Luca Marini will start the Indonesia MotoGP in pole position after smashing the circuit lap record in Saturday’s qualifying, as championship leader Francesco Bagnaia failed to reach the second qualifying round for the first time this season.
Marini, who rides a Ducati for VR46 Racing, blazed around the Indonesian track to post the first-ever sub-1m30sec lap at the Mandalika circuit, clocking in at 1 minute, 29.978 on a dry surface in hot conditions.
It was his first-ever MotoGP pole and came three weeks after a crash at the India MotoGP sprint race left him with a fractured collarbone.
The Italian was followed 0.031 seconds later by Aprilia’s Maverick Vinales, and 0.154 seconds later by his Aprilia teammate Aleix Espargaro as the lap record set a day earlier by Espargaro was repeatedly smashed.
“I am really satisfied with the job we have done. I think the sprint and race on Sunday will be really tough,” Marini told reporters.
“I will try to do my best and let’s see what we can achieve.”
Vinales said he thought he had pole before missing out by a whisker.
“I said I can’t believe it, I ride so fast. Congratulations to Luca,” he told reporters.
A frustrated Bagnaia will start in the middle of the pack after failing to get out of the first qualifying round, finishing 0.243 seconds behind Q1 leader Marini and Enea Bastianini in second.
It was the first time the Ducati rider finished outside of Q2 this season.
The poor qualifying performance, his worst of the season, dealt a blow to Bagnaia’s championship hopes, with his closest rival, Jorge Martin of Prima Pramac Racing, claiming 6th place for Saturday’s sprint race and Sunday’s main event.
But Bagnaia’s main challengers — Martin, who is just three points behind in the standings, and third-place Marco Bezzecchi — failed to cause maximum damage to Bagnaia as both crashed in qualifying.
Bezzecchi took 9th after being cleared to race just a week on from surgery for a broken collarbone.
Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo and Red Bull KTM’s Brad Binder made up the second row with Martin.
Gresini’s Fabio Di Giannantonio and Honda’s Marc Marquez joined Bezzecchi on the third row, while Red Bull KTM’s Jack Miller rounded out the top 10.