Caught up in a bit of sandstorm, the lightweight class might have felt like they were competing in the usual Qatar night-time. Nonetheless, Niccolo Antonelli used his experience as the only previous Qatar GP winner in the current field and snatched a valuable pole position for the SIC58 squad from the grasp of a determined Jorge Martin.
In the least shocking news of the day, Martin led the proceedings early on after a handful of laps and then the calm before the sandstorm set in. As usual, it took until the final fifteen minutes for the action to resume, Martin himself one of the last to exit pitlane. There was no reason to hurry as rivals seemed to struggle to better his early time despite the gap to second being only two tenths of a second.
The wind was starting to calm down as the action was getting lively but although Aron Canet brought the gap down to six hundredths of a second, Martin’s time was still untouched at the top of the standings. After another quick stop to the pits, the riders left themselves with only one timed lap to make a difference.
Martin saved the medium tyre for this final outing and it looked like he was about to blast the field – and that might have happened if Niccolo Antonelli was not in the right place at the right time and slipstreamed his way into pole position. No such luck for Martin, who did it all on his own and came one thousandth of a second short. The Spaniard’s bid for another Tissot for his sizeable collection will have to wait another few weeks but he will start the first race of the year in the middle of the first row. Although half a second slower than the men ahead of him, Gabriel Rodrigo secured the final spot available on the front row.
Ayumu Sasaki held on to the back of Martin by the skin of his teeth on his final lap and was repaid with a fourth grid spot, ahead of an equally impressive Kaito Toba. An incredibly consistent Marco Bezzecchi found his way to the top six once again and will fill in the second row of the grid.
Canet failed to improve on his final outing and dropped to seventh, which was very much the case for Philipp Oettl behind him. Lorenzo Dalla Porta completed third row of the grid after tangling with his teammate in the heat of battle. Enea Bastianini was the first one to blink on the final run, going wide while trying to avoid Dalla Porta and failing to improve his time, dropping down to tenth on the grid. The Italian will share fourth row with Moto3 veteran Jakub Kornfeil and John McPhee, with an honourable mention to Jaume Masia in thirteenth spot.
|9||48||Lorenzo DALLA PORTA||Honda||2'07.320||0.956||0.133|
|16||21||Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO||Honda||2'07.634||1.270||0.027|