Marco Bezzecchi streaked to a third MotoGP pole position of 2023 for the Indian Grand Prix, the VR46 rider just sliding ahead of title contenders Jorge Martin and Francesco Bagnaia.
The VR46 Ducati pilot continued the strong speed he had shown all weekend in the early innings of the pole shootout by slotting into second overall behind Martin as the opening runs were completed, the latter posting a new fastest lap of the weekend on a 1:44.153s.
Martin struggled to improve upon his benchmark as the final attacks progressed though, leaving Bezzecchi to string together a stunning effort to go fastest with just a couple minutes left on the clock, his 1:43.947s leaving him a couple-tenths-of-a-second clear of anyone else.
Martin looked to be well off on his final lap as he crossed the penultimate split three-tenths down on his rival, though a blistering final split saw him reduce the margin to just 0.043s, his time good enough to keep him second behind Bezzecchi.
Bagnaia just lacked the ultimate pace to take it to his fellow Ducati riders, though still edged out the other VR46 entry of Luca Marini to claim the final spot of the front row in third.
Joan Mir meanwhile put in an impressive showing to complete the top five on his factory Honda just ahead of team-mate Marc Marquez, the duo lapping only half a second from Bezzecchi’s benchmark as the Japanese marque’s RC213V continued its love affair with the Buddh International Circuit.
Johann Zarco improved late on to claim seventh just ahead of factory Yamaha man Fabio Quartararo, while Aprilia duo Maverick Vinales and Aleix Espargaro were surprisingly off the pace down in ninth and tenth respectively.
Q1 graduates Raul Fernandez and Alex Marquez completed the 12-man Q2 field after the former failed to improve upon the effort he managed in the opening session, which would have put him fifth in Q2, while the latter failed to post a lap. This was because Marquez had to attend the medical center after a crash late in Q1 that left him winded.
Fabio Di Gianantonio missed out on a pole shootout berth by just 0.010s and will thus start 13th for both Indian races ahead of KTM’s Brad Binder, whose efforts were curtailed by yellow flags for the second time in as many days.
Takaaki Nakagami managed to post his time just before the yellows, shown for Marquez’s crash at Turn 5, which was good enough to split the factory KTM’s of Binder and Jack Miller in 15th overall.
Franco Morbidelli failed to join his team-mate in Q2 and could secure only 17th for Yamaha, while Miguel Oliveira also struggled while his RNF Aprilia team-mate reached the pole shootout, the Portuguese managing a time that put him a lowly 19th for both encounters.
Pol Espargaro will start 20th for GasGas, while stand-in riders Stefan Bradl and Michele Pirro completed the grid for the LCR Honda and factory Ducati teams respectively.
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