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Qatar MotoGP, Lusail Qualifying: Luca Marini pole denies dream Gresini result

Gold & Goose

Luca Marini denied Gresini Racing a dream 1-2 on the grid for the Qatar MotoGP after snatching pole position by a slender margin from Fabio di Giannantonio at the Lusail International Circuit.

The Mooney VR46 Racing rider swept to the top of the timesheets with his final time attack in the closing moments of the session the prove quickest of the three riders to dip below 1m 52secs around the floodlit circuit.

HIs efforts were enough to assure him of a second MotoGP pole position to follow on from taking pole in Indonesia, in so doing preventing di Giannantonio an identical feat.


Indeed, di Giannantonio - still without a ride for the 2024 MotoGP season - looked on course to complement his surprise Italian MotoGP pole position at Mugello last year with a timely return to the front of the grid after twice setting lap record-breaking benchmarks during Q2.

With Alex Marquez slotting into second place behind him as the seconds ticked down, it appeared Gresini Racing would be heading for a triumphant result on its return to Qatar 18 months after Enea Bastianini gave the freshly independent satellite Ducati outfit a stunning victory at the 2023 season opener.

However, its 1-2 dreams would be spoiled by Marini, whose 1m 51.762secs lap was good enough to surpass di Giannantonio’s time by less than a tenth.

Despite missing out on a first 1-2, di Giannantonio and Marquez completed an all-GP22 front row as Ducati filled each of the top six positions.

As for the title contenders, they were again closely matched, though it was Pecco Bagnaia that would get the better of Jorge Martin in fourth and fifth respectively, while Johann Zarco - who like Alex Marquez progressed from Q1 - completes row two in sixth.

Benefitting from again using Bagnaia as his close reference, Marc Marquez hauled his Honda to seventh on the grid, ahead of Aprilia’s Maverick Vinales and satellite RNF Racing counterpart Raul Fernandez, the Spaniard unable to translate his timesheet topping efforts on Friday, even if ninth remains a career-best qualifying performance.

Aleix Espargaro rounds out the top ten but risks a penalty or potentially worse after being involved in a fracas with Franco Morbidelli in the preceding FP2 session. The Spaniard, unhappy with being baulked by the Yamaha rider, slapped Morbidelli on the helmet as they remonstrated on the exit of the corner, an incident that is currently under investigation by stewards.

A disappointing session for KTM, Brad Binder could only manage 11th on the factory RC16, while Augusto Fernandez on the sister GasGas Tech3 bike brought up the rear in Q2 with 12th.

Failing to make the cut in Q1, Marco Bezzecchi - who along with di Giannantonio and Raul Fernandez - made his MotoGP debut in Qatar last year will start 13th, while Fabio Quartararo was the best of the Yamaha contingent in 14th having topped the timesheets shortly before in FP2.

Qatar MotoGP, Lusail International Circuit - Qualifying Results

2023 Qatar MotoGP - Lusail International Circuit - Qualifying Results - Round 19 of 20
Pos.NameNatTeamMotorcycleLap Time
1Luca Marini🇮🇹Mooney VR46 RacingDucati GP221m 51.762
2Fabio di Giannantonio🇮🇹Gresini Racing MotoGPDucati GP221m 51.829
3Alex Marquez🇪🇦Gresini Racing MotoGPDucati GP221m 51.898
4Francesco Bagnaia🇮🇹Ducati Lenovo TeamDucati GP231m 52.036
5Jorge Martin🇪🇦Prima Pramac RacingDucati GP231m 52.058
6Johann Zarco🇨🇵Prima Pramac RacingDucati GP231m 52.101
7Marc Marquez🇪🇦Repsol Honda TeamHonda RC213V1m 52.103
8Maverick Vinales🇪🇦Aprilia RacingAprilia RS-GP1m 52.175
9Raul Fernandez🇪🇦CryptoData RNF RacingAprilia RS-GP1m 52.348
10Aleix Espargaro🇪🇦Aprilia RacingAprilia RS-GP1m 52.466
11Brad Binder🇿🇦Red Bull KTM Factory RacingKTM RC161m 52.729
12Augusto Fernandez🇪🇦GasGas Factory Racing Tech3KTM RC161m 52.784
13Marco Bezzecchi🇮🇹Mooney VR46 RacingDucati GP221m 52.504
14Fabio Quartararo🇨🇵Monster Energy YamahaYamaha M11m 52.524
15Enea Bastianini🇮🇹Ducati Lenovo TeamDucati GP231m 52.828
16Jack Miller🇦🇺Red Bull KTM Factory RacingKTM RC161m 52.889
17Miguel Oliveira🇵🇹CryptoData RNF RacingAprilia RS-GP1m 53.099
18Franco Morbidelli🇮🇹Monster Energy YamahaYamaha M11m 53.143
19Pol Espargaro🇪🇦GasGas Factory Racing Tech3KTM RC161m 53.362
20Joan Mir🇪🇦Repsol Honda TeamHonda RC213V1m 53.570
21Iker Lecuona🇪🇦LCR Honda CastrolHonda RC213V1m 53.838
22Takaaki Nakagami🇯🇵LCR Honda IDEMITSUHonda RC213V1m 54.360

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