Jorge Martin takes MotoGP pole ahead of title rival Francesco Bganaia in Japanese GP with Jack Miller in P3.
Saturday morning at the Motul Grand Prix of Japan offered up a lightning fast qualifying which saw Jorge Martin absolutely obliterate the all time lap record at Mobility Resort Motegi. A 1:43.198 ensured the Prima Pramac Racing ace takes a second pole in three races, as his pursuit of Championship leader Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) continues.
It won’t be easy though for Martin, as Pecco put in a fine effort of his own to take P2 on the grid, while Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) is back on the front row at the scene of his last MotoGP victory.
How Q1 went down
Some big hitters went head-to-head for a coveted place in the battle for pole position. Marc Marquez was among them, and the Repsol Honda rider wasted little time in going about his business by posting a weekend PB of 1:44.997 to go P1 after the first runs, and he was joined by Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) in the top two.
As the time ticked down in the session, riders were back out with fresh tyres, and immediately Quartararo came under threat. Raul Fernandez (CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP™ Team) rediscovered his recent run of fast form and bumped the Frenchman out of the top two. Joan Mir (Repsol Honda Team) also threatened to trouble the timekeepers, but his best effort fell short before crashing on his final attempt.
Under the cosh, Quartararo had to find a lap, particularly as Fernandez once again improved, but as he towed Marquez around Motegi, there was nothing going for the 2021 World Champion and he must settle for 14th on the grid.
How pole position was won
Marquez and Fernandez took their places in Q2, but the headlines were stolen by a rampant Jorge Martin. The Spaniard came out of the blocks fast, posting a mid 1:43 on his very first attempt, before his next effort smashed it out of the park. A 1:43.198 was nearly three tenths faster than Brad Binder’s (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) lap record set on Friday, which felled Jorge Lorenzo’s longstanding record.
The #89’s lap overshadowed excellent early showings from Jack Miller and Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing MotoGP), who were sitting second and third on the timing screens by the end of the first runs.
As riders exited pitlane, the big question was could anybody catch Martin? Well, Pecco Bagnaia made a good fist of it, getting to within a tenth before a final sector mistake lost him time. That moved him up to third, before his next effort went even closer and moved him to 0.171s behind. Hopes the Ducati rider could better that quickly faded as the reigning World Champion couldn’t find the same pace riding with two lap old soft tyres.
Jack Miller is on the front row for the first time since the British GP as he clung onto third on the timesheets, with a late riposte of his own.
How is the rest of the grid shaping up?
There was some very early drama for Marco Bezzecchi as the Mooney VR46 rider flew through the gravel trap after a dramatic crash on his outlap. Undeterred, the title hopeful swiftly made his way back to the box and reappeared on track for the second runs and showed his fighting spirit to take fourth on the grid. Brad Binder will join him on the second row, as will Fabio Di Giannantonio.
Having come through Q1, Marquez latched himself onto the rear tyre of Martin for the closing stages of qualifying, and that helped the eight-time World Champion to seventh on the grid. He’ll be joined by Maverick Viñales and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing), with the #93 and #41 exchanging some overtakes during the final moments. On row four, Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) has Raul Fernandez and Pol Espargaro (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3) for company.
[Note: The story is as per press release]