The lovely lights of Losail did little to compensate for the modest and humid 16 degrees of track temperature but premier class riders tried their best to sign their names to the first pole position of the season. Maverick Vinales showed his cards early with the first 1:53 time of the session barely five minutes into the action, laying an impressive benchmark for the pursuers. While the Spaniard ran comfortably into the 1:53s, everyone else struggled to get within three tenths of a second during the first run. And the second one started no different, the Yamaha youngster finding another couple of tenths which came in handy when Andrea Dovizioso showed up to the party. Too little too late for the Italian, who had to settle for second as Vinales secured pole.
Meanwhile, Marc Marquez and Danilo Petrucci had been doing the tango all throughout the session and had to rely on one final lap for a real time attack. Marquez came out on top in that game, the Honda rider slipstreaming his way onto the front row, only one thousandth of a second behind Dovizioso. Jack Miller had another impressive session and although it ended quite spectacularly in the gravel trap, the Pramac rider was the second best Ducati in fourth position. The achievement might have seemed more impressive, had Fabio Quartararo not qualified fifth after an excellently consistent weekend in Qatar for the rookie. Q1 leader Cal Crutchlow survived two bouts of tricky conditions to close the second row of the grid.
Petrucci was on the losing end of the battle with the world champion and although the Italian dominated FP4, he could not quite match that performance in qualifying, opening row three ahead of Franco Morbidelli and Takaaki Nakagami. Alex Rins was an underwhelming tenth grid position, seven tenths off the poleman, just about ahead of teammate Joan Mir and with a lonely Aleix Espargaro completing fourth row.
Jorge Lorenzo’s bad day continued, the Spaniard going down in turn two while in a top two position in Q1, but a kinder crash in the grand scheme of things. Valentino Rossi, on the other hand, safely crossed the finish line to further demote his former teammate but it was nothing to write home about. The Italian finished in 14th place, one behind his young apprentice, Pecco Bagnaia, the much-talked-about trio sharing row five.