The debut of MotoGP's new knockout qualifying format began with Aleix Espargaro and Andrea Iannone leading the 'Q1' session in Qatar on Saturday night.

Unofficially billed as a chance for the CRT competitors to gain some TV time - and potentially embarrass the slowest manufacturer riders - Q1 consisted of all twelve privateers, plus Pramac Ducati team-mates Andrea Iannone and Ben Spies.

At stake were the last two places in the Q2 pole position shootout - which soon became a battle between the Ducatis and top CRT rider Aleix Espargaro.

Espargaro led most of the 15 minute Q1 session on his Aspar Aprilia, albeit with Iannone just 0.05s behind.

Spies' qualifying hopes took a knock - literally - before the session had even began, due to a hard fall at the end of the previous free practice. The Texan, who underwent major shoulder surgery after last October's Malaysian Grand Prix accident, had barely returned to the pits when he had to head out for the start of Q1.

But he couldn't quite do enough to progress, finishing Q1 in third place, 0.289s from Espargaro.

Espargaro and rookie Iannone thus advance to Qualifying 2, also of 15 minutes in length, where the top twelve places on Sunday's grid will be decided.

The ten fastest riders after Friday practice had already secured their places in Q2 and did not participate in Q1. Those riders not making the cut for Q2 will start in the order they finished Q1, from 13th on the grid onwards.

Qualifying 2 rider line-up:
Marc Marquez
Jorge Lorenzo
Cal Crutchlow
Valentino Rossi
Andrea Dovizioso
Dani Pedrosa
Alvaro Bautista
Nicky Hayden
Bradley Smith
Stefan Bradl
Aleix Espargaro
Andrea Iannone


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