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Motorbike Martin takes pole at MotoGP opener in Qatar, Quartararo 11

Qatar Grand Prix
MotoGP – Qatar Grand Prix – Losail International Circuit, Lusail, Qatar – March 5, 2022 Pramac Racing’s Jorge Martin celebrates after qualifying on pole position REUTERS/Ibraheem Al Omari

March 5, 2022

DOHA (Reuters) – Pramac Ducati’s Jorge Martin stormed to pole position at the season-opening Qatar Grand Prix in Doha on Saturday, edging out Enea Bastianini and six-time MotoGP champion Marc Marquez into first place in qualifying.

Reigning World Champion Fabio Quartararo had complaints about the Yamaha’s top speed in pre-season testing and the Frenchman finished a disappointing 11th – over half a second slower than Martin.

Martin, who also took pole in the second Doha race at the Lusail International Circuit last season, was fastest on Saturday with a time of 1 minute 53.011 seconds.

Gresini Racing’s Bastianini clinched a Ducati one-two and will start from the front row for the first time.

Marquez initially set the fastest lap time after benefiting from slipstreaming from Joan Mir and later Francesco Bagnaia before the two Ducatis stormed to the top of the charts.

“It feels good to be on pole but I’m not 100% happy because we still have a lot of work to do to find the pace in the race,” Martin said in an interview in the pit lane.

“I’m happy with my performance and a fantastic lap, but tomorrow from pole we’ll try to get the tires under control and understand how the race is going.”

Ducati’s Jack Miller will start fourth on the grid while his teammate Bagnaia, last year’s runner-up, is ninth as they try to find the right setup for the new GP 22 bike.

Miller will be joined on the second row by Aleix Espargaro on the Aprilia and the Honda of Pol Espargaro in sixth, while Brad Binder on the KTM sits in seventh, just ahead of 2020 Champion Mir on his Suzuki.

MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi’s VR46 Racing Team made its premier class debut with Luca Marini in 17th, while his teammate and veteran Andrea Dovizioso starts 20th on the grid.

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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