For the third time in a row, MotoGP’ most in-form rider Francesco Bagnaia managed to secure pole position thanks to an incredible final lap at COTA. 

The Italian rider initially went four tenths quicker than Marc Marquez’ best time, before title rival Fabio Quartararo reduced that gap to +0.348s.

Bagnaia, who has made a habit of producing such a lap when it matters most, needed to do so as he was off the provisional front row at the time of setting his best lap - was also the case in Aragon and Misano.

And while pure performance hasn't come quite as easily for Bagnaia compared to the last two weekends when he went on to win, the pole margin today at COTA was bigger than both those rounds. No rider has got within two tenths of the 24 year-old since Aragon. 

Speaking about his qualifying, Bagnaia credited a breakthrough in FP4 for the improved pace: "I took some risk to do it because this morning I was more in trouble. Then we decided to stop and try to let the bike follow the bumps better. 

"I started getting a better feeling in FP4 and in the Q2 I was able again to have the same feeling. 

"It was easier for me to push more. Then when I saw I was down (faster) in the first sector by two tenths I tried to push more and I’m very happy because we started this weekend a bit in trouble and now we are again on top."

Bagnaia also became the first Italian rider since Valentino Rossi in 2009 to claim three consecutive poles.

This led Rossi to call Bagnaia’s riding of the Ducati the best he’s seen in several years, however, when asked about this, the VR46 Academy rider alluded to the early struggles he encountered in MotoGP and what he’s done to improve so much. 

"When I started with Ducati I was always crashing, my feeling was never very good. I was trying to push but my riding style was not adapting so well to the Ducati," added Bagnaia. 

"In Moto2 I was always with a lot of corner speed and in Moto2 you can’t brake so hard because the rear slide always. 

"When I arrive to MotoGP I was fast, but just because I did time attacks. It’s something I learned after because in MotoGP the top riders never do time attacks apart from maybe the first test of the season. 

"From Qatar we have started to work with used tyres because I was in trouble and was not feeling good. 

"Until this year I was without a good feeling. Last year I did two or three good races, but this year I think and I changed a bit my mentality on the bike, I feel that I know very well this bike and I adapt very well on the braking. 

"Now on the braking I can stop the bike very well and I feel great. Also I try to adapt the setting of my Ducati to my riding style in the corners."