until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

MotoGP

Marini denies Di Giannantonio timely Qatar MotoGP pole

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
3 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Luca Marini narrowly defeated fellow Ducati satellite rider Fabio Di Giannantonio to take pole position for MotoGP's Qatar Grand Prix - and the Saturday sprint that will precede it.

Marini, whose pole is his second in MotoGP, is now in possession of the new lap record at the resurfaced venue, a 1m51.762s, which he set while tucked in behind Aprilia's Maverick Vinales on his final push lap in the pole shoot-out.

Before then, it looked like pole would be going to weekend standout Di Giannantonio, the Gresini rider having been the first to go under the 1m52s mark.

Ultimately, the Italian will join Marini - who is expected to take the Marc Marquez-vacated Honda ride the out-of-contract Di Giannantonio had been gunning for - on front row, having ended up 0.067s off pole.

Di Giannantonio's Gresini team-mate Alex Marquez will also be on the front row after having fought his way through Q1.

Championship contenders Pecco Bagnaia and Jorge Martin, meanwhile, are set to line up fourth and fifth, followed by another Q1 graduate in Martin's Pramac team-mate Johann Zarco.

Zarco's effort made it a Ducati 1-2-3-4-5-6, although by just 0.002s - with Marc Marquez, who had picked Bagnaia as a rider to follow in yesterday's practice and did so again today, coming very close to at least slightly disrupting the Ducati hegemony.

Vinales was the best of the Aprilias but only eighth, his four-tenths deficit coming almost entirely in the final sector.

He was followed by Aprilia stablemates Raul Fernandez (who shrugged off a late last-corner crash in pre-qualifying practice) and Aleix Espargaro.

Espargaro, however, will be very lucky if he's to hang on to 10th place on the grid, given he was involved in an altercation in that same aforementioned practice session in which he slapped Yamaha rider Franco Morbidelli on the helmet.

A pair of KTM RC16s, those of Brad Binder and Augusto Fernandez, completed the order in Q2.

Marco Bezzecchi was running close behind fellow Ducati rider Enea Bastianini for most of his fastest Q1 lap and seemingly on course to advance - but as Bastianini came up on a slow Iker Lecuona, rolled out of his lap and gave Lecuona a piece of his mind, Bezzecchi continued on but could only go third-fastest in the session.

Bastianini, for his part, then got another crack at it and was on pace to go fastest after two sectors, only to drop half a second over the rest of the lap and end up 15th on the grid.

Slotting in between them on row five will be Yamaha's Fabio Quartararo, who hampered his Q2 bid by towing Alex Marquez to a faster time.

KTM's Jack Miller was livid with RNF Aprilia's Miguel Oliveira - the rider he replaced at KTM - after overtaking Oliveira on his final push lap and then getting re-overtaken.

They are both set to line up on row six, joined by Morbidelli.

Three Hondas rounded out the grid, with Takaaki Nakagami slowest, the LCR Honda rider having crashed early on in Q1. Nakagami may yet start ahead of team-mate Lecuona, though, given the latter is under investigation for impeding Bastianini.

Qualifying Results

PosNameCarQ1Q2Q3
1Luca MariniDucati1m51.762s
2Fabio Di GiannantonioDucati1m51.829s
3Alex MarquezDucati1m52.437s1m51.898s
4Francesco BagnaiaDucati1m52.036s
5Jorge MartinDucati1m52.058s
6Johann ZarcoDucati1m52.382s1m52.101s
7Marc MarquezHonda1m52.103s
8Maverick ViñalesAprilia1m52.175s
9Raul FernandezAprilia1m52.348s
10Aleix EspargaróAprilia1m52.466s
11Brad BinderKTM1m52.729s
12Augusto FernandezKTM1m52.784s
13Marco BezzecchiDucati1m52.504s
14Fabio QuartararoYamaha1m52.524s
15Enea BastianiniDucati1m52.828s
16Jack MillerKTM1m52.889s
17Miguel OliveiraAprilia1m53.099s
18Franco MorbidelliYamaha1m53.143s
19Pol EspargaróKTM1m53.362s
20Joan MirHonda1m53.570s
21Iker LecuonaHonda1m53.838s
22Takaaki NakagamiHonda1m54.360s
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