Marquez Surprises With Qatar Pole

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Marc Marquez will start from the pole for Sunday's MotoGP opener in Qatar. (MotoGP Photo)
Marc Marquez will start from the pole for Sunday's MotoGP opener in Qatar. (MotoGP Photo)
Marc Marquez will start from the pole for Sunday’s MotoGP opener in Qatar. (MotoGP Photo)

DOHA, Qatar – MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez will start on the pole for Sunday’s first MotoGP race of the year at the Losail Int’l Circuit.

Alvaro Bautista and Bradley Smith will share the front row with Marquez.

Despite only returning to riding his Repsol Honda machine on Thursday after breaking his leg in preseason training, Marquez showed his rivals he means business again in 2014 with a great charge to pole with a 1:54.507 lap.

GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Bautista had provisional pole but eventually qualified second. Smith was also close to the top spot, missing out by less than a tenth. That result is Smith’s first ever premier class front row qualifying effort.

Another solid run for Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) sees him lead the second row, with Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) following in fifth and sixth respectively.  Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP) leads the third row with a time just .364 of a second off the pace, with Q1 participant Cal Crutchlow (Ducati Team) improving to eighth.

A disastrous session for Aleix Espargaro (NGM Forward Racing) saw him qualify ninth after walking away from two crashes. He led all three practice sessions ahead of qualifying on Saturday.

Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) starts in the unfamiliar territory of row four, ahead of Andrea Iannone (Pramac Racing) and Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech3)