Unbeaten on Thursday and Friday - and with the special Open class soft tyre at his disposal for MotoGP qualifying - Aleix Espargaro was favourite to take a memorable debut pole on the new Forward Yamaha in Qatar.

But the soft tyre proved his undoing, changing the balance of his machine and sending Espargaro crashing into the gravel twice during the 15-minute Qualifying 2 shootout.

"Qualifying was a disaster. After FP4 I was confident because with the hard rear tyre the pace was really, really good. But as soon as we put the soft rear tyre on the front felt like it was floating a little bit. Not enough grip," he said.

Related Articles

"I crashed once and took the spare bike. Obviously the second bike was not the same feeling but even so I was quite fast, under pole position going into the last sector. But again I made a mistake and crashed. I just want to say sorry to my team because they will have to work really hard tonight."

Despite the double trouble, Espargaro still set a lap time just 0.479s behind Marc Marquez's pole position. However on the ultra-close timesheets that was only good enough for ninth on the grid.

"Tomorrow will be fun. We will start from the third row and we need to overtake a lot of riders, but I will push at 100 percent again we'll see what is the position. We'll need to really focus on the start and first laps to stop the front guys getting away... This was just qualifying, tomorrow is the most important thing."

Team-mate Colin Edwards will start 14th on the grid.