Pramac’s Jorge Martin clinched his third pole position on the trot for the season finale at Valencia GP’s qualifier on Saturday as title contenders Francesco Bagnaia and Fabio Quartararo could only manage eighth and fourth positions on the starting grid, respectively, for the title decider.
Martin’s undisputed 1m29.621s in the 15-min Q2 secured his fifth pole of the season. Six-time premier class champion Marc Marquez took P2 for the last race of the season in what has been an injury-beset season for the Spaniard.
Quartararo, who, at one point of the season, had a 91-point lead over his title rival, now needs to emerge victorious at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, provided that Bagnaia finishes 14th or lower, to retain his title.
The Yamaha-mounted Frenchman in his charge for a front-row finish, pushed his limits but ran into the gravel in his final lap, securing P4 on the starting grid for the Grand Prix of Valencia.
Bagnaia, who has a hand and four fingers on the title already, had a troubled Q1 as he pitted right after his first flying lap and ran off the track on his final lap in Q2. As a result, the Ducati rider’s 1m30.049s could only salvage a place in the third-row for the season’s finale.
Jack Miller, in his final qualifying for Ducati, secured P3. Suzuki’s Alex Rins will start P5 on the grid in what will be the manufacturer’s final outing before it shuts its MotoGP operations.
Maverick Vinales put his KTM sixth on the grid, ahead of KTM’s Brad Binder and Bagnaia. Johann Zarco and Aleix Espargaro completed the top-ten for the starting grid at Valencia GP.
If Quartararo doesn’t win tomorrow or Bagnaia manages a finish in the top 13, the Ducati man will become the first Italian rider to win the MotoGP title since Valentino Rossi 13 years ago.