MotoGP Japanese GP: Marquez scores first pole in three years in wet qualifying



The heavens opened over the Mobility Resort Motegi and a pole position drought was also broken as Marc Marquez qualified fastest for the Motul Grand Prix of Japan. After a 90-minute delay to the schedule, the Repsol Honda Team rider set a 1:55.214 in a wet MotoGP™ Q2 session to score a first pole since the 2019 Japanese GP. Second went to Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing), while Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) made the front row for the first time in the premier class. Although there was joy for eight-time World Champion Marquez, none of this year’s three title contenders qualified any higher than sixth. That was Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing), with neither Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™ Team) nor Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) making the first two rows.

Marquez is back!

A thunderstorm during Moto2™ Q2 caused a 90-minute red flag period and the cancellation of MotoGP™ FP3, before Q1 for the premier class field finally got underway at 16:10 local time (GMT +9). That session also began in heavy rain but it had stopped by the time Q2 got underway and, although Michelin wet tyres were still in order, there was a rush to exit pits in order to take advantage of the conditions. Zarco, who had track knowledge from Q1, came out of the blocks quickest, and that was still the case when he set a 1:55.774 on his second flying lap.

Enter the Marquez. The World Champion is still recovering from a fourth operation on his right arm but signalled in FP1 and then FP2 – when he was also fastest – that he would be a threat in this, the second round of his latest comeback. He was only a narrow second to Zarco despite a small error at Turn 11 and then took over top spot with a 1:55.698 on his third flying lap. Marquez then slashed another seven tenths of a second of his personal best to tighten his grip on provisional pole.

Row 6 will be Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing MotoGP™), Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol), and Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar), while Row 7 is wildcard Tetsuta Nagashima (HRC Team), Remy Gardner (Tech3 KTM Factory Racing), and Joan Mir’s injury replacement, Takuya Tsuda (Team Suzuki Ecstar). Raul Fernandez (Tech3 KTM Factory Racing), Darryn Binder (WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP™ Team), and Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) all had crashes in Q1 as they qualified 22nd, 24th, and 25th respectively. The odd man out in the bottom four on the grid was therefore Cal Crutchlow (WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP™ Team) in 23rd position.

Can Marc Marquez continue the fairytale at Honda’s own circuit? Next up is Warm Up on Sunday at 10:40, then it’s lights out at Motegi at 15:00 (GMT +9)!

MotoGP™ Q2 Top 10:

1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) – 1:55.214

2. Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) + 0.208

3. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) + 0.323

4. Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) + 0.406

5. Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) + 0.472

6. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) + 0.557

7. Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) + 0.570

8. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) + 0.681

9. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) + 1.112

10. Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) + 1.140

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