Francesco Bagnaia narrowly missed out on a sixth consecutive MotoGP pole position after Jorge Martin bettered the Italian on his final Q2 effort. 

With just three minutes left of qualifying two, Bagnaia looked set for an eighth pole of the year after back-to-back fastest laps.

The 2021 title runner-up went four tenths clear of team-mate Jack Miller and Martin who had previously set identical lap times on the opening run.

However, a crash after pushing too hard in turn two, along with Martin’s incredible first sector which saw him gain two tenths alone, was enough to halt the Italian rider’s epic pole streak - a streak which was also a Ducati record for one rider. 

Bagnaia, who is the form of his life, joked that no matter how well he’s riding, crashing at turn two in Valencia is a constant theme.

"The only thing that has remained compared to past years is that I continue crashing in turn two [Bagnaia laughs]. I know why, but I always crash in turn two," added Bagnaia in the post-qualifying press conference. 

"I feel great, but today the pole position was more deserving to Jorge [Martin]. He did an incredible first sector. 

"I’m happy because the FP4 was great for us, also with used tyres. I think that we have a great possibility to make a great race tomorrow."

As highlighted by Bagnaia, the Italian rider’s used tyre performance is perhaps his biggest strength heading into Sunday’s race.

Bagnaia wasn’t necessarily faster than Miller, Martin or the Suzuki’s of Alex Rins and Joan Mir on any given lap during practice, however, it’s the consistent pace on used tyres which looked stronger than most and could therefore see him take a fourth win of the year tomorrow. 

Bagnaia used the soft, medium and hard tyres throughout the day, while Miller and Martin focused more on the medium and hard in particular. 

Speaking about the tyre situation heading into the final race of 2021, Bagnaia said Ducati’s strength in numbers (most bikes on the grid with six), is key to giving them more data to analyse.

"This is the luck of having more bikes on the grid. Everyone can try doing more laps with different tyres," said Bagnaia. 

"Jack [Miller] did a lot of laps with the hard and I tried the soft. But I think the choice will be the same for all the grid - medium I think will be the tyre. 

"The soft one was not so bad and I’m thinking about it, but for the medium I was very competitive. 

"It's been more than one week that we are working on that area with used tyres which has given me much more confidence."

Throughout today’s practice and qualifying, Bagnaia was seen giving mentor and soon-to-be retired Valentino Rossi a tow, a tow that propelled the nine-time world champion directly into Q2, before going onto take a rare top ten.

But, Bagnaia alluded to this not being planned before track action began, even though it was the ‘minimum I could do’.

Bagnaia added: "No, no (wasn’t planned). But, I did see him enter on the track before me, so it’s the minimum that I can do for him. He gave so much over the years to us so it’s the minimum I could do."