Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) bounced back from a broken leg just six weeks ago to secure the first pole of the season at the Losail circuit in Qatar with a time of 1’54.507, marking his 10th MotoGP career pole, from 19 starts in the class.
Marc Marquez: “I’m really happy and this pole position is a special one for me, because after coming back from injury it gives me a boost in confidence. In any case, we know that tomorrow is the day that counts and it’s in the race that points are decided, so we have to be very focused.
“It is going to be a very tough for me physically, because I don’t have much strength in my leg and I have to compensate with my right arm. We are happy with how today went and seem to have found a good setup, with just a few details still to refine in tomorrow’s warmup. It will be difficult, because many riders have pace within a tenth of each other, but we shall try to have a good race”
Alvaro Bautista put in a strong performance and will start from second spot on the grid. The Honda Go&Fun rider posted a 1’54.564 in the closing minutes of Q2, just being pushed from pole by World Champion Marquez.
Alvaro Bautista: “I’m really happy, for me it’s like a pole position. I just lost the pole position by a few thousandths of a second. But I usually suffer a lot at this track and now I can enjoy it and I’m feeling good on the bike,” he reflected on just missing pole.”
Bradley Smith claimed his first ever MotoGP front row start. The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider recovered well from a big highside in FP3, to post a 1’54.901 time in Q2, taking third place on the grid.
Brad Smith: “In the first run we strung two really solid laps together. In the second run me, (Aleix )Espargaro and Marc were playing a bit of cat and mouse. I didn’t want to risk anything as I felt the tyres had already gotten cold, so I’m a bit disappointed I didn’t get a second go at it. But I’m pleased to hang onto third position and excited for tomorrow’s race.”
Starting from fourth position will be Andrea Dovizioso, Ducati Team (Desmosedici), followed by Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) and Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa.
Jorge Lorenzo: “We are improving little by little to adapt to the situation. Obviously we are still having problems with the rear grip but we are getting closer to the front top riders. We made a good position for tomorrow; fifth on the grid is good for the start.
“There are six riders within one tenth of a second and the race will be very long so if we can make one step on the bike we can fight for the podium or even a victory, which would be amazing for the circumstances.”
Dani Pedrosa: “The qualifying session was really closely contested today – especially in the final laps. Looking at things objectively, we have a good pace and were able to set a fast lap in the session, even though in the end we qualified sixth by a really narrow margin.
“We’re going to continue to be positive about things, believe in the work that we have been doing here so far this weekend, and tomorrow we’ll give everything that we have to do well at the first race of the season”
Stefan Bradl ( LCR Honda MotoGP), Cal Crutchlow (Ducati Team (Desmosedici), Aleix Espargaro, NGM Forward Racing (Forward Yamaha) and Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) completes the top ten.
1. Marc Marquez ESP Repsol Honda Team (RC213V) 1m 54.507s
2. Alvaro Bautista ESP Go&Fun Honda Gresini (RC213V) 1m 54.564s | +0.057s
3. Bradley Smith GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 (YZR-M1) 1m 54.601s | +0.094s
4. Andrea Dovizioso ITA Ducati Team (Desmosedici) 1m 54.644s | +0.137s
5. Jorge Lorenzo ESP Movistar Yamaha MotoGP (YZR-M1) 1m 54.661s | +0.154s
6. Dani Pedrosa ESP Repsol Honda Team (RC213V) 1m 54.703s | +0.196s
7. Stefan Bradl GER LCR Honda MotoGP (RC213V) 1m 54.871s | +0.364s
8. Cal Crutchlow GBR Ducati Team (Desmosedici) 1m 54.888s | +0.381s
9. Aleix Espargaro ESP NGM Forward Racing (Forward Yamaha) 1m 54.986s | +0.479s
10. Valentino Rossi ITA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP (YZR-M1) 1m 55.096s | +0.589s
11. Andrea Iannone ITA Pramac Racing (Desmosedici) 1m 55.127s | +0.620s
12. Pol Espargaro ESP Monster Yamaha Tech 3 (YZR-M1) 1m 55.152s | +0.645s
13. Nicky Hayden USA Drive M7 Aspar (RCV1000R) 1m 55.894s
14. Colin Edwards USA NGM Forward Racing (Forward Yamaha) 1m 56.042s
15. Hiroshi Aoyama JPN Drive M7 Aspar (RCV1000R) 1m 56.479s
16. Scott Redding GBR Go&Fun Honda Gresini (RCV1000R) 1m 56.555s
17. Yonny Hernandez COL Pramac Racing (Desmosedici) 1m 56.648s
18. Karel Abraham CZE Cardion AB Motoracing (RCV1000R) 1m 56.715s
19. Hector Barbera ESP Avintia Racing (Avintia) 1m 57.006s
20. Danilo Petrucci ITA IodaRacing Project (ART) 1m 57.513s
21. Broc Parkes AUS Paul Bird Motorsport (PBM-ART) 1m 57.574s
22. Mike Di Meglio FRA Avintia Racing (Avintia) 1m 57.667s
23. Michael Laverty GBR Paul Bird Motorsport (PBM-ART) 1m 58.254s
Moto3 – Jack Miller to start on front row
Battling against the elements in windy conditions Aussie Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Ajo) secured a front row start in third spot while Alex Rins (Estrella Galicia 0,0) starts from pole and team-mate Alex Marquez in second spot.
Miller was 0.4s off the pace but looked threatening as he aims to challenge the dominant Spaniards this year.
The second row comprises Calvo Team colleagues Jakub Kornfeil and Isaac Viñales, alongside Englishman Danny Kent in the new Red Bull Husqvarna Ajo structure. The trio all qualified within a second of Rins.
Arthur Sissis (Mahindra Racing) recovered from a Friday fever to qualify 29th.