Jorge Martin has ramped up the pressure on 2023 MotoGP World Championship title rival Pecco Bagnaia by taking a timely record-breaking pole position for the Japanese MotoGP.
The Spaniard, who has leapt into the title reckoning after disparate fortunes for the two leading riders in the standings in India last weekend, was in fine form over a single lap as he broke Brad Binder’s one-day old lap record around the Motegi circuit.
Taking almost two-tenths out of Binder’s erstwhile marker, Martin will get away from a potentially crucial pole position in both today’s Sprint Race and tomorrow’s full-length feature, but will have Bagnaia for company on the front row after the Italian did his bit to minimise the potential damage to his slender 13 point margin.
Jack Miller notched up his first front row start since the British MotoGP at Silverstone, the Australian this time stealing the headlines for KTM in a strong session for the Austrian firm with Binder well positioned in fifth himself.
Between them will be Marco Bezzecchi, who will need to get ahead of Martin and Bagnaia from fourth on the grid if he is to count himself among the title contenders, the Italian coming into this race some 44 points adrift.
Fabio di Giannantonio enjoyed his strongest qualifying performance of the year on the sole Gresini Ducati to start sixth, ahead of Marc Marquez, who made the most of progressing through from Q1 to claim seventh on the grid.
Aprilia Racing hold down positions eighth and ninth, Maverick Vinales ahead of Aleix Espargaro, while Johann Zarco completes the top ten from Raul Fernnadez - who upset Fabio Quartararo to once again make it through from Q1 - and Pol Espargaro, the GasGas Tech3 rider’s first appearance in Q2 this season ending with him in 12th.
Elsewhere, Joan Mir’s hopes of making it into Q2 again fell foul when he crashed in Q1 en route to 15th, while Yamaha’s best representative will be Quartararo in 14th. His wild-card team-mate Cal Crutchlow, meanwhile, starts 19th, just ahead of Stefan Bradl, who is a late stand-in for Alex Rins after he decided not to continue this weekend after Friday practice.
|2023 Japanese MotoGP | Twin Ring Motegi, Japan | Qualifying Results | Round 14 of 20|
|1||Jorge Martin||🇪🇦||Prima Pramac Racing||Ducati GP23||1m 43.198|
|2||Pecco Bagnaia||🇮🇹||Ducati Lenovo Team||Ducati GP23||1m 43.369|
|3||Jack Miller||🇦🇺||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM RC16||1m 43.551|
|4||Marco Bezzecchi||🇮🇹||Mooney VR46 Racing||Ducati GP22||1m 43.624|
|5||Brad Binder||🇿🇦||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM RC16||1m 43.709|
|6||Fabio di Giannantonio||🇮🇹||Gresini Racing MotoGP||Ducati GP22||1m 43.808|
|7||Marc Marquez||🇪🇦||Repsol Honda Team||Honda RC213V||1m 43.812|
|8||Maverick Vinales||🇪🇦||Aprilia Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||1m 43.815|
|9||Aleix Espargaro||🇪🇦||Aprilia Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||1m 43.822|
|10||Johann Zarco||🇨🇵||Prima Pramac Racing||Ducati GP23||1m 43.851|
|11||Raul Fernandez||🇪🇦||CryptoData RNF Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||1m 44.054|
|12||Pol Espargaro||🇪🇦||GasGas Factory Racing Tech3||KTM RC16||1m 44.096|
|13||Augusto Fernandez||🇪🇦||GasGas Factory Racing Tech3||KTM RC16||1m 44.129|
|14||Fabio Quartararo||🇨🇵||Monster Energy Yamaha||Yamaha M1||1m 44.138|
|15||Joan Mir||🇪🇦||Repsol Honda Team||Honda RC213V||1m 44.150|
|16||Miguel Oliveira||🇵🇹||CryptoData RNF Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||1m 44.427|
|17||Franco Morbidelli||🇮🇹||Monster Energy Yamaha||Yamaha M1||1m 44.521|
|18||Takaaki Nakagami||🇯🇵||LCR Honda IDEMITSU||Honda RC213V||1m 44.626|
|19||Cal Crutchlow||🇬🇧||YAMALUBE RS4GP||Yamaha M1||1m 45.273|
|20||Stefan Bradl||🇩🇪||LCR Honda Castrol||Honda RC213V||1m 45.451|
|21||Michele Pirro||🇮🇹||Ducati Lenovo Team||Ducati GP23||1m 45.707|
|W||Alex Rins||🇪🇦||LCR Honda Castrol||Honda RC213V|