of Pecco.

This wasn’t over though, as Miller, Pol Espargaro and Martin were all on fire, as was Bastianini and Aleix Espargaro. Tucked up behind the Repsol Honda of Espargaro, Martin leapt to P1, with Miller going third and Brad Binder slotting into P4. Attention then turned to Mir and Pol Espargaro. Neither went onto the front row though, but Bastianini was on course too. Aleix Espargaro, a little up the road, went P5, before Bastianini pounced to claim P2 his first front row. This meant sophomore duo Martin and Bastianini were P1 and P2 on the grid, with Marc Marquez completing the front row in P3. Jorge Martin sealed pole position with Marc Marquez in P3, but Enea Bastianini’s smile was biggest after taking his first MotoGP front row.

Miller was shuffled off the front row after Bastianini’s late time, the Aussie makes it three Ducatis in the top four, with Aleix Espargaro bagging a top five for Aprilia. Younger brother Pol Espargaro lines up alongside the RS-GP in P6, with Brad Binder coming through Q1 to bag P7. Mir is the leading Suzuki in P8, the Hamamatsu factory have looked like the team to beat but the Spaniard and ninth place Bagnaia have work to do on Sunday. Free Practice 2 pacesetter Alex Rins had a quiet session in P10, with both Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP riders struggling. Quartararo starts his title defence in 11th, one place ahead of teammate Franco Morbidelli. The Martinator takes the first MotoGP pole position of the season, as we now get set for race day under the lights.

Top 10:
1. Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) – 1:53.011
2. Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP) + 0.147
3. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) + 0.272
4. Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) + 0.287
5. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) + 0.308
6. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) + 0.335
7. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) + 0.339
8. Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.396
9. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) + 0.400
10. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.470

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