After a brilliant opening lap from both Martin and Marco Bezzecchi, it was MotoGP title contender Francesco Bagnaia who seized his opportunity by going quickest. 

Not letting the Ducati rider out of his sights, championship leader Fabio Quartararo moved into third place and crucially on the front row.

Further back, Marquez was fifth after the opening run although it could have been P1 had he not lost the front at turn ten.

Marquez produced an epic ‘save’ in order to stay aboard his Repsol Honda machine, however, it did cost the eight-time world champion top spot after being up by two tenths going into the final three corners. 

As the final runs began, Marquez again positioned himself directly behind Bagnaia, but this time it worked to perfection as the Spaniard used the tow provided by Bagnaia to go +0.013s down on the eventual pole time.

That time was set by Martin after the Spaniard got the better of Jorge Lorenzo’s nine-year-old lap record. 

Bagnaia was pushed down to third but it was a very good day for the Italian who will line-up one place ahead of Aleix Espargaro and two in front of Quartararo.

Zarco and Rins advance to Q2 as disaster strikes for a championship hopeful

Of the five MotoGP title contenders, Enea Bastianini was the only one needing to go through Q1, joining Johann Zarco who had topped half the practice sessions leading to this point.

Miguel Oliveira, winner last time out in Buriram, was also taking part in Q1 for KTM who have endured a very difficult weekend so far. 

After back-to-back fastest laps from Joan Mir, Bastianini bolted to the top of the leaderboard by just 0.014s.

However, Bastianini was quickly usurped by Zarco who gained a full tenth of a second in the final sector. 

After setting a lap time good enough for second, Mir’s session came to an early end after making a mistake at turn six. 

The Suzuki rider got it wrong under braking which resulted in him running off circuit and into the gravel. 

Like the opening run, Zarco managed to find stunning pace in sector four as he went back ahead of Pol Espargaro and Mir after the two Spaniard momentarily went first and second.

Directly behind Zarco, Alex Rins took advantage of his favourable on track positioning to go second.

Then came drama for Bastianini as the Gresini Ducati rider, who was on a lap good enough for second, lost time after being hindered by a slow-moving Oliveira at turn nine.