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Qatar MotoGP: Marquez surprised by pole pace

Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez says he didn't expect to head the front row in Qatar, reveals concerns over race fitness
Marc Marquez admitted he was 'surprised' to secure pole position for Sunday's Qatar MotoGP following a sublime performance by the reigning world champion in final qualifying.

The 21-year-old only made his return at the Losail circuit following a six-week lay-off due to a broken leg, but Marquez showed no signs of ring rust as the Repsol Honda star romped to pole with a stunning final lap in Qualifying 2 on the RC213V.

Marquez, who heads the front row from Alvaro Bautista and Bradley Smith said: “I'm happy and it's a surprise to be up here, especially after yesterday when so many riders were near the top and the Open category riders were so strong with the soft tyre.

“But in FP4 we made a step, it looks like we've found the right way and I'm gaining confidence with each session.

“Tomorrow will be a hard race. There are so many riders within one or two tenths,” added Marquez, who earned his maiden premier class podium with third in Qatar last year.

“I've never seen it so close in MotoGP. It will be great for the fans but it could be hard for me at the end of the race because I'm struggling with the leg.

“I don't have enough strength and automatically I'm using my right arm more and it's getting tired. But I hope that, racing against the other riders and with the adrenaline flowing, it will be fixed and I can do a great race.”

Marquez's fastest time of 1m 54.507s gave him the number one spot by 0.057s over Bautista on the Gresini Honda, with Tech 3 Yamaha's Smith only a further 0.037s in arrears.

The top six riders, from Marquez to team-mate Dani Pedrosa, were covered by less than 0.2s.

Tagged as: Bautista , Smith , Marquez , Bradl

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