Marco Bezzecchi earned pole position during MotoGP qualifying Saturday at the IndianOil Grand Prix of India at Buddh International Circuit. Riding his Mooney VR46 Racing Ducati, the Italian lapped the new 3.1-mile (5.0 km) venue in 1:43.947 to lead the field of 22 riders.
Jorge Martin was second-best with a time of 1:43.990 on his Prima Pramac Racing Ducati, and defending World Champion Francesco Bagnaia claimed the third and final spot on the front row with a best lap of 1:44.203 on his Lenovo Team Ducati.
Row two qualifiers included Bezzecchi’s teammate Luca Marini (1:44.215) and Repsol Honda teammates Joan Mir (1:44.454) and Marc Marquez (1:44.489).
More, from a press release issued by Dorna:
Bezzecchi hits back to take first ever pole at Buddh International Circuit
A history-making pole goes the way of the number 72, with Martin and Bagnaia alongside… and Mir and Marc Marquez stealing some limelight
Saturday, 23 September 2023
The first-ever MotoGP™ qualifying at Buddh International Circuit served as the perfect precursor to the racing action at the IndianOil Grand Prix of India! Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) flipped the Friday form book to slam in a new lap record 1:43.947, pipping Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) by just 0.043. Championship leader Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) makes it a front row lockout for the top three in the title fight, in reverse order.
Q1: LATE DRAMA
It was always going to be a close one, with the depth of the field and at a whole new venue, and there was an extra dash of drama too as Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) went down late on. That brought out the yellow flags that would prove costly for some, and it also sent the Silverstone Sprint winner for a medical check, sidelining him from Q2. He was then passed unfit due to rib fractures, so he won’t be taking his place on the grid in India. Get well soon, Alex!
Having been second fastest in the session at the time he went down and no one able to improve though, the Gresini rider moved through to take that place up in Q2 – behind a second ever trip to Q2 for Raul Fernandez (CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP™ Team).
One of the riders whose Q2 ambitions ran afoul of the yellow flags was Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), just as his final Practice lap also got scrubbed off on Friday. The South African will be gunning for much more when the lights go out, starting P13 now Alex Marquez sits it out.
Q2: LAPS OF THE TITANS
After the banker laps came in, it was Martin on top as the riders returned to the pits. There was still plenty of life left in the Q2 session, however, and Martin and Bezzecchi lit up the timing screens on their first flyers back out of the box.
Bezzecchi struck in style with the first-ever 1:43 lap, and the benchmark would prove impossible to overcome. Martin managed to get within that tantalising half a tenth, and break into the 1:43s, but he couldn’t overhaul his compatriot.
Bagnaia came out of the pits fired up to move up the order too, after a more muted Friday especially. He also had Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) glued to his rear wheel, with Joan Mir (Repsol Honda Team) right behind both.
Bagnaia grabbed that front row, but the Hondas also made some positive hay. Marc Marquez took fifth but then just got pipped to it, with Mir edging out his eight-time Champion teammate by just 0.015s.
Behind the Bezzecchi, Martin and Bagnaia front row in reverse Championship order, Friday’s fastest was fast once again as Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) heads up Row 2 in fourth.
It’s Repsol Honda squad goals completing that second row as Mir takes fifth, by far his best qualifying result since his switch to Honda, and the 2020 World Champion pipped teammate Marc Marquez by just 0.015 as the number 93 slots into sixth.
Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) heads the third row just ahead of Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™), with Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) missing out on one spot higher up by just 0.017. He’ll start ninth, another tiny margin just ahead of teammate Aleix Espargaro.
Raul Fernandez takes P11, with Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) moving up to P12 ahead of Binder as the grid behind Alex Marquez moves up a place.
Repsol Honda back in the mix. Bagnaia not struggling, but seemingly not the favourite so far… and his two closest Championship challengers ahead of him on the front row. The stage is set for a history-making debut at Buddh International Circuit! Don’t miss it!