More, from a press release issued by Dorna:
The stage is set: Martin sets searing new pole record to head Bagnaia, Miller and Bezzecchi at Motegi
Friday’s freshly pressed lap record is already a memory as the number 89 comes out swinging on super Saturday, heading a host of serious contenders at the front
Saturday, 30 September 2023
Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) was absolutely untouchable in qualifying for the Motul Grand Prix of Japan, setting a 1:43.198 new lap record to book a first class ticket to pole position. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) put in another impressive comeback under pressure in the final minutes to cut the gap to just 0.171 as the Championship leader takes second, with 2022 Motegi winner Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) completing the front row.
Q1: MARQUEZ VS QUARTARARO
As ever, it was a star-studded Q1 and one with plenty on the line for Honda and Yamaha on home turf. And it was Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) and Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) setting the early pace and trading fast laps on the first runs.
On take two, the number 93 shadowed El Diablo out of pitlane, setting in motion a tandem push for the top. But a late attack from Raul Fernandez (CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP™ Team) split the duo on the timesheets with just under two minutes remaining, and on the final lap around, Quartararo couldn’t hit back – with track limits also biting for the number 20.
Marquez kept his place at the top, the only rider in the 1:43s, with Raul Fernandez moving through in second.
Q2: SHOCK EARLY DRAMA
One headline was made almost immediately as Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) suddenly barreled out at Turn 13, rider ok but then facing a race back to the garage to try and reset. Meanwhile, Martin had taken over on top and Marquez, who had been following Bezzecchi, had latched on behind the number 89 instead.
Martin, however, was just on rails, and banged in that 1:43.198 to head the timing sheets ahead of Miller by more than half a second, three tenths quicker than Brad Binder’s (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) Friday lap record.
With seven minutes to go, Bezzecchi was back out, a little out of sync with the rest as the majority sat in the pitlane ready to head back out on Run 2. But once that second bite at the cherry began in earnest, the spotlight was instead on Bagnaia. He was within a tenth of Martin’s lap before making a late mistake and losing out, putting himself under some pressure to move up from fourth. But that he did, taking over in second next time round as he managed to cut the gap to the top to 0.171.
Miller improved again to end the session 0.353 off pole but on the outside of the front row, with the timing screens then largely dormant as few found late improvements. Bezzecchi, however, did manage to take fourth, just ahead of Binder.
Martin heads Bagnaia and Miller, with Bezzecchi right in the mix in fourth ahead of Binder. Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) continued his impressive speed in Japan to take sixth, with Marquez heading Row 3 in seventh.
The eight-time World Champion is joined by Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) and teammate Aleix Espargaro, with Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) unable to move up from tenth. Raul Fernandez, from Q1, pipped Pol Espargaro (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3) to P11.
Then comes Augusto Fernandez (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3), the first to miss out on Q2, with Quartararo down in P14 just ahead of Joan Mir (Repsol Honda Team) as the number 36 suffered a late crash in Q1 that put paid to a very hot lap.
The stage is most definitely set for some stunning racing! So you know what to do…