... Ducati’s delight. The first Tissot watch of the season was up for grabs in Qatar and there were many interested parties. After a feisty Ducati versus Yamaha battle, Pecco Bagnaia’s naked wrist will find some comfort in tonight’s press conference, when he is rewarded for his first pole position in the premier class. The Italian also achieved an all time lap record with the first and only 01:52 time around the Losail circuit. Fabio Quartararo led the way after the first run and although he had to admit defeat to Bagnaia, the Frechman starts his factory career on the front row of the grid, ahead of teammate Maverick Vinales.
Bagnaia’s lightning quick lap also helped mentor Valentino Rossi make a jump on the timing screens and the precious slipstream bumped him up to the front row briefly, before getting demoted by his former teammate. The Doctor opens the second row of the grid, where he is joined by Jack Miller and the brand new top speed record holder Johann Zarco. With Franco Morbidelli qualifying seventh, all four Yamahas will be starting from the first three rows of the grid, surrounded by Ducatis. Aleix Espargaro made Aprilia the next best manufacturer with his eighth place, while Alex Rins closes the third row of the grid for Suzuki.
World champion Joan Mir passed the challenge of Q1 but wasn’t as fortunate in Q2, where the best he could do with one less set of soft tyres was tenth place. Fellow Q1 escapee Takaaki Nakagami joins him on row four, while Pol Espargaro in 12th grid position leaves the Hondas at the bottom of the Q2 pile. One of the highlights of Q1 was the elite rookie cohort, with Enea Bastianini missing out on Q2 by only five thousandths of a second and Jorge Martin crashing out while on course to set the session’s top time. The two rookies will open the fifth row of the grid, where they will be joined by Miguel Oliveira.