Pramac’s Jorge Martin denied the factory Ducati duo to take the final MotoGP pole position of 2021 at Valencia.
Jack Miller and Pecco Bagnaia both took turns to head the grid before the pair crashed out in the closing stages and their rookie colleague set the 1’29.936 target. Valentino Rossi completing his farewell qualifying session 10th for a fourth row start on Sunday.
MotoGP qualifying got underway with no Repsol Honda representation. Marc Marquez out for the final two races, and Jerez 2022 test, due to ongoing concussion complications after a training accident, and Pol Espargaro airlifted to Valencia hospital following Saturday morning’s monster FP3 crash. The Catalan conscious but undergoing checks on his ribs and wrist.
Suzuki’s Alex Rins led the way in the opening Q1 session after the first laps registered, Maverick Viñales claiming the second promotion place before he was displaced, initially down to ninth before recovering to fifth.
Brad Binder claimed the spoils with his third lap, the factory KTM trailed by the Tech3’s of Danilo Petrucci and Iker Lecuona, as Rins consolidated out front thanks to a 1’30.675.
Andrea Dovizioso claimed third with the first lap of his second run, three-hundredths shy of the promotion zone on a 1’30.999. Viñales a further 0.11s shy in fourth. The Yamaha man hit back, however, with a 1’30.8, briefly holding his ticket to the pole battle before Binder struck again.
Marquez crashed out at turn two from seventh as the penultimate minute began and the challenges tailed off. Enea Bastianini demoting the LCR further before his Avintia teammate also bettered for seventh and eighth. Miguel Oliveira continued to flounder as the 2021 season counted down, from the back of the pack.
Rins maintained his dominance on 1’30.673 pace as the flag came out with Binder refining his own lap to ensure the upgrade and defend from the threat of Dovizioso.
The final pole shootout of the season began with Bagnaia heading out with mentor and friend Rossi as VR46’s farewell weekend continued. The tow failing as ‘the Doctor’ ran wide at turn one.
Miller took charge with a 1’30.479, his teammate running second before Fabio Quartararo and Rins slid in between. Franky Morbidelli joined the fun as the next to sit second, three-tenths behind the Ducati with the Australian bettering his advantage to a 1.30.325.
Bagnaia attempted to match, missing out by a mere 0.015s as a Suzuki duo headed the Factory Yamaha pair. Joan Mir heading Rins with their third attempts as Martin equaled Miller’s provisional pole with an identical time on lap four.
Takaaki Nakagami split the M1’s for seventh before the pack returned to pitlane, Johann Zarco, Aleix Espargaro, Rossi and Binder completing the top 12 at the halfway stage.
Student-turned-master Bagnaia tried again to aid Rossi as the second runs fired up, the Ducati hitting pole with a 1’30.118 as Rossi claimed eighth, six-tenths back. The number 63 was on a roll as he improved next time around with a 30-flat, before crashing out at turn two and bring out the yellow flags.
The final efforts saw Martin and Miller battle for honours with the Pramac man taking the first 1’29 of the weekend, Miller crashing out of his own pole-worthy lap as he was forced to settle for third.
Mir sat fourth from Zarco and Rins with Binder bettering Quartararo and Nakagami on row three. Rossi starting his final MotoGP race from 10th on the grid alongside Morbidelli and Espargaro.