MotoGP rookie Jorge Martin stunned the paddock by taking a monumental pole a week into his MotoGP career. He leads a Pramac 1-2 in an unbelievably tight session.
For the second time in a week, MotoGP went out for their qualifying session. It was the same track at the same time, but it was the Doha Grand Prix this week. Maverick Viñales was the man to look at, being the championship leader. However, Ducati, especially Jack Miller and Johann Zarco, looked very strong. “The Bologna Bullets” as they’re known, took pole last week with Francesco Bagnaia, and a lap record and speed record with it. Zarco was the man to beat, having topped FP4, the session immediately before qualifying.
The qualifying format in MotoGP goes as follows. The top ten in practice go straight to Q2. The remaining twelve battle it out in Q1, with the two fastest joining the other ten in Q2. Some of the big names who needed to get through the first session were World Champion Joan Mir, along with riders like Valentino Rossi and Brad Binder.
The pit lane opened for Q1, and the riders immediately went out to try and put an early banker lap in, and find some crucial slipstream. Mir led after the first runs, with Binder second and Petrucci third. It was a disaster for Pol Espargaró, who had some kind of problem early on to pull straight in the pits. There was then the lull before riders went out on a fresh set of softs to go all out at the end.
Then it was go time. Five minutes left in the session to decide the bottom ten. The KTM riders dawdled on the racing line, which was bending the impeding rule, but Tech3’s Danilo Petrucci was flying. He was up on Mir in the first two sectors, but the others hadn’t started their all-out lap yet. He ended up second, with a minute left in the session.
Then, Luca Marini, the rookie went second. Petrucci was going red again, as was Espargaró, Lecuona, Mir, Oliveira and Alex Marquez. Espargaró put his Honda third but had one lap to go. Everyone was up on everyone and it was a seriously close session.
Oliveira went fastest, then Mir. They were the best of a good bunch. Marini was a brilliant third, with Marquez fourth and Espargaró fifth. Rossi fans winced as the Italian hero ended his day 11th, which means 21st on the grid tomorrow. It was Mir and Oliveira into Q2 though, to join the likes of Viñales, Quartararo, Miller and Zarco.
It was now time for Q2, to decide pole position for the Doha Grand Prix.
The pit lane opened, and the Yamaha’s came out swiftly followed by the Ducati’s. The wind meant there would be no lap records in this session, but the riders would have a fair crack. . The banker times left Jorge Martin on top from Aleix Espargaró, but the second lap on the soft tires are more important. Martin stayed on top with his second time, this time from Quartararo with Espargaró in third. Pole favorites Miller and Viñales were sixth and ninth.
It was then happy hour. They all bolted new tires on to put a 100% lap in at the end. Viñales went out a bit before the others and went first with a minute to go. . Viñales was on a storming lap, 0.3sec up in sector 1 alone. He found another tenth to further his pole, but Martin and Espargaró were flying. Then it all kicked off. Zarco came from nowhere to go pole. Quartararo was fastest, as was Miller. Then Jorge Martin pulled a lap from nowhere to take pole in his second-ever Grand Prix.
Zarco put his Ducati second to mean it was a Pramac 1-2, embarrassingly for the factory team to be beaten by customers. Viñales would line up third from Miller, Quartararo, and Bagnaia.
The top 10 results follows: