2016 MotoGP: Qatar Qualifying Results

The first pole of 2016 goes to the reigning World Champion Lorenzo with Marquez and Viñales on the front row.

2016 MotoGP Qatar qualifying, Jorge Lorenzo
Reigning MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo©Motorcyclist

Q2 was a great unknown for the riders with the new Michelin tires, most riders feeling the new Michelins would take five or six laps before they were in an ideal operating condition. But as the second qualifying session got underway, riders were able to immediately push and set some of their best times of the weekend during their opening assault. All riders opted for a two-run strategy, most coming in with just over five minutes of the session remaining. It proved tense till the end as a multitude of riders were setting red sectors until the flag came out.

For the 36th time in his premier class career, Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) will start from pole position. The Majorcan set a 1’54.543 on his second lap to secure the first pole of 2016. He pushed for a fast time during his second run but a moment forced him to sit up, ending his chances of improving. Lorenzo now heads into the race looking for his first podium finish in Qatar since 2013. His title defense has gotten off to a perfect start, but the three-time MotoGP World Champion now needs to convert his pole to a strong race result.

After Thursday few would have expected Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) to start on the front row, yet alone challenge for pole position. Due to the hard work of his team and Marquez’s ability to push his motorcycle to its limit, the Spaniard set a 1’54.634s to line up second on the grid.

2016 Qatar qualifying, Marc Marquez
Marc Marquez©Motorcyclist

Completing an all Spanish front row was Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) who managed a 1’54.693 on his final lap of the session, 0.004s back on second. This is Viñales’ second front-row start in the premier class, his second place start at the Catalan GP in 2015 producing a sixth place finish. Under a tenth of a second split the front row, one of the tightest Qualifying sessions in recent years.

Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team) had been on pace for a front row start until Viñales bumped him back. Known for his aggressive style, a second row start will likely not hinder Iannone come race day as both he and Lorenzo have been able to make the new Michelin tires work within just a few laps.

2016 Qatar qualifying, Maverick Viñales
Maverick Viñales©Motorcyclist

Fresh off announcing a new two-year contract with Yamaha, Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) completed the top five. He, Viñales and Iannone were among the last riders to set their fastest times, Rossi losing out in the final sector.

2016 Qatar qualifying, Andrea Iannone
Andrea Iannone©Motorcyclist
2016 Qatar qualifying, Valentino Rossi
Valentino Rossi©Motorcyclist

In sixth was Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), making it an all-Spanish front row followed by an all-Italian second row. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team), Hector Barbera (Avintia Racing) and Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) were on the third row, making for another entirely Spanish row.

Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda), Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Yakhnich) completed the top 12, and formed an entirely British fourth row. All of the top 12 were within 0.965s, the new tires and electronics producing a stunning show for all the fans both at the track and watching the action.

With a top speed of 349.7km/h, Iannone proved that the Ducati is still a force to be reckoned with on the straights. His teammate, Andrea Dovizioso, was the second fastest rider down the long straight, hitting 344 km/h with Lorenzo the tenth fastest rider in a straight line during the Q2 session. Top end speed could play a defining role in the race with the finish line being a substantial distance from the final corner.

2016 Qatar qualifying, Hector Barbera
Hector Barbera©Motorcyclist

There was an unfortunate fall during Q1 for Aleix Espargaro (Team Suzuki Ecstar) as he slid off at Turn 1 before sprinting back to the pits for his second bike. He was able to head back out with four minutes of Q1 remaining. Alvaro Bautista (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) suffered a late fall during the session at Turn 14. Both were unhurt. There were no crashes during Q2.

Sunday March 20th will see the first MotoGP race of 2016, starting at 21:00 local time at the Losail International Circuit.

2016 Qatar starting grid
2016 Qatar Starting Grid©Motorcyclist