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MotoGP Portimao: Marquez dragged from Q1 to historic MotoGP pole

Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez has earned his place in the history books by securing pole position for the inaugural MotoGP Sprint Race all the way from Q1 after a magnificent last gasp surge to the top of the timesheets in qualifying for the Portuguese MotoGP.

The Spaniard began the morning on the back foot after a crash towards the end of P2 on Friday at Portimao left him outside of the top ten and therefore forced into Q1.

However, after revealing his true pace with a lap record-breaking effort just to progress from Q1, Marquez timed his best lap to perfection in Q2, making the most of a close tow from Enea Bastianini to clock a 1’37.226.


An astonishing lap from the eight-time GP World Champion, some half-a-second quicker than the erstwhile lap record set by Jack Miller on Friday, it means he will be the rider to head up the grid for MotoGP’s first-ever double-header round.

Indeed, with the addition of Saturday’s Sprint Race format - which will offer points down to ninth and run to half the distance of Sunday’s main event - making qualifying particularly critical now, Marquez’s time came after it had appeared he’d flunked his opportunity by pondering around the circuit seeking his infamous tow.

In the end though, he chose factory Ducati man Bastianini - who in turn had two bikes for reference just ahead of him - for the ‘honour’ of his shadow. It would prove a savvy move by the Repsol Honda rider, Marquez’s sizzling pace such that he was crawling over the back of the GP23 for parts of the lap.

Despite this, the close company wasn’t enough to baulk Marquez’s progress, so after getting a strong slipstream through the final corner onto the home straight, he hit the timing beam 0.073s quicker than Pecco Bagnaia.

To Bagnaia’s credit, his impressive marker came with an added pressure not to crash after leaving himself with just a single bike following a damaging accident in the preceding FP session.

Nonetheless, he is in a good spot to get his title defence off to a strong start in second, with one lap specialist Jorge Martin completing the front row on the Prima Pramac Ducati.

Like Marquez, local favourite Miguel Oliveira made the most of the extra track time in Q1 to take his momentum all the way to fourth, much to the delight of the home crowd. Having started the day 19th on the timesheets, Oliveira’s run to the second row means the Cryptodata RNF team out-qualifies the factory Aprilias in its first event using the RS-GP.

Pre-qualifying pacesetter Jack Miller will start fifth, the Australian proving his lap record from P2 was no fluke by smashing it again early on in Q2. However, the KTM rider’s hopes of responding to rivals around him was scuppered by a tumble at Turn 3 with three minutes remaining.

Another rider to fall in P3, Bastianini recovered to sixth position, heading off Maverick Vinales and Marco Bezzecchi in seventh and eighth, the duo unlucky to lose times after being caught out by yellow flags for Aleix Espargaro’s downed Aprilia early on.


Bouncing back from a bizarre moment in free practice when he came down after clipping the back of Miller’s KTM, Luca Marini completed the third row in ninth, with French duo Johann Zarco and Fabio Quartararo 10th and 11th, while Espargaro rounds out row four.

With Marquez having set the bar high with his lap record-breaking benchmark in Q1 alone, the fight for the other remaining Q2 vacancy was keenly fought for.

With Oliveira popping up into second place at the final time of asking, it spelled disappointment for Alex Marquez, who - as he was at the end of P2 - emerged as the first of the ‘unlucky losers’ in third on the timesheets and therefore 13th on the grid.

Making his debut for Gresini Ducati this weekend, Marquez might have made it through but for getting bottled up behind Franco Morbidelli on his final time attack.


Similarly, Joan Mir in 14th was another unfortunate to miss out, not least because it was his tow that assisted Repsol Honda team-mate Marquez in setting his searing lap time.

Suffering with a neck injury this weekend, Brad Binder gritted his teeth to haul his factory KTM to 15th on the grid for this weekend’s two races, while LCR Honda duo Alex Rins and Takaaki Nakagami sandwiched Morbidelli on the factory Yamaha.

Rookie Augusto Fernandez - flying solo with GasGas Tech 3 following Pol Espargaro’s injury - will get his maiden MotoGP race underway from 19th, ahead of sophomore riders Raul Fernandez and Fabio di Giannantonio.

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