Francesco Bagnaia storms to pole in Qatar, sets new lap record

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Francesco Bagnaia storms to pole in Qatar, sets new lap record

Ducati’s Francesco Bagnaia sets the first ever sub 1m 53s lap at the Losail International Circuit to take pole position for the Qatar MotoGP Grand Prix.

Francesco Bagnaia set the fastest ever lap around Qatar as he took pole position on his first race weekend for the factory Ducati team.

Fabio Quartararo was fastest for Yamaha after the opening run and looked in great shape to take his first pole of the year.

But with three minutes remaining, Bagnaia set a blistering 1m 52.772s to secure top spot and become the fastest rider ever around the Losail circuit.

The Italian was the only rider to break the 1m 53s barrier with Quartararo holding on to second place ahead of team-mate Maverick Vinales.

Valentino Rossi was one of the stars of the show and will begin Sunday’s Grand Prix from the front of the second row, as the 42 year-old managed to tag onto the back of his VR46 academy rider Bagnaia.

The nine-time world champion went third fastest but was relegated to fourth by Vinales in the closing seconds.

Fifth and sixth were the Ducati’s of Jack Miller and Johann Zarco who will fancy themselves to challenge for the lead off the start due to their power advantage over the Yamaha’s.

Zarco set a new fastest ever recorded speed in FP4 as he clocked 225.1mph (362.4kph) down the main straight.

Starting seventh is Franco Morbidelli who is one of the favourites for victory come tomorrow’s race due to his race pace.

Eighth was Aleix Espargaro on the Aprilia who is another one similar to Morbidelli with great race pace, and ninth was Alex Rins.

In Q1 all eyes were on world champion Joan Mir who was the immediate pace setter. The Spanish rider left pit lane with a visibly determined look, and set a 1m 53.765s on his second lap as he led from Pramac Ducati rookie Jorge Martin.

That lap time would have been good enough to put Mir straight through to Q2 had he managed to do a similar lap in Friday’s FP2 session.

The 23-year-old was joined into Q2 by Takaaki Nakagami who went fastest as the clock hit zero.

The pair were not able to advance much further as Mir finished Q2 tenth, while Nakagami will start from 11th place ahead of fellow Honda rider Pol Espargaro.