MotoGP: Marc Marquez wins tight race for Qatar pole; Bradley Smith third
World champion Marc Marquez started his title defence in fine style by claiming pole for Sunday's Qatar Grand Prix.
Last Updated: 22/03/14 8:52pm
The Spaniard's fastest lap of one minute, 54.507 seconds was less than a tenth quicker than compatriot Alvaro Bautista with Britain's Bradley Smith close behind in third.
Marquez was claiming his 10th pole in MotoGP and 38th overall, overcoming the lingering pain of a broken leg he suffered less than a month ago that led to doubts about him racing at Losail.
He broke his right leg in a dirt-bike accident in his native country at the end of February and admitted in the run-up to the floodlit opener that he was nowhere near 100% fit.
"Sunday is the most important," he said. "The leg will be difficult at the end of the race because I'm getting tired, I do a lot of power with that.
"Anyway, I will try. Tomorrow I think we can do a good race."
Smith was also bouncing back from a nasty highside crash in practice on Friday, an incident he admitted he was "lucky to be walking away (from) without any injury".
The top six qualifiers were covered by less than two-tenths with Andrea Dovizioso putting his Ducati into fourth place ahead of Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa.
Smith's former team-mate Cal Crutchlow, now riding for Ducati, qualified in eighth with British MotoGP rookie Scott Redding back in 16th place on his Honda just over two seconds off Marquez.