Maverick Vinales and Marquez set impressive opening laps in what were very tricky conditions, however, Jack Miller, reigning MotoGP champion Fabio Quartararo and Zarco all came across the line moments later with better lap times. 

Marquez regained top spot with his second flying lap, but Zarco was not to be denied as he bettered the Repsol Honda rider by just 0.036s.

There was a huge moment for Miller as the Australian nearly highsided off his Desmosedici GP22 machine.

 

Struggling for pace, Francesco Bagnaia returned to pit lane shaking his head before making a very quick bike swap.

One place behind Aleix Espargaro in 11th, Bagnaia then saw one of his title rivals move further up the order as the Aprilia rider went fifth, replacing Quartararo in the middle of the second row.  

Marquez then set another stunning time to go close to sixth tenths clear of Zarco, however, the French rider was responding to the challenge as was Brad Binder.

Both riders had red sectors on their penultimate lap but lost time compared to Marquez. 

Binder’s team-mate Miguel Oliveira also looked set to challenge Marquez before the Portuguese rider crashed. 

Despite facing more pressure from Binder on the KTM rider’s final lap, Marquez held on for his first pole since Motegi 2019.

For the three title contenders, Espargaro finished sixth, Quartararo ninth and Bagnaia’s awful Q2 saw him end up last (P12).

Bastianini out if Motegi MotoGP Q1 after second turn five fall

After suffering a late crash in FP1 which led to him failing to secure a top ten spot, Aragon MotoGP winner Enea Bastianini was the surprise name included in Q1. 

Also joining the Italian in Q1 was Zarco who also crashed in the only dry session of the weekend so far. 

Nursing a severe right hand injury following his incident with Marquez at Aragon, Takaaki Nakagami ran into early trouble as he crashed on his right side at turn 14. Darryn Binder was the next rider to fall as he went down at turn three.

At the front, Jorge Martin was in complete control as he led a Prima Pramac 1-2 from Zarco.

However, it was proving to be a difficult session for Bastianini who was down in ninth with just three minutes of Q1 remaining. 

Finding pace just when he needed it, Bastianini eventually moved up to third before disaster struck for the title contender. 

The Gresini Ducati rider went down at turn five for the second time this weekend after suffering a front-end fall. 

There was a late fall for Raul Fernandez while Alex Rins was heavily impacted by yellow flags as he could only manage eighth (18th on the grid).