Jorge Martin breaks lap record in another show to MotoGP pole in Thai GP ahead of Luca Marini and Aleix Espargaro.
Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) has won the first battle of the OR Thailand Grand Prix as his 1:29.287 saw him top the pile in qualifying to take the new all-time lap record. With points to be scored and Championship positions to fight for, it will be Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) who will line up alongside the Spaniard on the 2nd spot on the front row. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) snatched the final front-row spot and is looking like a contender ahead of the racing action following a positive weekend so far for the Catalan.
A family affair in Q1
The gloves were off in Q1 as some of MotoGP‘s finest engaged in an intense time-attack battle. Red sectors came flying in as the chequered flag beckoned, hot laps came in from Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), Raul Fernandez (CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP Team), and Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing MotoGP) with the Marquez brothers also looking strong.
It was set to be Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) and Di Giannantonio who were going to go through until a last-minute stunner from Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) saw him top the session, demoting his brother to P2 and his teammate out of a Q2 spot.
Relentless Martin piles on the pressure
Jorge Martin came out of the blocks guns blazing as he made his intentions known setting the first benchmark and beating the all-time lap record. As they came back into pitlane it was the Spaniard that led the way with Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) and Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) his closest challengers. The battle was nowhere near over however as there was still plenty of life left in the Thai Q2 session.
With the 2nd stint underway it was Bezzecchi who struck first as he bettered Martin’s time by just 0.008s. Bagnaia then decided it was time to join the party as he joined his title rivals in the top three. The red sectors came flying in once again and surprise, surprise it was Jorge Martin who was lighting up the timing screens one again. The Spaniard had the bit firmly between his teeth as he pulled out a stunner to smash the lap record, move the goalposts by two tenths, and take the Thai GP pole position.
With Bezzecchi and Bagnaia failing to go any quicker and hot laps coming in from all directions, naturally the order reshuffled in the final moments. Luca Marini and Aleix Espargaro put in their flyers right at the end as they went 2nd and 3rd respectively, demoting Bezzechhi to P4.
Brad Binder was another who improved in the closing stages as the South African slotted in just behind Bezzecchi to demote the Championship leader Bagnaia down another spot to P6, with the trio set to line up on row two.
Row three and beyond
The third row of the grid will feature the two Marquez brothers who were locked together on the timing screens in both Q1 and Q2. Alex will line up on the 7th spot on the grid with his brother Marc getting a good view of his 2024 steed in 8th. It wasn’t meant to be for Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing), who despite looking strong all through practice wasn’t able to put a lap together in Q2, and will start from the edge of row three.
Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) still isn’t’ quite where he’d like to be but is enjoying one his more positive weekends of 2023. The Frenchman bagged P10 in qualifying and will be joined on row four by Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) and Augusto Fernandez (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3).
[Note: The story is as per press release]