The floodlights of Losail offered the perfect spotlight for the premier class qualifying show and Q1 already suggested that pole position was never going to be an easy bet but Q2 took it up a notch. Although parc ferme was always likely to be painted red, the eventual line-up wasn’t all that expected. Rocket rookie Jorge Martin started the session at the top of the timesheets but it seemed like championship leader Maverick Vinales had the measure of him – and everyone else – as he left the pits all guns blazing for his second run. Although the Yamaha man’s lap looked like a solid bid for pole, Martin found something special and grabbed a phenomenal pole position on only his second race in the premier class.
To complete a perfect Saturday for the Pramac crew, Johann Zarco joined his teammate in parc ferme, having taken second position on the grid and demoting Vinales to third for only four thousandths of a second. Jack Miller obviously hoped for more than fourth judging by his stomping back to the pits, while Fabio Quartararo was the only other blotch of blue paint in an otherwise red two front rows, closed by last week’s poleman Pecco Bagnaia.
Aleix Espargaro carries on shining on the Aprilia, this time in seventh position, being joined by the two Suzukis on the third row of the grid. Alex Rins and Joan Mir were separated by only four hundredths of a second, although the world champion had a much more eventful evening after fighting his way through Q1. Franco Morbidelli could not quite match his factory colleagues’ speed and will start from the fourth row of the grid, ahead of the only Honda in Q2, Stefan Bradl and top KTM and Q1 escapee Miguel Oliveira.
In a highly competitive Q1 session, rookie Luca Marini missed out on Q2 for only eighth thousandths of a second, after getting a helpful tow from Alex Marquez and demoting the Spaniard to 14th on the grid. The other side of the Tavullia household did not fare quite as well, Valentino Rossi finding himself in a fairly unusual 21st grid position.