Fabio Quartararo will start the Thai Grand Prix from pole position after breaking the all-time circuit record at the Chang International Circuit.
The Petronas Yamaha rider broke the lap record twice on his way to pole number four of his rookie season in MotoGP. Quartararo took the circuit record away from Marc Marquez, who was fighting with all he had to try and overcome the French rookie.
Ultimately, Marquez would push too hard and hit the deck for the second time this weekend. The reigning champion tucked the front going through turn five. He will start tomorrow’s race from third.
Quartararo and Marquez will be separated on the grid by Maverick Viñales. The Monster Yamaha man was only +0.106s slower than Quartararo, hinting that tomorrow’s race will be a close one.
Franco Morbidelli impressed again on the second Petronas bike to secure fourth. Meanwhile, Danilo Petrucci was the top Ducati rider in fifth. The Italian appears to have found something a litter extra after some disappointing performances over the last few rounds.
Jack Miller and Andrea Dovizioso will line-up in sixth and seventh respectively. Dovizioso has a job on his hands if he is going to prevent Marquez clinching the title this weekend.
Joan Mir qualified eighth to be the top Suzuki rider. Valentino Rossi suffered a crash on his opening run and could only manage ninth. The Doctor is seemingly unable to match the pace of his fellow Yamaha riders.
Alex Rins completes the top 10, with Pol Espargaro (11th) getting the better of his brother Aleix Espargaro in 12th.
Qualifying 1 – Petrucci Makes the Cut
Petrucci topped the opening qualifying session in a welcome return to form. The Mugello race winner produced a 1:30.685 on the first quick lap of his second run.
That was more than enough to overcome the challenge of Pol Espargaro, who also made it through to Qualifying 2. The KTM rider was impressive on his return, just two weeks after breaking his wrist.
Cal Crutchlow narrowly missed out and will start tomorrow’s race in 13th. The Brit was second at the end of his first run, but was clearly struggling heading down into the final turn. The bike was out of control on the brakes, and this ultimately cost Crutchlow.
Takaaki Nakagami is next in 14th, just ahead of Francesco Bagnaia. The latter may have challenged the top two, but he tucked the front and crashed at turn seven.
Andrea Iannone and Miguel Oliveira will start 16th and 17th respectively. Tito Rabat is next in 18th, ahead of Jorge Lorenzo on the Repsol Honda.
Karel Abraham, Mika Kallio and Hafizh Syahrin complete the grid.
Qualifying 2 – Record-Breaking Quartararo
Viñales set the early marker in Qualifying 2 with his fastest lap (at that time) of the weekend so far. However, Marquez was building up momentum and went top with a 1:30.109.
Meanwhile, Rossi’s opening run came to a premature end at turn five. The nine-time champion lost the front and slid off into the gravel.
Back on the circuit, Quartararo stunned everybody with a 1:29.920. This was a brand-new lap record at the Chang International Circuit. The fight for pole was on.
Marquez tried to fight back immediately before the end of his first run, but fell just +0.011s short of top spot.
Whilst everybody else returned to the pits, Viñales remained out on the circuit. With clear air, the Yamaha man continued to push but was unable to make any improvements. He would now only have time for a one-lap second run.
Both Quartararo and Marquez would lose time on their opening laps back on the circuit. Quartararo went wide at turn one, whilst Marquez was simply off the pace. The dynamic duo were building up for another battle.
It was Quartararo who crossed the line first, posting a remarkable 1:29.719 lap-time. Marquez had been quick through the opening two sectors, but would push too hard into turn five. The Spaniard lost the front going over the mid-corner bump and hit the deck for a second time this weekend.
On the circuit, Viñales was ready to pounce on his final quick lap of the day. His 1:29.825 lap-time was enough to move him up into second, demoting Marquez to third.
Quartararo would also crash in the closing seconds of the session, however he had already done enough. He will start on the front-row for the ninth time in this, his rookie MotoGP season.
Tomorrow’s race starts at 08:00 (UK Time).