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The grid for the first Indian Grand Prix, as well as the preceding Sprint race, has been set after an interesting qualifying session in the Buddh International Circuit. Once again, it is an all-Ducati front row, with Marco Bezzecchi heading the field this time.
Practice threw a few surprises in the mix at the new MotoGP venue. Luca Marini was fastest of all, albeit by just eight thousandths of a second. Jorge Martin was second, just ahead of Aleix Espargaro. Marc Marquez was fourth, on a good day for Honda, which got both riders into the top ten, as Joan Mir got the last position.
Marco Bezzecchi, Maverick Vinales and Francesco Bagnaia followed, all pretty close together. With Fabio Quartararo eighth, Yamaha also secured a Q2 position, ahead of another Frenchman, Johann Zarco. Brad Binder missed the cut, as he was caught out by the yellow flags which were brought out when Takaaki Nakagami crashed his LCR Honda.
MotoGP 2023 India qualifying 1
Raul Fernandez was a surprising promotion from Q1 to Q2, as a great performance put him top of the timesheets for the first segment of qualifying. The second rider to get promoted was Alex Marquez, who had a sizeable accident after he set his lap time. Despite finishing second in Q1, the younger Marquez brother did not take part in Q2 because he suffered a double rib fracture according to his team.
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The yellow flags that were brought out were costly for a few riders, including Fabio Di Giannantonio and Brad Binder. Takaaki Nakagami was fifth fastest, ahead of Jack Miller, as no KTM bike made it into Q2.
Franco Morbidelli, Augusto Fernandez and Miguel Oliveira followed, in front of Pol Espargaro. The two stand-in riders brought up the rear, with Stefan Bradl and Michele Pirro riding in the place of the injured Alex Rins and Enea Bastianini.
MotoGP 2023 India qualifying 2
Marco Bezzecchi claimed the third pole position of this season, as he set a rapid lap with two minutes remaining and he took pole by just 43 thousandths of a second. He is the first pole sitter of the Indian Grand Prix, at a track the riders have found very difficult over the course of the weekend so far.
With Jorge Martin and Francesco Bagnaia in second and third, the top three of the championship will start from the front row in inverse order, despite the championship leader having a messy final effort. Martin will hope to make an impact this weekend and reduce the 39-point gap that splits him from Bagnaia.
Luca Marini was fourth fastest, but the big surprise was behind him, as Joan Mir and Marc Marquez completed the second row of the grid, despite a light fall for the latter. Johann Zarco and Fabio Quartararo were seventh and eighth, while the two Aprilia riders could not do better than ninth and tenth, with Maverick Vinales ahead. Raul Fernandez was eleventh and Alex Marquez did not take part.
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