until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Ducati 1-2-3-4 in MotoGP's inaugural India qualifying

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
3 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Marco Bezzecchi took pole position for MotoGP's inaugural Indian Grand Prix, as Ducatis locked out the top four.

The first premier-class qualifying at Buddh, the ex-Formula 1 circuit, came down to a battle between Bezzecchi and fellow Ducati satellite rider Jorge Martin.

Despite crashing in pre-qualifying practice - riding around in scuffed leathers and being limited to just one bike - Martin had led the way for Pramac after the opening attempts in pole shoot-out.

But that was only with a 1m44.153s, and while both he and Bezzecchi would eventually get into the 1m43s range, Bezzecchi's 1m43.947s ultimately ended up half a tenth better.

Championship leader Pecco Bagnaia secured the final spot on the front row by 0.012s over Bezzecchi's VR46 team-mate Luca Marini.

Bagnaia had Marc Marquez crash right in front of him, with a slow tip-off at Turn 3 that seemed to cause no bike damage, in the early going in Q2 - then had Marquez and the other works Honda of Joan Mir follow him on his second run.

This propelled Mir to by far his best qualifying result of the season in fifth, with Marquez 0.015s behind to complete the second row.

Johann Zarco, Martin's team-mate at Pramac, will head up row three, ahead of the lead Yamaha of Fabio Quartararo and the lead Aprilia of Maverick Vinales.

The other works Aprilia rider, Aleix Espargaro, had a moment of rage to kick off Q2 as the team had sent him out to pitlane exit for the original start time - even though proceedings had actually been postponed by a few minutes as a consequence of a minor pre-Q1 delay.

Espargaro was full of fury as he returned to the pit box, clearly giving team manager Paolo Bonora and the rest of the garage an earful, before going on to finish 10th.

Raul Fernandez made it three Aprilias in a row in 11th, though would've been as high up as fifth on the grid had he matched his Q1-topping laptime in Q2.

He had progressed out of Q1 with Alex Marquez, but the latter never took to the track in Q2. Marquez had had a painful highside at Turn 5 en route to a Q2 berth and headed to the medical centre instead of taking part in the pole shootout - before being taken to hospital "for further checks", with an initial diagnosis of a double rib fracture.

Fabio Di Giannantonio was fastest of those failing to advance from Q1, coming just 0.010s short of getting in at the expense of his hurt Gresini team-mate.

Brad Binder (KTM) had led the Q1 order after the opening runs, but posted only a marginal improvement with his first flyer after a tyre change - before being consigned to 14th place by yellow flags, which had effectively completely negated the final moments of the segment as a pained Marquez struggled to get himself away from the crash site.

With Binder the lead KTM rider despite the bad timing, it meant all four RC16s were stranded in Q1, marking out KTM as the day's worst-performing manufacturer.

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