'On the limit': Martin takes shock Doha pole, writes off victory chances

·2-min read
Jorge Martin during the first free practice session ahead of the Moto GP Grand Prix of Doha at the Losail circuit April 2, 2021

Spanish rookie Jorge Martin, riding for Ducati-Pramac, claimed a shock pole position for the Doha MotoGP on Saturday in just his second appearance in the sport's elite class but wrote off his chances of winning Sunday's race.

Martin is joined on the front row by teammate Johann Zarco of France and Spain's Maverick Vinales, the Yamaha rider who won the season opener at the same Losail track last weekend.

"My last lap was on the limit," said the 23-year-old.

"Every day I improve... I've been here with the team for one month and I already feel at home.

He added: "It's incredible. I didn't expect to be on pole, rather fourth or fifth.

"Tomorrow will be a new day to learn. It will not be my day to win. A top six place will be incredible."

The paddock lined up to congratulate Martin who high-fived his team as he rode past, setting the stage for an unpredictable second race of the season from 1700 GMT Sunday.

As a Moto 3 stalwart, and champion in 2018, Martin was on pole 19 times in 2017 and 2018.

"I'm pretty happy. Below 1 minute 53 was a pretty good target for the first row," said second-placed Zarco.

"When I saw that Martin was on pole I was pretty surprised and also happy. It's going too perfectly for us at Pramac."

- 'Very difficult' -

Third-placed Vinales said "the front row is very difficult, for tomorrow I have nothing planned. I'll go out and try to make a fast race, we will see".

Australia's Jack Miller, on a factory Ducati, was fifth ahead of Fabio Quartararo of Yamaha and Ducati's Francesco Bagnaia who had been on pole last week.

Italy's Franco Morbidelli, of Yamaha-SRT, who struggled in 18th place at the Qatar MotoGP last Sunday, was 10th in qualifying on Saturday.

There was disappointment for seven-time MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi as the 42-year-old Italian qualified in 21st place on the other Yamaha-SRT, the second slowest time on the grid.

Six-time MotoGP champion Marc Marquez is still out with a fractured arm after falling last summer.

In the Moto2, Britain's Sam Lowes, of Kalex, who won last weekend, will be on pole, with Australian Remy Gardner and Italy's Marco Bezzecchi completing the front three, also on Kalex machines.

Spain's Jaume Masia of KTM took pole in Moto 3 with countryman Jeremy Alcoba and Argentina's Gabriel Rodrigo, both on Hondas, joining him at the front.

The renewed season is taking place amid strict coronavirus prevention measures that have included a bio bubble for participants and the offer of vaccines to anyone in the paddock.


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