Late charges from Bastianini and Pol Espargaro sees the reigning World Champion have to compete in Q1
Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) is the fastest rider heading into MotoGP™ qualifying at the Grand Prix of Qatar after his 1:53.432 from Friday remains unbeaten. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) and Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) complete the top three as the top four stays unchanged after FP3, but reigning World Champion Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) misses the top 10 cut and will have to compete in Q1.
Late drama in the top 10 shootout
The only improver in the early stages of FP3 was Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team), as the riders went in search of some race pace rhythm and optimal settings. No one was troubling the combined standings, in terms of the top 10 anyway, as Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) moved from P18 to P16 with 14 minutes to go. The Frenchman was a second down on Rins’ FP2 time though.
The session then came alive with five minutes to go. Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) shot to P1 from P11, eliminating Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) from the top 10, but the Italian’s lap time was cancelled for exceeding track limits moments later. Pecco then climbed to P6, crucial for one of the pre-season favourites, as Quartararo failed to improve from P9 on his last lap as the chequered flag dropped.
That proved vital. Bastianini responded to go P5 on his final lap, and with Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) also finding time, Quartararo was shoved outside the top 10 into P11. Early season drama for the 2021 World Champion, who misses the Q2 cut by 0.020s – just the fourth time in his premier class career that he’s not automatically through to Q2.
The first automatic Q2 qualifiers of 2022
Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) sits as the leading Ducati in P4 as Bastianini’s 1:53.790 sees the Italian rise to P5. Pol Espargaro is sixth thanks to his late charge, the Spaniard is just ahead of the only Yamaha automatically challenging in Q2 – Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™), who is unhurt after a Turn 6 tumble. Bagnaia is into Q2 in P8, he’s 0.015s ahead of teammate Jack Miller in P9, with Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) holding onto 10th by the skin of his teeth as he sat in his box watching the late flurry of times fly in.
With 0.7s covering 16 riders and the World Champion competing in Q1, an already unmissable Qatar GP qualifying just got even tastier. Tune in at 18:00 local time (GMT+3) to watch the first Q1 and Q2 action of the year unfold.
Top 10 combined:
1. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) – 1:53.432
2. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) + 0.035
3. Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.147
4. Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) + 0.220
5. Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) + 0.358
6. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) + 0.371
7. Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 0.413
8. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) + 0.423
9. Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) + 0.438
10. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) + 0.454
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