Marc Marquez scorched to a shock pole position for the Portuguese Grand Prix sprint race to deny reigning world champion Francesco Bagnaia at the death.
The Spaniard managed to wrangle his way into Q2 with a record-breaking effort in Q1 – which he had to contest as a result of having crashed in his final gambit during FP2 on Friday – though a front running position looked unlikely given Hondas recent woes.
Jack Miller looked good to repeat his Friday heroics as he fired in another new lap record, a 1:37.549s to lead the way at the end of the opening runs ahead of Pramac Ducati’s Jorge Martin and Bagnaia, who suffered a fast crash at Turn 1 in the preceding FP3 outing.
Miller’s chances for pole were dashed though after the Aussie crashed at Turn 3 at the start of his final run, paving the way for Bagnaia to bang in a stunning 1:37.290s to snatch away provisional pole.
Marquez still had something up his sleeve however and utilised a handy slipstream from Bagnaia’s factory Ducati team-mate Enea Bastianini to post a 1:37.226s – a time enough to score him an unlikely pole for the season opening sprint encounter on Saturday afternoon.
Bagnaia was thus forced to settle for second on the grid, while Martin completed the front row on his Ducati.
Home hero Miguel Oliveira also impressed to claim fourth for RNF Aprilia having also navigated his way through Q1, while Miller’s opening performance was enough to keep him fifth just ahead of Bastianini.
Maverick Vinales was seventh on the first of the factory Aprilia’s ahead of VR46 Ducati duo Marco Bezzecchi and Luca Marini, while Johann Zarco completed the top ten on the second of the Pramac-run Desmosedici’s.
Fabio Quartararo meanwhile suffered a disastrous session on his Yamaha as he once again fell into Yamaha’s struggles over a single fast lap, the Frenchman’s 1:37.920s leaving him a distant 0.694s adrift of Marquez’s benchmark and ahead of only Aleix Espargaro, who suffered a crash at Turn 13 during the session.
Alex Marquez will take the start of the sprint race from 13th having narrowly missed out on progressing from Q1, with the other factory Honda of Joan Mir and the factory KTM of the injured Brad Binder slotting in behind.
Franco Morbidelli’s 2022 struggles continued at the start of the new season as he lumbered to only 17th on his factory Yamaha, while sole 2023 rookie Augusto Fernandez will line up 19th on his premier class racing debut ahead of RNF’s Raul Fernandez and Fabio di Gianantonio’s Gresini Ducati.
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