Bezzecchi grabs pole at Thai MotoGP

Bezzecchi grabs pole at Thai MotoGP

Ducati dominates qualifying for Sunday's race in Buri Ram, the first since 2019

Jorge Martin accelerates out of the pit during the third free practice session of the MotoGP Thailand Grand Prix at the Chang International Circuit in Buri Ram on Saturday (AFP Photo)
Jorge Martin accelerates out of the pit during the third free practice session of the MotoGP Thailand Grand Prix at the Chang International Circuit in Buri Ram on Saturday (AFP Photo)

BURI RAM: Marco Bezzecchi set a lap record to lead a Ducati front-row lockout in Thai MotoGP qualifying, with Yamaha’s MotoGP world championship leader Fabio Quartararo managing fourth on the grid.

The Italian posted a time of 1:29.671 to snatch pole position on the Chang International Circuit from Jorge Martin of Pramac Ducati, while Ducati’s Francesco Bagnaia completed the front row for Sunday’s race.

“I don’t know where I found that from,” said Bezzecchi, whose pole was also the first for Mooney VR46 Racing Team, which is owned by MotoGP great Valentino Rossi.

“In the last final minutes of the session, I said ‘I have to go’ and not care about anyone else and try to push the best I can. I saw that I was fast but I didn’t expect to make (1:29.671).

“Also, I didn’t know I was in pole position because I couldn’t check any of the big screens with the sun. Unbelievable, I’m very proud of my first pole, but the important part is tomorrow so we have to be focused.”

Bagnaia, who is second in the championship standings 18 points behind Quartararo, will be the only title contender in the front row in Sunday’s race.

“The pace in practice was so strong, so I think we are ready for the race tomorrow,” Bagnaia said.

The championship hopes of Aprilia Racing’s Aleix Espargaro, who is third in the overall standings, took a blow after he narrowly missed the cut for Q2, meaning he will line up in 13th place on the grid.

Johann Zarco, Enea Bastianini and Jack Miller were fifth, sixth and seventh respectively, with Bezzecchi’s teammate Luca Marini finishing ninth as Ducati dominated the qualifying.

Honda’s six-time MotoGP champion Marc Marquez, who took pole at the Japanese GP last week, finished eighth.

Martin was leading the practice time sheet earlier Saturday after three sessions, ahead of an in-form Australian Jack Miller.

Conditions were dry during the morning’s practice, despite a cloudy sky and forecasts for rain.

MotoGP has returned to Thailand for the first time since 2019 because of coronavirus disruptions. The starting grid:

  • Front row: 1. Marco Bezzecchi (ITA/Ducati-VR46), 2. Jorge Martin (ESP/Ducati-Pramac), 3. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA/Ducati)
  • Second row: 4. Fabio Quartararo (FRA/Yamaha), 5. Johann Zarco (FRA/Ducati-Pramac), 6. Enea Bastianini (ITA/Ducati-Gresini)
  • Third row: 7. Jack Miller (AUS/Ducati), 8. Marc Marquez (ESP/Honda), 9. Luca Marini (ITA/Ducati-VR46)
  • Fourth row: 10. Alex Rins (ESP/Suzuki), 11. Miguel Oliveira (POR/KTM), 12. Brad Binder (RSA/KTM)
  • Fifth row: 13. Aleix Espargaro (ESP/Aprilia), 14. Franco Morbidelli (ITA/Yamaha), 15. Cal Crutchlow (GBR/Yamaha-RNF)

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