The big surprise after free practice was seeing Maverick Viñales not going directly to Q2. The Spanish rider had extra work as he would have to earn his spot during Q1. Of course, as a works Yamaha rider, he was the top favourite to take one of the precious two spots and advance to the final fight for pole position. But it was another Yamaha, that of Johann Zarco, which would shine the brightest under the night at Losail.

The last few minutes of Q1 were the most exciting, with Viñales improving his time but Jack Miller giving him a scare by going even fastest and taking first place in the first phase of qualifying. The Aussie would even get congratulated by Ducati CEO, Claudio Domenicalli. A sign of things to come, perhaps? Behind, only Aleix Espargaró was a threat for the two fastest riders but he could not reach such heights. Other good showings were put by Tito Rabat and rookie riders Franco Morbidelli and Hafizh Syahrin. On the other side, KTM disappointed, with neither rider advancing beyond Q1.

But if it is excitement, we are talking about, Q2 had plenty of it thanks to a fantastic fight for the pole position. While everything made it seem like the battle was going to be limited to Marc Márquez and Andrea Dovizioso with the Italian being slightly ahead in his chances due to his quick pace during the weekend, Johann Zarco surprised everyone with his Tech 3 Yamaha where works machines ridden by Viñales and Rossi could only try to avoid being at the bottom of the timing screen.

It was in the last few moments, where Tech 3’s garage exploded with bliss, seeing that not only had Zarco beaten Márquez and Dovizioso, taking the pole without any slipstream where his rivals had it, but he had also beaten a ten year old record from Jorge Lorenzo in 2008. An impressive display of power that should make top Honda and Ducati men take the Frenchman seriously. Pedrosa was also close in terms of pace but in the end, he lacked the edge to fight for the pole. In the end, he was surprised by charismatic Italian Danilo Petrucci, Cal Crutchlow and even Alex Rins, surprisingly competitive on sixth aboard the Suzuki. Something similar happened to Lorenzo, while both Rossi and Viñales’ Yamahas were never in the fight. They expect a tough race, tomorrow.

Pos. Num. Rider Nation Team Bike Km/h Time Gap 1st/Prev.
1 5 Johann ZARCO FRA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 337.9 1’53.680
2 93 Marc MARQUEZ SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 341.9 1’53.882 0.202 / 0.202
3 9 Danilo PETRUCCI ITA Alma Pramac Racing Ducati 345.3 1’53.887 0.207 / 0.005
4 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW GBR LCR Honda CASTROL Honda 343.6 1’54.072 0.392 / 0.185
5 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Ducati Team Ducati 344.6 1’54.074 0.394 / 0.002
6 42 Alex RINS SPA Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Suzuki 338.8 1’54.339 0.659 / 0.265
7 26 Dani PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 336.7 1’54.368 0.688 / 0.029
8 46 Valentino ROSSI ITA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 334.6 1’54.389 0.709 / 0.021
9 99 Jorge LORENZO SPA Ducati Team Ducati 338.7 1’54.431 0.751 / 0.042
10 43 Jack MILLER AUS Alma Pramac Racing Ducati 338.8 1’54.449 0.769 / 0.018
11 29 Andrea IANNONE ITA Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Suzuki 335.0 1’54.619 0.939 / 0.170
12 25 Maverick VIÑALES SPA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 338.9 1’54.707 1.027 / 0.088