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Martin takes pole at MotoGP opener in Qatar, Quartararo 11th


Pramac Ducati’s Jorge Martin stormed to pole position at the season-opening Qatar Grand Prix in Doha on Saturday, pipping Enea Bastianini and six-time MotoGP champion Marc Marquez to top spot in qualifying.

Reigning world champion Fabio Quartararo had complaints about the Yamaha’s top speed in pre-season testing and the Frenchman finished a disappointing 11th — more than half a second slower than Martin.

Martin, who also took pole in the second Doha race last season at the Lusail International Circuit, was fastest on Saturday with a time of 1 minute and 53.011 seconds.

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Gresini Racing’s Bastianini made it a Ducati one-two and will start on the front row for the first time.

Marquez initially set the fastest lap time after he profited by riding in the slipstream of Joan Mir and later Francesco Bagnaia before the two Ducatis roared to the top of the charts. “It feels good to be on pole position but I’m not 100 per cent happy because we have a lot of work to do to find race pace,” Martin said in a pit lane interview.

“I’m happy with my performance and an amazing lap, but tomorrow from pole we will try to manage the tyres and understand how the race goes,” he added.

Ducati’s Jack Miller starts fourth on the grid while his team mate Bagnaia, last year’s championship runner-up, is ninth as they try to find the right setup for the new GP 22 bike.

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Miller is joined on the second row by Aleix Espargaro on the Aprilia and the Honda of Pol Espargaro in sixth while Brad Binder on the KTM is seventh, just ahead of 2020 champion Mir on his Suzuki.

MotoGP great Valentino Rossi’s VR46 Racing Team made its premier class debut with Luca Marini in 17th, while his team mate and veteran Andrea Dovizioso starts 20th on the grid.

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