Marini obliterates lap record to take pole at Qatar Grand Prix

motorsport18 November 2023 14:36| © Reuters
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Luca Marini © Gallo Images

VR46 racing rider Luca Marini smashed the lap record late in the second qualifying session to take pole position for the Qatar Grand Prix at the Lusail International Circuit on Saturday as Ducati bikes locked out the front row.

On a day when the lap record was broken by several riders across the two qualifying sessions, Gresini Racing's Fabio Di Giannantonio was the first rider to dip below the one minute 52 second mark and he was soon joined by teammate Alex Marquez.

But as the sun began to set in Lusail, where the track had been completely resurfaced, Marini went fastest on his final lap with a time of 1:51.762 for the second pole of his career after topping the charts in Indonesia last month.

Marini's lap time was one second faster than the previous record but the 26-year-old felt he could have gone faster.

"Not perfect, every time you think you can do something more... But anyway, fantastic lap. I really enjoyed riding the bike today," Marini said.

"Let's see the tyres everyone chooses (for the sprint and race). For me the soft front tyre is working really well."

Marini will be joined on the front row by Di Giannantonio and Alex Marquez, while championship leader Francesco Bagnaia of Ducati will start fourth on the grid, one position ahead of fellow title contender Jorge Martin of Pramac Racing.

Bagnaia leads Martin by 14 points with two rounds left in the MotoGP season – Qatar and Valencia.

Johann Zarco will start alongside teammate Martin on the second row while six-time MotoGP champion Marc Marquez could only go seventh-fastest despite benefiting from a tow when his Honda tucked into Bagnaia's slipstream.