The floodlights at Lusail set a dramatic scene once again for the first qualifying show of the season and the premier class kept the implicit promise made in practice of being nearly inseparable on the timesheets. While the reigning world champion provided the warmup act by narrowly escaping the dangers of Q1, Act 1 was a more familiar sight around Lusail, with Marc Marquez taking on the factory Ducatis. The Spaniard used Pecco Bagnaia as a fine guide to provisional pole but while the two rivals took their eye off the ball, the rest of the field took their turn to light up the timesheets. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Jorge Martin repeated last year’s feat in Doha by claiming top spot with one minute to spare and challengers did not seem to have an answer to his speed – until Enea Bastianini flashed red on the timing screens that is. The Italian came close to pole but a mistake in the final sector allowed Martin to keep the first pole position of the season, while the Beast claims his first front row start in MotoGP. Although he slipped out of the spotlight in the closing stages of Q2, Marquez was happy enough with third, two tenths off pole.
Jack Miller made an early bid for pole as well but had to make do with 4th on the grid, sharing second row with the Espargaro brothers, Aleix ahead of Pol. Brad Binder impressed as he led the way in Q1 and climbed as high as 7th on the grid, while Joan Mir had to settle for 8th despite being only three tenths off pole. Bagnaia might be quite disappointed to find himself only 9th on the grid, much like Alex Rins down in 10th, while Fabio Quartararo ended a pretty difficult evening in 11th position and will be starting his title defence from the middle of fourth row, ahead of teammate Franco Morbidelli.
Johann Zarco looked set to join the Q2 shenanigans when a yellow flag ended his hopes and left him 13th on the grid, ahead of Miguel Oliveira and a fairly impressive Marco Bezzecchi as the leading rookie.
|21||49||Fabio Di Giannantonio||Ducati||1'54.276||0.764||0.032|