Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) and Jorge Martin (Ducati-Pramac), the two contenders for the MotoGP world title, scared each other but finally finished in the Top 10 of the qualifying tests for the Qatar Grand Prix, Friday, on the circuit of Lusail.
The reigning Italian world champion, who is ahead of his Spanish runner-up by 14 points - while there are 74 left to distribute, including 37 in Qatar, penultimate round of the season -, secured the essential by taking eighth place which ensures his ticket for the second part of qualifying (Q2) on Saturday, without having to go through the repechage (Q1).
In difficulty during a large part of the session, Martin entered the Top 10 in the last ten minutes and showed his annoyance on his return to the garage. At the start of the afternoon, however, he had achieved the best time in free practice 1.
In the evening, the Madrilenian finally took seventh place thanks in particular to several yellow flags displayed after falls and which led to the cancellation of several times of his competitors.
Bagnaia, third in the first session held at sunset, did not seem very comfortable at night either and also achieved his best time in the money-time.
To everyone's surprise, the best time in qualifying practice was achieved by the Spaniard Raul Fernandez (Aprilia-RNF), ahead of the Italian Fabio Di Giannantonio (Ducati-Gresini), still without handlebars for next season, and the Spaniard Maverick Vinales (Aprilia), who took first place in the final moments before seeing his time erased due to a yellow flag.
Seven-time Spanish world champion Marc Marquez (Honda) qualified at the last minute, finishing 10th after closely following Bagnaia to take advantage of his slipstream.
The Italian Marco Bezzecchi (Ducati-VR46), third in the championship, on the other hand disappointed by finishing only 15th. He will have to go through the repechage, just like the Australian Jack Miller (KTM) or the Italian Enea Bastianini, winner in Malaysia on Sunday and only 18th aboard the second official Ducati.
The two Frenchmen Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) and Johann Zarco (Ducati-Pramac), respectively 21st and 16th, will also have to go through the repechage.
The first was unlucky since he had achieved a time allowing him to enter the Top 10, but he was erased due to a yellow flag. As for the second, he crashed at high speed at the start of the session and then never seemed to be in contention even though he had set the second fastest time in free practice.
Ranking of the qualifying practice session for the Qatar MotoGP GP, Friday at the Lusail circuit (5.38 km):
1. Raul Fernandez (ESP/Aprilia-RNF) 1:52.843
2. Fabio Di Giannantonio (ITA/Ducati-Gresini) at 0.049
3. Maverick Viñales (ITA/Aprilia) at 0.093
4. Brad Binder (AFS/KTM) 0.112
5. Aleix Espargaro (ESP/Aprilia) 0.190
6. Luca Marini (ITA/Ducati-VR46) 0.251
7. Jorge Martin (ESP/Ducati-Pramac) at 0.352
8. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA/Ducati) 0.359
9. Augusto Fernandez (ESP/GasGas-Tech3) 0.446
10. Marc Marquez (ESP/Honda) 0.480
11. Jack Miller (AUS/KTM) 0.494
15. Marco Bezzecchi (ITA/Ducati-VR46) 0.861
16. Johann Zarco (FRA/Ducati-Pramac) 0.935
18. Enea Bastianini (ITA/Ducati) 1,094
21. Fabio Quartararo (FRA/Yamaha) 1,417