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Qualifying report

Thailand MotoGP: Bezzecchi snatches first pole for Rossi's team

Marco Bezzecchi snatched a maiden MotoGP pole for himself and Valentino Rossi’s team after beating Jorge Martin by 0.021s in a thrilling Thailand Grand Prix qualifying.

The rookie Italian has shown flashes of speed throughout 2022, guiding his 2021-spec Ducati to the front row in a wet/dry qualifying at Mugello and taking a maiden podium at Assen prior to the summer break.

In a tight qualifying at Buriram, Bezzecchi smashed the existing lap record to claim his first pole in the premier class with a 1m29.671s.

The 15-minute pole shootout session got underway in dry conditions with Bezzecchi’s VR46 teammate Luca Marini setting the reference lap with a 1m31.747s.

That only stood as the fastest lap for a few seconds as Jack Miller shot to the top of the order with a 1m30.270s, which he bettered moments later with a 1m30.106s.

The Motegi race-winner was unable to complete the session, however, as an issue on the rear of his Ducati as he exited his garage for his second run in the closing stages forced him back into his box.

Teammate Francesco Bagnaia was only ninth at the end of the opening run, with Pramac’s Jorge Martin leading the way after posting a 1m29.893s moments after Miller had gone top.

When he returned to the circuit for his second run on fresh soft rubber, Bagnaia – who goes into Sunday’s race 18 points behind championship leader Fabio Quartararo – deposed Martin with a 1m29.775s.

This was good enough to keep him second when Martin returned to the top of the order with a 1m29.692s to dip underneath the outright lap record.

Behind him, Bezzecchi was just 0.041s adrift as the VR46 rider came through the third of four sectors.

Crossing the line with a 1m29.671s, Bezzzecchi shot to the top of the order – though had a nervous few minutes wait as Martin clicked through the second sector fastest of all.

But the Pramac rider couldn’t hold the lap together, with Bezzecchi holding onto his maiden pole.

Bagnaia completed the front row, with championship leader Quartararo fourth with a 1m29.909s on the factory Yamaha ahead of fellow Frenchman Johann Zarco on the sister Pramac Ducati.

Gresini’s Enea Bastianini completed the second row in sixth, with Miller left in seventh after his later issues.

Marc Marquez topped the Q1 session and began Q2 on a used soft tyre, which put him sixth when he boxed for his second run.

Quick across his final lap, the Honda rider lost the rear on the way into the last corner and ended up eighth as a result with a 1m30.133s.

Luca Marini will start ninth on the second VR46 Ducati, 0.543s behind teammate Bezzecchi, with Suzuki’s Alex Rins, KTM’s Miguel Oliveira – who followed Marquez through Q1 – and the Portuguese rider’s team-mate Brad Binder completed the top 12.

The big shock of qualifying came in the form of third-in-the-championship Aleix Espargaro, whose grip woes at Buriram continued in Q1.

The Aprilia rider could only managed 13th on the grid having missed the Q2 cut by 0.103s, with Espargaro’s title hopes in trouble heading into the race given he starts 25 points adrift of Quartararo.

Franco Morbidelli was 14th on the second factory Yamaha ahead of a hobbled Cal Crutchlow on the RNF Racing Yamaha, while Raul Fernandez (Tech 3 KTM), Maverick Vinales on the Aprilia, Remy Gardner on the Tech 3 KTM, Honda’s Pol Espargaro and Alex Marquez (LCR Honda).

Danilo Petrucci will start last on his comeback race standing in for Joan Mir at Suzuki, though was only three tenths from RNF’s Darryn Binder, who shadowed LCR stand-in Tetsuta Nagashima and Gresini’s Fabio Di Giannantonio.

Q2 results:

Cla Rider Bike Time Gap
1 Italy Marco Bezzecchi
Ducati 1'29.671
2 Spain Jorge Martin
Ducati 1'29.692 0.021
3 Italy Francesco Bagnaia
Ducati 1'29.775 0.104
4 France Fabio Quartararo
Yamaha 1'29.909 0.238
5 France Johann Zarco
Ducati 1'29.963 0.292
6 Italy Enea Bastianini
Ducati 1'29.988 0.317
7 Australia Jack Miller
Ducati 1'30.106 0.435
8 Spain Marc Marquez
Honda 1'30.133 0.462
9 Italy Luca Marini
Ducati 1'30.214 0.543
10 Spain Alex Rins
Suzuki 1'30.337 0.666
11 Portugal Miguel Oliveira
KTM 1'30.485 0.814
12 South Africa Brad Binder
KTM 1'30.542 0.871

Q1 results:

Cla Rider Bike Time Gap
1 Spain Marc Marquez
Honda 1'30.038
2 Portugal Miguel Oliveira
KTM 1'30.099 0.061
3 Spain Aleix Espargaro
Aprilia 1'30.202 0.164
4 Italy Franco Morbidelli
Yamaha 1'30.528 0.490
5 United Kingdom Cal Crutchlow
Yamaha 1'30.542 0.504
6 Spain Raúl Fernández
KTM 1'30.566 0.528
7 Spain Maverick Viñales
Aprilia 1'30.578 0.540
8 Australia Remy Gardner
KTM 1'30.602 0.564
9 Spain Pol Espargaro
Honda 1'30.641 0.603
10 Spain Alex Marquez
Honda 1'30.692 0.654
11 Italy Fabio Di Giannantonio
Ducati 1'30.794 0.756
12 Japan Tetsuta Nagashima
Honda 1'31.331 1.293
13 South Africa Darryn Binder
Yamaha 1'31.356 1.318
14 Italy Danilo Petrucci
Suzuki 1'31.604 1.566

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