Fabio Quartararo lamented a "rookie mistake" after twice crashing at the Dutch TT to see the 2022 MotoGP title race blown wide open again.

The Monster Energy Yamaha rider's lead over Aleix Espargaro at the top of the standings was cut from 34 points to 21 after failing to finish Sunday's race in Assen.

After a near blemish-free season up to this point, reigning world champion Quartararo uncharacteristically clattered into Espargaro early on when pushing for second place.

Both riders ended in the gravel, but whereas Espargaro was able to make up significant ground to finish fourth, Quartararo again came off his bike on lap 12.

He lost grip on his rear tyre and was sent flying over his handlebars in a nasty fall, with this his first MotoGP retirement since Valencia 2020.

Quartararo apologised to Espargaro immediately after the race, which was won by Francesco Bagnaia, and took full blame for the contentious incident.

"I made a rookie mistake. I wanted to push too much from the beginning," he told Canal+. "I apologise to Aprilia and to Aleix for putting him out of the track.

"It's with these mistakes that you learn for the future, but it was a really stupid mistake. We could very well have set a very good pace and fought for the win. 

"These are mistakes that you learn from for the future. I wanted to restart and try to score some points, but I saw that the bike was a problem. 

"I stopped, the team told me to restart in case of rain, but when I restarted, I could see that something was wrong.

"I tried, but I don't know [what happened]. We have to analyse the crash, but I lost the rear a bit abruptly, so we'll see what they say. I made a rookie mistake."

Despite seeing his lead cut, Quartararo still holds a healthy advantage at the top of the riders' standings heading into the five-week break.

Espargaro produced the ride of the day – and one of the best individual rides of the season – to recover from 15th after being sent off the track by his title rival.

The Aprilia rider overtook Jack Miller and Brad Binder on the final lap to finish just outside the podium places, but he could not make a serious dent in Quartararo's title lead. 

"I was very strong in that place, and Fabio knew it," Espargaro said of the early collision. "The reason Fabio did his movement is because his feeling with the bike is super-high. 

"We saw it also in Germany, corner one with [the overtake on Bagnaia]. He's not a dirty rider, but his confidence is that high.

"Today, it's not that he was arrogant. But because he felt super, a lot faster than the rest, he made a bad judgment.

"I knew this could happen. From this moment I said to myself – Fabio is almost perfect, he made no mistakes during the season, so if he makes one mistake you have to profit."

Ducati's poleman Bagnaia led from the start to move back to within 66 points of Quartararo with nine rounds to go.

The Italian, who is fourth in the championship, now has three wins and three retirements in his past six races.

Bagnaia never looked like relinquishing first place to Marco Bezzecchi, although he admitted to being "terrified" of a third DNF in a row when rain hit late on in the Netherlands.

"Looking at the gap with Bezzecchi, he was always catching," Bagnaia said. "I had to push again, I had to open this gap again to be smarter and more calm again later in the race.

"But then the rain came. When I saw the rain, I just slowed down a bit, but Bezzecchi was pushing again.

"So, it was very difficult. I was terrified to crash again, so the main thing was to finish the race. It wasn't easy, but I tried to be smart, I tried to not push over the limit."

Fabio di Giannantonio claimed a stunning maiden MotoGP pole in his home race at the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello on Saturday. 

The rookie Gresini rider snatched pole as rainy conditions hovered over the Mugello circuit, leading an Italian front three on the grid with Valentino Rossi duo Marco Bezzecchi and Luca Marini was halted due to a red flag.

Initial spots of rain prompted the field to venture out on rain tyres expect Brad Binder, who gambled and lapped almost three seconds quicker, forcing the rest to return to the pits for slicks.

Di Giannantonio took chances on the testy Mugello circuit, sticking his 2021-spec Gresini on pole with a time of 1:46.156, and his response post-qualifying was naturally one of excitement.

"It’s one thing unimaginable, since you arrive right here in Mugello and anticipate to do a superb outcome for all of the individuals who come for you, who cheer for you, all of the help that you’ve got right here in your house race," he said post-qualifying.

"Already using a Ducati MotoGP bike in Mugello is one thing unimaginable, and getting to the pole place is one thing else.

"It was such a fantastic finish of the day for me, and one of many desires of my life is to be high on the grid in MotoGP."

Johann Zarco briefly held provisional pole but had to settle for fourth on his Pramac Ducati, ahead of Francesco Bagnaia on the factory Ducati.

He was followed by reigning world champion Fabio Quartararo, with Aprilia's Aleix Espargaro and LCR Honda's Takaaki Nakagami rounding out the second row.

While Jack Miller missed out on Q2, but qualifying was ultimately marred by a fiery crash for Marc Marquez, who had a big highside at Luco.

PROVISIONAL GRID

1. Fabio di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing) 1:46.156
2. Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46) +0.088s
3. Luca Marini (Mooney VR46) +0.171s
4. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) +0.227s
5. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) +0.315s
6. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) +0.350s
7. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) +0.351s
8. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda) +0.405s
9. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda) +0.511s
10. Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing) +0.523s

Francesco Bagnaia secured another lap record and so another pole position at the French Grand Prix on Saturday, this time leading a Ducati one-two ahead of Jack Miller.

Bagnaia had ended defending MotoGP champion Fabio Quartararo's sequence of four consecutive poles last time out at the Grand Prix of Spain, setting a Jerez record.

The Italian protected that position to win for the first time this season and will hope to repeat the feat at Le Mans, where he was again dominant in qualifying.

Bagnaia's time of 1:30.450 edged out Miller by 0.069 seconds, with Quartararo – looking to become the first home winner in France since 1954 – forced to settle for fourth.

But the Monster Energy Yamaha rider, who again leads the standings, recognises Bagnaia and Ducati are doing something special in qualifying.

Indeed, Bagnaia has a leading eight poles since the start of last season.

"I was disappointed, but two minutes later I was happy," Quartararo said. "On the qualifying, we miss something – all the time, not only in qualifying. 

"Ducati is able to really do something crazy – and the riders, I would not say only Ducati.  

"But we are all the same in the race pace, so it's difficult to really make the difference."

Even so, Bagnaia believes Quartararo will be the man to beat, although he added: "I think after the modification I did in qualifying, I am more close now.

"But it's difficult to say now. The forecast says tomorrow it will rain. I hope it will not be like this, but it looks like it could be."

PROVISIONAL GRID

1. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) 1:30.450
2. Jack Miller (Ducati) +0.069s
3. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) +0.159s
4. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) +0.238s
5. Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing) +0.261s
6. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) +0.413s
7. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) +0.493s
8. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) +0.527s
9. Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) +0.618s
10. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) +0.698s

Francesco Bagnaia was physically ailing during his Grand Prix of Spain victory but believes he is now in the "best shape" on Ducati's 2022 bike.

Bagnaia finished last season with four wins in six races – his first victories in MotoGP – only to make a slow start to the new campaign.

The Ducati man had not reached the podium this year heading into Sunday's race at Jerez, but pole position in qualifying set him up to end that run.

Indeed, Bagnaia led from start to finish, holding off defending champion and season leader Fabio Quartararo.

It was not as comfortable a ride as it may have seemed, however, as Bagnaia revealed afterwards he is still dealing with a shoulder injury suffered in a qualifying crash in Portugal.

"I was very worried about the race because this morning in the warm-up I was without painkillers, and I was struggling," he said

"But then Clinica Mobile always has something good to give to you, and that helped me.

"Just the last part of the race was difficult because all the braking is in the right apart from the last corner. Turn 6 was very difficult to stop the bike because it was like someone was putting pressure on my [shoulder], and it was painful."

But having returned to winning ways, Bagnaia heads into the rest of the season on a high.

"For sure we are back in best shape, not physically but in terms of my riding," he added. "I want to get home and recover because I think that today we have finally found what we were missing."

Jorge Martin led the first ever Ducati quintet in a stunning MotoGP qualifying, finishing top of the time sheets at Circuit of the Americas on Saturday.

Martin's pole was enough to set a new all-time MotoGP lap record around COTA, while also keeping his front-row start record in 2022 unblemished.

Jack Miller shot to the top of the order, clearing Ducati factory teammate Francesco Bagnaia and it looked good enough to secure pole for the Australian at the Grand Prix of the Americas.

Enter the qualifying specialist Martin, however, gaining close to two tenths in the final sector on his way to setting a new all-time lap record at COTA by just three thousandths of a second.

Seven-time pole winner at this track and dubbed the King of COTA, Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez made an error on his final lap in Q3, meaning a starting position of ninth – his worst qualifying result in Austin.

Behind the top three of Martin, Miller and Bagnaia to clear out the front row for Ducati was the second Pramac bike of Johann Zarco, who finished over five tenths off Martin's pole time.

Reigning world champion Fabio Quartararo was in a decent rhythm in the early stages of qualifying, but slid his Yamaha off at the penultimate corner.

He was able to get back out onto a second bike, but was nearly sixth tenths off the eventual pace in sixth, the only Yamaha in the top 12 qualifiers.

Pole and race winner at the Argentine Grand Prix last weekend, Aleix Espargaro will be heading from row fourth row in 13th, just missing out on the final qualifying session.

Provisional classification

1. Jorge Martin (Pramac Ducati) 2:02.029
2. Jack Miller (Ducati) +0.003s
3. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) +0.128
4. Johann Zarco (Pramac Ducati) +0.531
5. Enea Bastianini (Gresini Ducati) +0.539
6. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Yamaha) +0.595
7. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) +0.655
8. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) +0.908
9. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) +0.999
10. Takami Nakagami (LCR Honda) +1.015
11. Luca Marini (Mooney Ducati) +1.020
12. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda) +1.057

 

Francesco Bagnaia's late-season rally did not come in time to push Fabio Quartararo all the way for the 2021 MotoGP title, but the Ducati rider's outstanding form has shown him how to compete next year.

Quartararo clinched the championship at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix when second-placed Bagnaia dramatically crashed out.

On Sunday, at the Algarve Grand Prix, Bagnaia – starting from pole for a fifth consecutive race – won while Quartararo crashed.

If not for his untimely previous retirement, the Italian would be still within touching distance of the season leader heading into the final round.

"If I had the win in Misano, today was perfect for me," Bagnaia told a news conference. "But it's not like this."

Bagnaia's result clinched second and also delivered the constructors' championship for Ducati, who now lead the teams' standings, too.

But attention can start to turn towards next year, when Bagnaia will hope to be competitive from the outset.

"I think we didn't lose the championship in Misano," he said. "I lost a lot of points before and I started to be so competitive after some races.

"For sure, it's a really great base for next year. Also we have worked so hard and so well with our bike, so for next year we have a really great base."

Of course, Bagnaia would have to cope with significant pressure if he were to lead the title race from the outset, and he acknowledged riding this week without the championship on the line was an easier experience.

"I didn't change it compared to Misano," he explained. "But in Misano, I was trying to [keep] open the championship but I was knowing that it was very difficult to win it.

"Today, if I had the win in Misano, for sure Quartararo was not crashing. I was racing without the pressure of the championship, so I just did the same thing."

Quartararo took the title from Joan Mir, who is also keen to respond in 2022 after a difficult championship defence.

He finished second on Sunday for the second time this year but has not won a single race and said Suzuki would have to work on a "better base".

For now, Mir was simply delighted to be back in contention on race day, saying: "Honestly, I'm so happy, I'm especially happy for this podium.

"It's not for the result, it's more for the weekend that we did. It was unbelievable. I felt so good from the first moment and I was able to be competitive from FP1.

"Then, as Pecco said, when you feel good with the bike and the base is good, everything came easily. What I needed was a weekend like this one."

Francesco Bagnaia returned to winning ways with a dominant Algarve Grand Prix victory as he closes on the end of his debut season with the Ducati factory team in top form.

Bagnaia was unable to take the MotoGP title race right down to the wire, with Fabio Quartararo clinching the championship last time out when his nearest rival retired.

But Bagnaia has undoubtedly been the form man on the grid from September onwards. Indeed, had he not crashed at the Emilia Romagna GP, the Italian would have had Quartararo firmly in his sights – the new champion went down at Turn 5 with five laps remaining on Sunday, his first error of the season.

Meanwhile, Bagnaia had continued his stunning run of poles with a fifth in succession at Portimao and, as in the first two races in that sequence, protected his position for a third win of the year.

That was enough to seal the constructors' championship for Ducati, who also moved into the lead in the teams' standings as Jack Miller joined Bagnaia on the steps.

The pair both started from the front row and Miller jumped ahead of the pole man into the first corner but then relinquished the lead.

Joan Mir caught Miller, too, while Bagnaia steadily disappeared into the distance, finishing well clear.

Mir held off Miller for his joint-best result of the year, while Alex Marquez also nipped ahead of the second Ducati man when his pace just relented slightly.

Marquez, pursuing a first podium of the year, could not keep Miller at bay, though, and a run of nine races without appearing on the steps ended for the Australian as the grand prix was prematurely brought to a close.

Home hopeful Miguel Oliveira was involved in a nasty crash with Iker Lecuona, prompting a red flag and the end of the race with more than three quarters completed. Both riders were quickly confirmed as conscious.

Francesco Bagnaia and Jack Miller both lauded the impact Casey Stoner had on their rides after the Ducati duo sealed a one-two in qualifying for the Algarve Grand Prix.

Though Fabio Quartararo already has the MotoGP world title sewn up, the rest of the field are still fighting for position and second-placed Bagnaia set a record lap time at Portimao in Q2 on Saturday.

That effort saw the Italian sensationally claim pole position for a fifth straight race. This is the second run of the same rider taking five poles in a row this season after Quartararo also did so.

Miller had provisional pole, but Bagnaia snatched first place on the grid away from his team-mate and then improved to a final time of 1:38.725.

With Stoner a guest of Ducati throughout the weekend, as well as for the Valencia Grand Prix, both Bagnaia and Miller expressed their desire for Ducati to employ a rider coach for next season, with the Australian – who won the MotoGP title in 2007 and 2011 – a prime candidate.

Bagnaia told a news conference: "It could be a nice present from Ducati to have Casey as a coach next year.

"It's a different point of view, he's a legend and it's different to have a coach, because in Ducati we don't have a coach and for me it helps a lot.

"Maybe next year we can have him. But for me today he helped a bit for the last corner, the exit of the last corner, and it was useful."

Miller, a compatriot of Stoner, added: "It's fantastic to have Casey at the last two grands prix.

"He's got a family and lives on another side of the world, so the idea of that working out I think could be too hard logistically and whatnot.

"But I'd be all for it 100 per cent. But like Pecco said, it is really nice, I've worked with spotters on track and he's not a normal spotter – let's say it like that.

"It's Casey Stoner, a legend, one of the best ever. But I think it is something we're missing in our programme and I think it is definitely something we need to look at maybe introducing into the programme.

"I'm not saying we can get Casey, I'm more than happy to have him, but somebody."

Behind the Ducati duo, Joan Mir of Suzuki Ecstar claimed third. Remarkably, it is the first time the Spaniard, who won the title in 2020, will start on the front row in a MotoGP race.

"Maybe starting in the first row it will help to be more in front and have the situation a little bit more under control," said Mir, who expanded on a heated exchange he had with Alex Marquez at the end of the session.

"Well, Alex was following me I think until FP3 in all the sessions, also FP4 and the first exit in qualifying and the second one he was waiting again," he explained.

"If he didn't disturb me then it's not a problem, but in that moment I made the first lap quite slow to warm up the tyres; the lap time was not bad, but I was warming the tyres and I had just one lap left, but then he decided to overtake me on the braking and went wide. 

"That's why I was angry. Alex came to the box to apologise which is something I appreciate. At that moment I was not happy because I could not get the 100 per cent today."

Fabio Quartararo extended his MotoGP championship lead with a fourth win of the season at the Dutch TT on Sunday.

Quartararo got off to a great start from second place on the grid behind Maverick Vinales and engaged in an early battle with Francesco Bagnaia before surging away to victory by a margin of 2.757 seconds in Assen.

The Monster Energy Yamaha rider will head into the summer break with a lead of 34 points, having dominated much of race that finished with team-mate Vinales in second place and Joan Mir third.

Bagnaia crossed the line back in sixth after he was given a long lap penalty, while Johann Zarco, second in the standings, was fourth and Marc Marquez claimed seventh despite starting back in 20th.

Quartararo got off to a lightning start, passing Vinales in a flash, but his lead proved to be short-lived as Bagnaia nipped in front of the Frenchman.

Vinales dropped back to third as Bagnaia, who started in third spot, and Quartararo scrapped it out for the lead.

The order of the front two changed a few times before Quartararo took control, while there was drama when Zarco and Alex Rins touched at Turn 10.

Marquez, the winner in Germany last time out, surged through the field following a rapid start and Valentino Rossi's race ended with a crash with 19 laps to go.

Bagnaia's hopes of catching Quartararo ended when he was penalised with 13 laps to complete and Jack Miller was able to get back on his bike after hitting the deck.

Vinales closed the gap on Quartararo but not enough to trouble the 22-year-old championship leader.

Jack Miller admitted his first MotoGP win in just under five years left him "sobbing like a baby".

The Ducati rider won the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday to finish at the top of the podium for the first time since the Dutch TT at Assen in June 2016.

Miller took the lead early in Jerez and despite being overtaken by Fabio Quartararo he held his nerve in the second half of the race to regain the lead.

Quartararo faded and the Australian passed the chequered flag in first place ahead of Ducati team-mate Francesco Bagnaia with Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) back in third.

"It’s out of this world, honestly. Ever since that chequered flag, ever since turn 12 I’ve been on this rollercoaster and it just keeps going," Miller told BT Sport.

"I’m crying and I’m sobbing like a baby. I don't know, it's too hard to put into words what I feel today.

"Last time I won it was a big old shock in the wet. This one I've definitely worked hard to get this."

Miller said he thought his chances of victory were gone when Frenchman Quartararo overtook him, but his near-perfect ride secured the win.

Quartararo slipped down to finish 13th as he surrendered his place at the top of the world championship to Bagnaia.

Miller added: "When Fabio [Quartararo] got past me I just thought he was going to bolt, he got nearly a second gap but then he plateaued off and started coming back to me so I just had to knuckle down and get past him.

"He began to really drop off as soon as I passed him so I knew then I had to just make my break and get away as quick as possible and try to manage my lead out front.

"It seemed like a tall order at the time as I still had like 12 or 13 laps to go and I was thinking ‘that’s a long time out front by myself’ but I was able to do it.

"I’ve never rode that precise, that good in my whole entire life. I don’t think I’ve done 25 laps in a row like that in my life. So, it’s fantastic to get that."

Jack Miller won the Spanish Grand Prix as the Ducati rider notched his first MotoGP victory since 2016.

The Australian made a superb start to lead and, despite being passed by Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) in the middle stages, he held his nerve in the second half of the race to return to the front.

Miller finished ahead of Ducati team-mate Francesco Bagnaia with Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) in third spot.

Quartararo slipped down to finish 13th as he surrendered his place at the top of the world championship to Bagnaia.

The Frenchman started poorly as he slipped from pole position to fourth as Miller surged ahead, but like the Portuguese Grand Prix last time out he initially recovered.

Quartararo overtook his rivals on the final corner of successive laps to regain the lead before he pulled one-and-a-half seconds clear at the front.

With 11 laps to go, a third consecutive victory seemingly beckoned for Quartararo, but he dropped two seconds on one lap, allowing Miller to seize the advantage.

Miller was able to hold on until the end as he secured his first MotoGP win since the Dutch TT at Assen in June 2016 and his eighth overall.

Quartararo lost further ground as Italian duo Bagnaia with Morbidelli scrapped it out for second, with the former edging it to make it a one-two for Ducati.

Six-time MotoGP champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) returned to the Jerez track where he suffered a broken arm last July –  an injury that kept him out for nine months – and came through unscathed.

Marquez, who had escaped injury in a big fall on Saturday and another accident in warm-up, started the race in 14th spot and eventually ended in ninth in his second race since returning.

Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) claimed fourth place as Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) both secured top-six finishes.

TOP 10

1. Jack Miller (Ducati) 41'05.602
2. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) +1.912
3. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) +2.516
4. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) +3.206
5. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) +4.256
6. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) +5.164
7. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) +5.651
8. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) +7.161
9. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) +10.494
10. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda) +11.776

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Riders

1. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) 66
2. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) 64
3. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) 50
4. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) 49
5. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) 48

Teams

1. Monster Energy Yamaha 114
2. Ducati 105
3. Suzuki Ecstar 72
4. Pramac Racing 65
5. Repsol Honda 40

What's next?

Quartararo will hope for more luck on home turf at the French Grand Prix at Le Mans on May 16.

 

 

Fabio Quartararo overcame a poor start to win a dramatic Portuguese Grand Prix that saw Marc Marquez finish seventh on his long-awaited return.

Marquez said he was ready to "suffer" in his first race since sustaining a season-ending broken arm last July, but the six-time MotoGP champion enjoyed an encouraging comeback after making an early move from sixth to third.

However, it was Quartararo who took the victory, despite dropping down the field from pole position in a pulsating start, after Johann Zarco and Alex Rins crashed out in quick succession at the Algarve International Circuit on Sunday.

Quartararo took over from Zarco as championship leader after sealing back-to-back wins following his triumph in Doha, with Francesco Bagnaia and Joan Mir taking second and third place respectively.

Maverick Vinales could only finish back in 11th place on a great day for Quartararo.

Zarco darted up the inside in a dream start from third on the grid to take the lead from Monster Energy Yamaha rider Quartararo, with Marquez also impressing during the opening laps in Portimao.

Quartararo dropped back to sixth and Marquez caught the back of Mir's Suzuki as he slipped back following a promising beginning to the race.

Rins, who started in second, moved passed Pramac Racing's Zarco in a flash at Turn 13 to hit the front before Jack Miller and Miguel Oliveira - winner on home soil last year - crashed out.

Quartararo had ominously put a disappointing start behind him to apply the pressure, becoming the latest leader of the race with 17 laps to go.

Rins tried his best to cut the gap in second place but spun off 11 laps from the end at Turn 10 after Valentino Rossi had crashed out from 11th place.

Quartararo was in complete control when Rins spun and a second-placed Zarco hit the deck, with Ducati rider Bagnaia holding off Mir for second, having been back in 11th, as the early championship lead changed hands.

Fabio Quartararo claimed his first MotoGP race win since Catalonia last year as Monster Yamaha secured a second successive Grand Prix triumph in Qatar.

Quartararo has been open about his struggles with the pressure of mounting a championship bid in 2020 but, having worked closely with a psychologist in recent months, will be hoping his win in Doha is the start of something special.

It was already a momentous occasion for rookie Jorge Martin, who secured pole in just his second outing in qualifying for a premier-class event, and the Spaniard held firm at the front for much of the race.

With his Pramac Racing team-mate Johann Zarco for company at the front, Martin looked in good shape but there was always a sense some of the big hitters from further down the field were just biding their time.

Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was the first to make his move but ultimately lost out in his tussle with Zarco, while reigning champion Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) engaged in some risky jostling as they looked to get themselves in position for a late surge.

The pair touched a couple of times, including a particularly hefty bump on lap 13 that saw them exchange gestures, though both stayed up.

Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) also looked a threat for a while but misjudged the first turn at the start of lap 17 and lost four places.

It was around this time that Quartararo, who started fifth, began to make his move as he looked to match his Monster Yamaha colleague Maverick Vinales' win last time out.

It did not take him long to get around Zarco and by the end of the 18th lap he had passed Martin, who quickly responded only to be overtaken once again by the persistent Quartararo.

Martin kept the pressure on but Quartararo never looked unduly worried in the final stages, while Zarco finally managed to pass his rookie team-mate to finish second and seal successive podium finishes.

Jorge Martin will start Sunday's Doha MotoGP on pole after stunning the field in qualifying but the rookie insists the race win will belong to someone else.

The Spaniard nudged Pramac Racing team-mate Johann Zarco into second place with a superlative display, with Maverick Vinales – who won the season-opening race in Qatar – in third.

It was a phenomenal result for Martin on just his second outing in qualifying for a premier-class event, but the 23-year-old refused to get carried away as he lowered expectations ahead of the race at the Losail International Circuit. 

"It's difficult to describe my feelings," he said of his first pole. "In the first run, I was behind [Joan] Mir and I felt super confident, I was catching him so fast, and I said, 'Okay, I need a faster bike [to follow]'.

"I was hoping to be behind Pecco [Francesco Bagnaia] but he wasn't improving at all, so I said, 'Okay, it’s my time to boost, my time to demonstrate who I am'.

"For sure, I didn't expect to make pole; I was expecting to be front four, front five.

"When I finished the lap and I was up there in first position, it's unbelievable. This is so great. Tomorrow – another day to learn because for sure it's not my day to win.

"If we can fight for a top six that'd be great and I will be super happy."

Martin picked up a point with a 15th-place finish last week, when Zarco and pole-sitter Bagnaia joined Vinales on the podium.

A best lap of one minute and 53.106 seconds saw Martin clinch pole this time around and Zarco admitted he was taken aback when he realised who had gone faster than him.

"I'm pretty happy, a low one minute 53 seconds was a good target to be on the first row," said the Frenchman.

"When I saw this one minute 53.2 seconds when I crossed the finish line I expected to be on pole.

"But when I understood it was the 89 on pole, my team-mate, I was a bit surprised.

"I'm happy anyway because it's all going too perfect for Pramac team – first and second and it's just happiness to take. It has been great."

Provisional classification

1. Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) 1:53.106
2. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) +0.157
3. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) +0.161
4. Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) +0.197
5. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) +0.363
6. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) +0.548
7. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) +0.599
8. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) +0.639
9. Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) +0.679
10. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) +0.688
11. Stefan Bradl (Repsol Honda Team) +1.118
12. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) +1.990

Francesco Bagnaia targeted "a really great result" at the Qatar Grand Prix after setting a stunning lap record on his factory Ducati debut.

Third-year MotoGP rider Bagnaia had finished 15th and 16th in his two seasons with Pramac Racing but has quickly focused on loftier ambitions following his bow with the factory team.

Ducati - winners of the previous two Qatar GPs with the since-departed Andrea Dovizioso - had been fast all week at the season opener, with Jack Miller setting the practice pace in his 100th grand prix with a best time of one minute and 53.387 seconds ahead of second-placed team-mate Bagnaia.

But Bagnaia later suggested he had believed he could run in less than 1:53 in qualifying and so it proved, a magnificent 1:52.772 setting a two-wheel lap record at the Losail International Circuit.

That was enough for a healthy 0.266-second gap to Fabio Quartararo, while Bagnaia gave veteran Valentino Rossi - a four-time Qatar winner - a tow to take him to the front of the second row.

Rossi has 10 podiums at Losail and his next in MotoGP will make him the first to 200.

Even from his commanding position, Bagnaia could be forgiven for being pessimistic after his year-high six abandonments in 2020 - including five in the final eight races - but he was full of positivity following an outstanding display.

"I'm very happy," he said. "Already yesterday I was thinking it was possible today to arrive at (1:)52.

"In the second attempt, when I started pushing, I thought it was possible. After the third sector, I was very close to this lap time.

"I'm very happy; my first pole position in my first race with this team. I would like to make everything possible to finish the race tomorrow in the best way possible. I think we can make a really great result."

Miller had to settle for fifth, next to Rossi, as he pursues a third straight podium for the first time in his career following two to end 2020.

Quartararo also had reason to be disappointed with his day as he mistimed his second run and the chequered flag denied him the opportunity to challenge Bagnaia.

Another debutant at a factory team, Yamaha's Quartararo won the first two races of the season last year but has had only one podium in 12 outings since.

The 21-year-old, who has colleague Maverick Vinales - the 2017 Qatar winner - behind him in third, said: "It's a shame I couldn't do the second lap on my second run. I had the chequered flag for a second.

"But I'm quite happy. I think we did a great lap. We tried something in FP4 that was bad, honestly - I didn't feel great on the bike. But I feel that we have great potential for tomorrow.

"We will go with that bike for the race because it's the one that I feel good [on]. I think we made too much changes today, but I'm feeling happy.

"I think we did a great, great job in the qualifying. Now we're just missing the race. I can't wait."

Neither the Ducatis nor the Yamahas should have to worry this weekend about defending champion Joan Mir, who failed to capitalise on the absence of Repsol Honda great Marc Marquez.

Mir was forced to contend in Q1 and will start from 10th, having finished eighth in his only previous Losail entry in 2018.


Provisional classification

1. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) 1:52.772
2. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Yamaha) +0.266s
3. Maverick Vinales (Monster Yamaha) +0.316s
4. Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha) +0.342s
5. Jack Miller (Ducati) +0.443s
6. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) +0.514s
7. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha) +0.541s
8. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team) +0.543s
9. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) +0.718s
10. Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) +0.910s
11. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda) +0.949s
12. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda) +1.158s

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