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Japanese GP: Marc Marquez ends three-year pole draught

Marc Marquez

Bengaluru, September 24: After 1,071 days - and another 90 minutes - Marc Marquez is back on top as the Repsol Honda rider grabbed his 91st Grand Prix pole position for the Japanese GP at the Twing Ring Motegi.

The heavens opened over Motegi and a pole position drought was also broken as Marquez qualified fastest.

After a 90-minute delay to the schedule, the Spaniard rider set a 1:55.214 in a wet MotoGP Q2 session to score a first pole since the 2019 Japanese GP.

Japanese GP: Miller tops the rivals in MotegiJapanese GP: Miller tops the rivals in Motegi

Second went to Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing), while Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) made the front row for the first time in the premier class.

Although there was joy for the eight-time world champion across all classes, none of this year's three title contenders qualified any higher than sixth.

That was Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing), with neither Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team) nor Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) making the first two rows.

Quartararo ninth

Quartararo ninth

That means we have to go all the way back to sixth to find one of the title contenders. Aleix Espargaro was seventh when the chequered flag out, but managed to improve marginally to a 1:55.771 to also claim a berth on the second row as he tries to make up a 17-point deficit to 2022 FIM MotoGP World Championship leader Quartararo.

Speaking of El Diablo, he was only ninth-fastest in Q2 with the 1:56.326 which he set on his first flyer. Still, Quartararo was better than Bagnaia, who could not extract any real pace from either of the Ducatis he rode during the session, which he finished last.

Bagnaia 12th

Bagnaia 12th

Bagnaia, who has four wins and a second place from the last five races, faces an uphill battle to repeat either of those results from 12th on the grid on Sunday. Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) had a big front-end save midway through the session on his way to a 1:55.784 which was good enough for seventh, while Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) crashed after setting a 1:55.895 which would leave him eighth on the grid.

Tenth went to Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team), and 11th to Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team).

Marquez sets record

Marquez sets record

Marquez's breakthrough also created an all time MotoGP record of nine different pole-sitters in a single season.

He joins Martin, Quartararo, Aleix Espargaro, Zarco, Bagnaia, Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing MotoGP), Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP), and Miller as the club to have grabbed the pole so far this year. Can Marquez continue the fairytale at Honda's own circuit?

Vroom time!

Vroom time!

Next up is warm up on Sunday at 10.40 am local time (7.10aom IST). Then it's lights out at Motegi at 3pm local time (11.30am IST). Indian audience can catch all the action live on Eurosport channel. Buck up guys! It's vroom time in Motegi!

THE GRID (Top 10)

1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) - 1:55.214

2. Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) + 0.208

3. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) + 0.323

4. Maverick Vinales (Aprilia Racing) + 0.406

5. Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) + 0.472

6. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) + 0.557

7. Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) + 0.570

8. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) + 0.681

9. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGPTM) + 1.112

10. Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) + 1.140

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Story first published: Saturday, September 24, 2022, 15:11 [IST]
Other articles published on Sep 24, 2022