Bezzecchi grabs pole at India MotoGP

"Was tough but this morning I felt better on the bike."

Italy’s Marco Bezzecchi claimed pole position at India’s MotoGP on a hot and humid afternoon at the Buddh International Circuit on Saturday.

The Ducati-VR46 rider clocked a top time of 1 minute, 43.947 seconds in the second qualifying, with Jorge Martin and world champion Francesco Bagnaia completing the front row at positions two and three.

But Alex Marquez was all but ruled out of Sunday’s race when the Spaniard — ninth in the standings — crashed on his Ducati-Gresini and fractured his ribs in the first qualifying session.

Bezzecchi scorched the track in extreme heat, which has forced organisers to chop Sunday’s race by three laps to 21.

“Was tough but this morning I felt better on the bike,” Bezzecchi said. “Very happy for this pole position. Important to start the sprint and tomorrow’s race at pole.”

Still in contention

Bezzecchi remains a contender for the 2023 title, 65 points behind championship leader Bagnaia.

Martin, who won the last race at Misano and is in second place in the table, 36 points behind Bagnaia, was 0.043sec behind Bezzecchi’s time on his Pramac-Ducati.

He said, “Back-to-back first rows, happy to be doing that. Happy to be here.”

The sprint race on Saturday has also been reduced to 11 laps instead of the usual 12 after riders complained of the heat, which is likely to increase on Sunday.

Bagnaia, on a factory Ducati, attempted to speed up in the final laps but was satisfied with a front-row position as he seeks to extend his championship lead.

Luca Marini finished fourth in the qualifying after he topped the second practice on Friday.

Honda riders Joan Mir and fellow Spaniard Marc Marquez complete the second row in fifth and sixth spots.

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