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With the title fight hotting up, qualifying for both the Sprint and the Grand Prix took place in Motegi and Jorge Martin has made his intentions clear, as he took his second pole position of the season.
With a stunning late effort that broke the lap record around the Japanese track, Brad Binder topped the timesheets in practice, marginally ahead of Francesco Bagnaia. The championship leader struggled to get into the top ten, but when he did he challenged for first. Aleix Espargaro was three tenths behind, with Jorge Martin and Marco Bezzecchi also crucially advancing straight to Q2.
The rest of the top ten was completed by Fabio di Giannantonio, Johann Zarco, Maverick Vinales, Pol Espargaro and Jack Miller, with KTM seemingly proving very strong in the stop-start nature of the layout at Motegi. Miguel Oliveira was eleventh, half a tenth behind the Australian.
As such, no Japanese bike made it into the top ten, the fastest being twelfth-placed Joan Mir. Behind him were Fabio Quartararo and Marc Marquez, as the both riders crashed in the closing minutes of practice. Alex Rins was slowest of all and withdrew from the weekend, as he felt a lot of pain in his first attempt to ride a MotoGP bike after his big injury at Mugello, back in June.
MotoGP Motegi 2023 qualifying 1
Marc Marquez recorded a rapid laptime around Honda’s home race track to gain promotion in Q2. He was half a tenth faster than Raul Fernandez, who has kept up his positive form with another Q2 participation. Augusto Fernandez, Fabio Quartararo and Joan Mir all missed out narrowly, the latter suffering a fall in the closing stages of the fifteen-minute session as well.
Miguel Oliveira could not emulate his teammate’s achievement and will only start sixteenth, ahead of Franco Morbidelli and Takaaki Nakagami. In his only start of the season, Cal Crutchlow will start his wildcard appearance from nineteenth on the grid, in front of Stefan Bradl (who replaced Alex Rins) and Enea Bastianini’s replacement, Michele Pirro.
MotoGP Motegi 2023 qualifying 2
For only the second time in 2023, Jorge Martin has claimed pole position and it has come at a crucial time for him. The Spaniard managed to beat his championship rival, Francesco Bagnaia by 1.7 tenths at the end of the session, setting the stage up for a fascinating fight between the pair.
Both riders were considerably faster than the rest of the field, starting with a surprise in the final front row slot, which was taken by Jack Miller. The Australian has struggled at points recently, but Motegi is a circuit that suits him very well. Marco Bezzecchi started the session with a heavy tumble, but recovered and will start both races from fourth.
BIG DRAMA FOR BEZ! 😱
— MotoGP™🏁 (@MotoGP) September 30, 2023
Brad Binder was fifth fastest, while the sole Gresini Ducati of Fabio di Giannantonio made it into sixth. Marc Marquez beat the Aprilias to take seventh ahead of Maverick Vinales and Aleix Espargaro. Tenth went the way of Johann Zarco, with Raul Fernandez and Pol Espargaro rounding up the Q2 standings.
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