MotoGP Buriram: Bezzecchi stuns for maiden pole

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Picture: GeeBee Images

Mooney VR46’s Marco Bezzecchi secured his debut pole position in MotoGP with a new all-time record at Buriram.

Ducati locked out the front row for the Thai Grand Prix as Prima Pramac’s Jorge Martin and Ducati Lenovo’s Pecco Bagnaia completed the celebrations, the trio covered by just a tenth after a rapid qualifying session at the Chang international Circuit.

FP3 found Martin in charge after an early crash as he headed an all-Ducati quartet at the top of the Saturday morning times. JapaneseGP victor Jack Miller, Johann Zarco and Bagnaia completed the Bologna charge with championship leader Fabio Quartararo rounding out the top five.

Big hitters Marc Marquez, Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales headed for Q1 after a challenging weekend for the Aprilia duo so far. The Repsol Honda rider missing out on direct promotion by a painfully close 0.007s.

Marquez was the first to set a time as the opening qualifying kicked into gear. His 1’30.343 dominating the session by over half a second from both Espargaro brothers, in chronological order before Red Bull KTM’s Miguel Oliveira and Gresini’s Fabio Di Giannantonio claimed second and third.

LCR’s Alex Marquez split the brothers as the next laps came in. Tech3’s Raul Fernandez fighting the sickness on his way to fifth, after sitting out of the morning action with a gastro bug, with Aleix Espargaro back in second, 0.266 adrift. WithU Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow was the next to fight, less than two tenths shy of the eight-time champion as he demoted the RS-GP. The Brit battling the pain barrier after Friday’s mammoth highside as he staked his claim on the final promotion place.

Suzuki Ecstar stand-in rider Danilo Petrucci was the first out for the final run. The Espargaro brothers in tandem on track as the Aprilia led the Honda round the 4.5km layout before the RS-GP took charge overall with a 1’30.202. Viñales finding his own improvements to fourth. Marquez and Oliveira were the next to push for promotion as the pair claimed first and second respectively, Espargaro rolling out of his final effort as he returned to pitlane with Monster Energy Yamaha’s Franky Morbidelli up to fourth in the closing stages.

Miller threw down the gauntlet as Q2 fired up with Quartararo immediately hitting back with a 1’30.166. Martin, Bezzecchi and Zarco running third to fifth as the Ducati domination continued with Miller back in front by 0.06s.

The Pramac duo locked out the standings next time around as Martin bested his teammate by 0.07s, the pair both under the 1’30 barrier as the Yamaha rider’s lap record came under threat with eight minutes left to play.

Marquez circulated in sixth at the halfway stage from Red Bull’s Brad Binder, Gresini’s Enea Bastianini and Ducati’s Bagnaia. VR46’s Luca Marini and Suzuki’s Alex Rins bringing up the rear with Oliveira yet to seta time in the final shootout.

Bagnaia was the first to strike in run two on his way to fourth, before digging deep for a pole worthy 1’29.775 lap on his sixth attempt. Martin saving a turn five mistake as he attempted a challenge ahead of regrouping next time around. Further issues found Miller in the pitbox after an out lap as the clock counted down, and facing a nervous wait sitting fifth.

Martin bettered the factory man by 0.083s for a new all-time lap record before Bezzecchi stunned the paddock with a 1’29.671 to steal the glory. Marquez suffering a moment as his front-row effort faded in the final sector and he was forced to settled for eighth.

Quartararo completed Q2 in fourth from Zarco and Bastianini with Miller and Marini either side of the eight-time champion. Rins headed the KTM duo of Oliveira and Binder to complete the top 12.

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