After finishing Friday’s MotoGP FP2 fastest with a new official lap record, the Monster Energy Yamaha rider went even better during today’s crash-heavy qualifying session.
While several riders were tasked with picking up their machines from the gravel trap during Q1 and Q2, Quartararo continued his impressive weekend to clinch pole by two tenths from Jorge Martin.
So with that said, can anyone stop Quartararo from taking his first win of the season?
- Fabio Quartararo claims pole - Marc Marquez crashes twice
- Indonesian MotoGP: Full results from Qualifying
- Indonesian MotoGP: Full results from Free Practice 4
- Indonesian MotoGP: Full results from Free Practice 3
- Indonesian Moto GP: Full results from Free Practice 2
After seemingly sorting out their qualifying woes, factory KTM riders Miguel Oliveira and Brad Binder have positioned themselves as firm favourites to challenge the Frenchman.
Wet or dry, Oliveira has been a regular top five runner, which has also been the case in both qualifying and race trim.
Although Binder has not been as consistently towards the front as the Portuguese star, the third-year MotoGP rider looks to have just as good a race pace as Oliveira.
Furthermore, it should be stressed that Binder is as much of a ‘Sunday man’ as there is on the grid. The former Moto3 world champion will set off from P4 on the grid which is his best ever MotoGP qualifying result, while Oliveira will start from seventh.
A firm favourite heading into the weekend was Pol Espargaro, not just because of his podium in Qatar, but also last month’s test which he topped.
And if you took FP1 as a guide for the race, then Espargaro would have boosted that claim even further as he once again finished fastest.
However, the weekend has slowly worsened for the Spaniard who missed out on a top ten spot in FP2 and therefore had to go through Q1 because of damp conditions affecting FP3. Surprisingly, Espargaro never came close to advancing and will start the race from P16.
Just as big a pre-weekend favourite was team-mate Marc Marquez, who began his season with a fifth in Lusail.
But with the Honda rider continuing to struggle with the front end of his RC213V machine, uncertainty regarding his chances of victory remained heading into today.
And while Marquez was able to be fast at times in free practice - topped FP3 - predominantly in mixed conditions, qualifying was a total disaster for the eight-time world champion.
Marquez first crashed at turn 13, before a second fall at turn 12 occurred on his final run. Clearly pushing way beyond his limit, Marquez will start from 15th and has done very little to prove that a win or even podium is now possible.
Although not unheard of for a rider to come from that far back and challenge, we have a hard time believing Marquez can pull off such a result tomorrow.
The same assessment goes the way of Joan Mir who will start even further back in P18. After Alex Rins’s mechanical failures in FP4, and Mir looking a shell of himself this weekend, Suzuki are perhaps the least likely with regards to claiming a top five result
Rins will start in eighth which is the same position that Mir was able to achieve during qualifying for the Qatar MotoGP. However, Rins will need to sort out his late race pace if he’s to contest for a podium finish.
While Suzuki might find it hard to challenge for a top five or better, the same goes for Aprilia who looked to be on course for a top four in qualifying.
Fourth after the initial runs, Aleix Espargaro then crashed at turn ten which brought his session to a disappointing end.
In regards to his team-mate, it’s been another quiet and somewhat subdued weekend for Maverick Vinales.
Although there’s visibly huge potential for Vinales with the 22 RS-GP, the former Yamaha rider is struggling to extract the maximum performance, whether that be qualifying or race trim during practice. Vinales has yet to finish inside of the top ten in a session so far this weekend.
Last but certainly not least is Ducati who arguably pose the biggest threat to Quartararo or any other rider aiming for victory.
A trend over the last season, Ducati will have four bikes inside the top six positions for the start of tomorrow’s Grand Prix as Martin leads the way.
Even though it’s proving difficult to unleash the full potential of the Desmosedici GP22 engine, the raw pace from the likes of Martin, Johann Zarco and Francesco Bagnaia has been very evident so far this weekend.
With conditions potentially being wet for the race, that’s another obstacle facing Quartararo that is likely to favour the Ducati riders - we’re thinking Bagnaia and in particular Jack Miller are ones to watch should it rain.
Championship leader Enea Bastianini also can’t be ruled out whether it’s dry or wet as the Gresini man will start from fifth.
When choosing who we believe will take the win tomorrow, several key factors need to be considered.
It goes without saying that those on the first two rows will have a great chance, not only because of their race pace, but because of the level of competitiveness and how difficult it typically is to challenge from further down.
However, the first-ever Mandalika MotoGP will most likely be a race where overtaking is even more difficult than normal due to the ideal racing line being very thin.
Another key factor could be the weather… Should it rain then pole sitter Quartararo is likely to struggle somewhat, even though improvements have been made in this area compared to two seasons ago.
While Quartararo has been without question the top dog over one lap. We at Crash.net are picking Brad Binder for victory.
Consistency with regards to race pace, momentum being on his side following a podium in Qatar, a KTM RC16 that looks as good as it has during the Austrian manufacturer’s time in MotoGP and mixed conditions almost a certainty, we can think of no one better than Binder to pick as the favourite.
Our podium prediction goes as followed:
Third: Francesco Bagnaia
Second: Fabio Quartararo
Winner: Brad Binder