Defending MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez stormed to the pole position for the opening round of the season in Qatar, and he will be joined by Alvaro Bautista and Bradley Smith on the front row as Aleix Espargaro suffers disaster with two crashes in Q2.
The World Champion showed his pace in free practice four and was the fastest rider after the first set of laps by the riders. Alvaro Bautista on his satellite Honda then took the fastest time away from Marquez, but with the flag out Marquez took his pole back, and will start from the front for tomorrow’s season opener. Marquez’ pole time was a 1’54.507 which is 0.2 quicker than the free practice times set by Aleix Espargaro, and it was 0.057s quicker than second place Bautista.
Bradley Smith will join the two Honda’s on the front row in his best ever qualifying performance, and he was less than a tenth off the pace of Marquez after an impressive FP4.
Andrea Dovizioso was fourth on his Ducati, and just 0.137 off of Marquez’ time, although Dovi posted his lap on the soft tyre which he probably won’t use tomorrow on race day. Jorge Lorenzo’s fortunes improved slightly and he will start tomorrows Grand Prix from fifth position, and after being just 0.154 off of Marquez’ lap in what he will hope is a turning point in his weekend. Dani Pedrosa was having a wretched session, and managed to save his weekend by jumping to sixth position to round out the second row, just under two tenths behind his team mates time.
Stefan Bradl will head the third row, and he will be joined by Cal Crutchlow and a distraught Aleix Espargaro. Crutchlow scraped through by the skin on his teeth in Q1, with Nicky Hayden almost stealing his spot, and he much like his team mate used the softer tyre to his advantage in qualifying. Aleix Espargaro crashed twice in qualifying, including in the final minute when he was on a provisional pole time, loosing the front end both times. Espargaro was favourite for the pole, and he will be hoping tomorrow goes better than today.
Valentino Rossi will head the fourth row as he starts from tenth place which isn’t what the Italian had envisaged with his pre season testing pace. The Doctor was just over half a second off Marquez’ time as he looks to find a solution around the Yamaha/Bridgestone problems. Andrea Iannone and Pol Espargaro round out a disappointed row four, with all three riders expecting to be starting higher up the grid than they are.