The two sophomores will be joined by Marc Marquez on the front row; 2021 top three no higher than eighth.

Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) 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 (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) by 0.147s with a 1:53.011. Eight-time World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) lines up on the front row in P3 as we see the top three in the 2021 World Championship struggle.

A tense Q1

Unexpectedly, the reigning World Champion found himself in Q1. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) was the fastest rider out the blocks in qualifying to beat compatriot Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) by just over a tenth. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) 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 (WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP™ Team) 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.

Down to the wire in a phenomenal Q2

Shadowing 2020 World Champion Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Marc Marquez set the first benchmark time – a 1:53.566 – but he wouldn’t stay at the top for long. Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) was the pacesetter after the first runs were completed, the Australian was less than a tenth clear of Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team), 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 (Ducati Lenovo Team) 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 the 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. Far from it. Red sectors galore – Miller, Pol Espargaro and Martin were all on fire, as was Bastianini and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing). 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 to. 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.

Top 12 for the Qatar GP

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 (Team Suzuki Ecstar) 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. Tune into the premier class race at 18:00 local time (GMT+3) to see who rises highest in the desert. 

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