Luca Marini took a last gasp MotoGP pole in Indonesian GP ahead of Aprilia pair of Maverick Vinales and Aleix Espargaro.
There was drama aplenty for Saturday’s qualifying at the Pertamina Grand Prix of Indonesia. Upon his return from a broken collarbone, Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) sprinkled some magic on the Mandalika circuit as his 1:29.978 secured him a career-first pole position. It’s been advantage Aprilia all weekend, and the Noale favtory carried their strong form into Q2 as Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) bagged a spot in the middle of the front row, falling just +0.031s short of the top spot. His Aprilia teammate is set to join him on the front row. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) did enough to bag P3 in Q2.
The title race turned on its head in 15 minutes
All eyes were on the reigning Champion Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) during Saturday’s Q1 session as the Championship leader prepared to scrap it out for a spot in Q2. The Italian struggled his way through as the hot laps came in. Pecco finally found some form with the two minutes remaining and topped the pile.
Just seconds later his compatriot Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) pipped him for the top spot, leaving Bagnaia on the edge of the danger zone. It looked as if no one had enough in the tank to threaten the two Italians at the top, but it was none other than the champ’s teammate Enea Bastianini (Ducati Lenovo Team) who pulled a lap out of the bag and pushed Bagnaia out of the top two, and forcing him to settle for 13th place on the grid.
The pressure is on in Q2!
The spotlight was now on the man just 3 points adrift in the title race. Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) pumped himself up for the occasion as 15 minutes of Q2 action was set to decide the next chapter in the 2023 Championship story. The Martinator cracked under pressure early on as a crash on his first run saw him rush back to the Prima Pramac box with his 2nd bike awaiting his arrival.
Aleix Espargaro led the way as they came back into the pitlane for a change of rubber. Martin did manage to get back out on circuit and was making all sorts of shapes on his first flyer with a hard front tyre on his number 2 bike. The battle was then well and truly on as the hot laps came flying in from the Q2 favourites.
The Aprilias were on a charge as they had been all weekend. They controlled the session from the top before an incredible lap from Luca Marini saw the Italian set the first-ever 1:29 lap of the Pertamina Mandalika Circuit to take pole position. The Noale squad kept themselves well in contention however as Maverick Viñales and Aleix Espargaro proved themselves as the clear favourites ahead of lights out in Indonesia.
The charging pack
Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) will head the 2nd row after finishing 0.384s away from the front row. The Frenchman will be joined by Brad Binder(Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) who bagged a positive P5 to take top KTM honours. As ever, Martin left everything he had out on the circuit but 6th place was all the Spaniard could manage, as that hard front tyre hindered his progress to the edge of the second row.
Taking the 7th spot on the grid was Fabio Di Giannantionio (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) with his 2024 replacement Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) taking P8. The eight-time champ will start from the middle of row three with Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing) taking P9 after a trip to the gravel trap, and Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) rounding out the top 10.
[Note: The story is as per press release]