Suzuki has confirmed plans to pull out of MotoGP at the end of the season, with the manufacturer citing economic factors for its decision.

The Japanese marque had been recently mooted to quit the series, and that was made official in a statement on Thursday that said talks were taking place with MotoGP promoters Dorna Sports.

The Suzuki statement read: "Suzuki Motor Corporation is in discussions with Dorna regarding the possibility of ending Suzuki's participation in MotoGP at the end of 2022.

"Unfortunately, the current economic situation and the need to concentrate its effort on the big changes that the automotive world is facing in these years, are forcing Suzuki to drastically decrease racing-related costs and to use all its economical and human resources in developing new technologies.

"We would like to express our deepest gratitude to our Suzuki Ecstar team, to all those who have supported Suzuki's motorcycle racing activities for many years and to all Suzuki fans who have given us their enthusiastic support."

Dorna Sports reacted to initial reports of Suzuki considering pulling out of the championship by saying terms of its agreement with MotoGP meant the manufacturer could not make such a decision unilaterally.

"However, should Suzuki depart following an agreement between both parties, Dorna will decide on the ideal number of riders and teams racing in the MotoGP class from 2023," the Dorna Sports statement read. "Dorna continues to receive high levels of interest from a number of both official factories and Independent Teams looking to join the MotoGP grid."

Thursday's confirmation of talks with Dorna appears to have brought Suzuki's exit a significant step closer.

Suzuki Ecstar won the team title in 2020, when Spanish rider Joan Mir triumphed in the riders' championship. Mir and the team both finished third in 2021.

In an apparent response to the announcement, Mir posted on social media a picture of his 2020 celebration with team staff, with the message: "You are the best! Always in my heart.".

Fabio Quartararo won a MotoGP race for the first time this season, sending him top of the championship after a routine victory in the Portuguese Grand Prix, with Johann Zarco in second and Aleix Espargaro third.

Quartararo won the last Portuguese Grand Prix in 2021, although failed to finish in the top 10 in his other two MotoGP appearances at the Algarve International Circuit (14th in 2020 Portuguese GP and did not finish at the 2021 Algarve GP).

However, despite winning last year's championship, the Frenchman's previous race win was at the British Grand Prix in August.

Quartararo eased past Joan Mir early in Sunday's race in Portimao, though, and never looked back as he cruised to the win, while all the drama happened behind him.

Previous championship leader Enea Bastianini crashed out on lap 10, appearing to clip the seam of the curb at turn eight before sliding off the track while in 10th place.

Mir was left fighting for second place and was eventually overtaken by a determined Zarco, but things were to get worse for the Spaniard as Jack Miller, while attempting to pass on the inside, slid his bike and took both of them out of the race at the start of lap 16.

Mir has now gone six races in a row without a podium, which was already his worst run in MotoGP since his first 20 races in the top category between 2019 and 2020.

It was a performance to remember from Alex Rins, though, as he took his Suzuki from 23rd all the way up to fourth, making up a remarkable 13 places on the opening lap alone.

Elsewhere, there was some good old-fashioned racing between the Marquez brothers near the end of the race, with Marc ultimately getting the better of Alex to take sixth place.

TOP 10

1. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha)
2. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) +5.409
3. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) +6.068
4. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) +9.633
5. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM) +13.573
6. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) +16.163
7. Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol) +16.183
8. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo) +16.511
9. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda) +16.769
10. Maverick Vinales (Aprilia Racing) +18.063

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Riders

1. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) 69
2. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) 69
3. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) 66
4. Enea Bastianini (Gresini) 61
5. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) 51

Teams

1. Suzuki Ecstar 115
2. Aprilia Racing 91
3. Monster Energy Yamaha 86
4. Red Bull KTM 81
5. Pramac Racing 79

Aleix Espargaro conceded he was fearful heading into the final session of Saturday's qualifying ahead of the Portuguese Grand Prix.

A crash-laden Q1 at Portimao saw Remy Gardner and Francesco Bagnaia, who has finished on the podium in his last two races at the Algarve International Circuit, crash, with the latter failing to set a time.

Johann Zarco produced a stunning lap to come out on top in Q2 to take pole and spare Ducati's blushes, finishing ahead of Joan Mir and Espargaro, who across four races this season has collected 50 points, more than in two of his previous five whole seasons with Aprilia (44 points in 2018 and 42 in 2020).

Reigning champion Fabio Quartararo – the winner at Portimao last year – also struggled in the wet, though the Yamaha driver overcame a tricky moment to clinch fifth on the grid, while Marc Marquez, chasing his 100th MotoGP podium this weekend, was left to rue a yellow flag, having initially set the fastest lap.

After negotiating the difficult conditions, a relieved Espargaro was thrilled with his efforts.

He said: "I hate to say it – I was scared! Today I was scared, the wet patches were very slippery.

"When you are sitting in the garage and see many crashes, and all the crashes have been huge. You have to be very focused but you cannot be.

"I tried to feel perfectly the whole track to see where I could push in the last five minutes. I am very happy, this is like a victory because I hate these conditions, so I'm super happy."

Having recorded a time of 1:42.003, Zarco, too, acknowledged the state of the track made assessing where and when to push hard difficult.

"Pretty, pretty happy. I did not expect it to be so good. It was so tricky," the Frenchman said.

"I was pretty happy to go straight through Q2. I couldn't analyse the Q1 well. The best strategy was to stay on track, do the full 15 minutes with the same tyre to get confidence with the track, it worked pretty well for me."

Mir, meanwhile, revelled in taking a place on the front row for just the second time in his MotoGP career.

"In normal conditions we always struggle to make one lap but in tough conditions we can give a little but more," the Suzuki Ecstar rider said.  

"My feeling is improving. We are following good steps, we are improving and it looks like when we make a good step [forward], we don't go back. So it's important. Let's see if we can go faster tomorrow, but it will be a hard race."

Enea Bastianini recorded his second victory of the 2022 MotoGP campaign, beating Alex Rins and Jack Miller to win the Grand Prix of the Americas in Houston, Texas.

The Italian became the first rider to rack up two victories this term after starting fifth on the grid, overtaking Miller with five laps to go in a fiercely competitive race.

The 24-year-old, who claimed his first MotoGP win in Qatar's curtain-raising race last month, made a strong start to fight his way into contention early on, entering second spot with nine laps to go.

Bastianini then passed Miller and pulled clear of the Australian, who dropped into third as Alex Rins clinched a second consecutive podium finish, keeping him second in the drivers' championship standings.

The Gresini rider ended the race 2.058 seconds ahead of his nearest rival, maintaining his lead at the top of the early-season riders' standings.

Elsewhere, Jorge Martin made a solid start from pole position, but suffered a poor end to the race in which he dropped to fourth with eight laps to go, and to eighth by the time he saw the chequered flag.

Marc Marquez suffered a horrendous start in Texas, dropping as low as 17th in the early stages, but recovered somewhat to finish sixth, while Joan Mir and Francesco Bagnaia rounded out the top five.

World champion Fabio Quartararo, meanwhile, finished in seventh as he struggles to match his terrific early-season form from 2021, and Aleix Espargaro could only manage a 13th-placed finish, one week after his sensational maiden victory in Argentina.

TOP 10

1. Enea Bastianini (Gresini)
2. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) +2.058
3. Jack Miller (Ducati) +2.312
4. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) +3.975
5. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) +6.045
6. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) +6.617
7. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) +6.760
8. Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) +8.441
9. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) +12.375
10. Maverick Vinales (Aprilia) +12.642

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Riders

1. Enea Bastianini (Gresini) 61
2. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) 56
3. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) 50
4. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar)) 46
5. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) 44

Teams

1. Suzuki Ecstar 102
2. Red Bull KTM 70
3. Aprilia 69
4. Gresini 61
5. Pramac Racing 59

Aleix Espargaro held off Jorge Martin in Argentina to land the first MotoGP win of his career – Aprilia's first race victory since the team's 2015 return.

The 32-year-old Espargaro had claimed Aprilia's first pole position with an impressive qualifying performance in Termas de Rio Hondo, and followed up to claim a long-awaited grand prix win in a thrilling race.

Espargaro landed the landmark victory on his 200th MotoGP start, and he had to be at his best to overcome compatriot Martin in an absorbing contest.

It was not plain sailing for Espargaro after his slow start allowed Martin to snatch an early advantage, which he maintained for 17 of 25 laps.

Martin, who crashed out of races in Qatar and Indonesia during his nightmare start to the season, lost the lead to Espargaro on the fifth turn of lap 18 but forced his way back to the front of the pack shortly thereafter.

Espargaro then passed Martin again at the same point of lap 21, holding on during a nervy ending to secure the triumph by 0.807 seconds.

Alex Rins finished third and Joan Mir recovered from an eighth-placed start to grab fourth place, meaning Spanish riders occupied each of the top four positions in Argentina.

Reigning MotoGP world champion Fabio Quartararo dropped as low as 13th during the early stages but recovered to finish comfortably inside the top 10.

Enea Bastianini, who stormed to a thrilling success in the season-opening Qatar Grand Prix last month, could only manage 10th, ceding first place in the riders' championship to Espargaro, who now leads the championship for the first time in his career, sitting seven points clear of Red Bull's Brad Binder.

TOP 10 

1. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia)
2. Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) +0.807
3. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) +1.330
4. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) +1.831
5. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) +5.840
6. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM) +6.192
7. Maverick Vinales (Aprilia) +6.540
8. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) +10.215
9. Marco Bezzecchi (Team VR46) +12.622
10. Enea Bastianini (Gresini) +12.987

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Riders
1. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) 45
2. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM) 38
3. Enea Bastianini (Gresini) 36
4. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) 36
5. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) 35

Teams
1. Suzuki Ecstar 69
2. Red Bull KTM 66
3. Aprilia 58
4. Monster Energy Yamaha 49
5. Pramac Racing 44

Francesco Bagnaia's late-season rally did not come in time to push Fabio Quartararo all the way for the 2021 MotoGP title, but the Ducati rider's outstanding form has shown him how to compete next year.

Quartararo clinched the championship at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix when second-placed Bagnaia dramatically crashed out.

On Sunday, at the Algarve Grand Prix, Bagnaia – starting from pole for a fifth consecutive race – won while Quartararo crashed.

If not for his untimely previous retirement, the Italian would be still within touching distance of the season leader heading into the final round.

"If I had the win in Misano, today was perfect for me," Bagnaia told a news conference. "But it's not like this."

Bagnaia's result clinched second and also delivered the constructors' championship for Ducati, who now lead the teams' standings, too.

But attention can start to turn towards next year, when Bagnaia will hope to be competitive from the outset.

"I think we didn't lose the championship in Misano," he said. "I lost a lot of points before and I started to be so competitive after some races.

"For sure, it's a really great base for next year. Also we have worked so hard and so well with our bike, so for next year we have a really great base."

Of course, Bagnaia would have to cope with significant pressure if he were to lead the title race from the outset, and he acknowledged riding this week without the championship on the line was an easier experience.

"I didn't change it compared to Misano," he explained. "But in Misano, I was trying to [keep] open the championship but I was knowing that it was very difficult to win it.

"Today, if I had the win in Misano, for sure Quartararo was not crashing. I was racing without the pressure of the championship, so I just did the same thing."

Quartararo took the title from Joan Mir, who is also keen to respond in 2022 after a difficult championship defence.

He finished second on Sunday for the second time this year but has not won a single race and said Suzuki would have to work on a "better base".

For now, Mir was simply delighted to be back in contention on race day, saying: "Honestly, I'm so happy, I'm especially happy for this podium.

"It's not for the result, it's more for the weekend that we did. It was unbelievable. I felt so good from the first moment and I was able to be competitive from FP1.

"Then, as Pecco said, when you feel good with the bike and the base is good, everything came easily. What I needed was a weekend like this one."

Francesco Bagnaia and Jack Miller both lauded the impact Casey Stoner had on their rides after the Ducati duo sealed a one-two in qualifying for the Algarve Grand Prix.

Though Fabio Quartararo already has the MotoGP world title sewn up, the rest of the field are still fighting for position and second-placed Bagnaia set a record lap time at Portimao in Q2 on Saturday.

That effort saw the Italian sensationally claim pole position for a fifth straight race. This is the second run of the same rider taking five poles in a row this season after Quartararo also did so.

Miller had provisional pole, but Bagnaia snatched first place on the grid away from his team-mate and then improved to a final time of 1:38.725.

With Stoner a guest of Ducati throughout the weekend, as well as for the Valencia Grand Prix, both Bagnaia and Miller expressed their desire for Ducati to employ a rider coach for next season, with the Australian – who won the MotoGP title in 2007 and 2011 – a prime candidate.

Bagnaia told a news conference: "It could be a nice present from Ducati to have Casey as a coach next year.

"It's a different point of view, he's a legend and it's different to have a coach, because in Ducati we don't have a coach and for me it helps a lot.

"Maybe next year we can have him. But for me today he helped a bit for the last corner, the exit of the last corner, and it was useful."

Miller, a compatriot of Stoner, added: "It's fantastic to have Casey at the last two grands prix.

"He's got a family and lives on another side of the world, so the idea of that working out I think could be too hard logistically and whatnot.

"But I'd be all for it 100 per cent. But like Pecco said, it is really nice, I've worked with spotters on track and he's not a normal spotter – let's say it like that.

"It's Casey Stoner, a legend, one of the best ever. But I think it is something we're missing in our programme and I think it is definitely something we need to look at maybe introducing into the programme.

"I'm not saying we can get Casey, I'm more than happy to have him, but somebody."

Behind the Ducati duo, Joan Mir of Suzuki Ecstar claimed third. Remarkably, it is the first time the Spaniard, who won the title in 2020, will start on the front row in a MotoGP race.

"Maybe starting in the first row it will help to be more in front and have the situation a little bit more under control," said Mir, who expanded on a heated exchange he had with Alex Marquez at the end of the session.

"Well, Alex was following me I think until FP3 in all the sessions, also FP4 and the first exit in qualifying and the second one he was waiting again," he explained.

"If he didn't disturb me then it's not a problem, but in that moment I made the first lap quite slow to warm up the tyres; the lap time was not bad, but I was warming the tyres and I had just one lap left, but then he decided to overtake me on the braking and went wide. 

"That's why I was angry. Alex came to the box to apologise which is something I appreciate. At that moment I was not happy because I could not get the 100 per cent today."

Pol Espargaro will hope to be celebrating at the end of Sunday's British Grand Prix, yet the Spaniard already feels like a winner after surprising even himself by claiming pole position.

Espargaro had arrived at Silverstone after struggling in the previous two rounds of the MotoGP season in Austria, failing to score any points by recording successive 16th-place finishes.

However, the 30-year-old belied his recent lack of form with a stunning qualifying performance, securing his first pole for Repsol Honda as he squeezed out Francesco Bagnaia by just 0.022 seconds.

Jorge Martin initially appeared to have set a new fastest lap in the closing stages of the final session, only for his time to be wiped out after it was discovered he had cut the Vale chicane. He will instead start from fourth position.

Championship leader Fabio Quartararo will begin from third, but this was a memorable day for Espargaro as he looks to get back scoring points again, having not gone three in a row without collecting something since he was at KTM in 2018.

"Yeah, it's a little bit shocking after how tough Austria was, how we've been able to come back here," Espargaro said in his post-qualifying interview.

"It's difficult to believe, but there are different ways to take these bad moments – in a sad way, or in an angry way. We opted to take the second option.

"I tried to be every day a little bit better. I’ve been working so much, but unluckily the results were not coming.

"Here, everything is coming much easier. Sure, the track, the weather is cold, the extra grip we have in this track gives me the feelings, I have to apply my riding style and maybe to forget a little the problems we have in the pit box with the bike.

"Also, this place has been good to Honda in the past years, so let's enjoy today. Today this pole felt like a victory."

Quartararo admitted the choice of soft tyres had initially caused him some issues on Saturday, though he was happy enough after a switch helped him achieve his target in qualifying.

"Today I've been struggling so much with the soft tyre," the Frenchman, who is the only MotoGP rider to claim points in every race so far this season, told the media. "I was not feeling great on the bike, but with the medium tyre I was immediately feeling better.

"I was struggling so much in acceleration. The main goal was to be on the front row, and we will not touch anymore the soft tyre. I’m happy about my pace – and also the tyres."

Marc Marquez and Aleix Espargaro join Martin on the second row, while Valentino Rossi, who has finished on the podium in four of his five most recent appearances at the British GP, ended up in eighth, sandwiched between Jack Miller and Johann Zarco.

Joan Mir, meanwhile, has work to do from 11th place. The reigning world champion sits level with Bagnaia in second place in the standings on 134 points, 47 adrift of leader Quartararo.

MotoGP championship leader Fabio Quartararo enjoyed a "good day" at the Styrian Grand Prix, as his podium finish and Jorge Martin's win extended his lead at the top of the standings.

Quartararo finished third in a race that was suspended for half an hour due to an early crash, which saw two bikes engulfed in flames.

Both riders – Dani Pedrosa and Lorenzo Savadori – escaped relatively unscathed, though the latter was unable to restart the race.

The restart benefited Martin, who had set a record time at the Red Bull Ring to take pole position in Saturday's qualifying session.

Francesco Bagnaia had overtaken the Pramac Racing rider but, despite an early attack from Jack Miller after the restart, Martin recovered to cruise to his maiden MotoGP triumph.

Behind Martin, Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) claimed second, with Quartararo nipping into third – Miller's hopes fading when he skidded off the track at Turn 7 with 10 laps remaining.

Quartararo (172) now has a 40-point lead over Johann Zarco, who finished sixth, in the championship standings, with Mir further behind on 121.

"It feels so good because when there is a red flag it is always tough," said Quartararo.

"I was extremely good on the braking on Turn 3. I knew that there was a possibility to overtake and did it.

"I don't really know the position of the other guys apart from Joan and Jorge finishing in front. I am so happy. The best goal was to finish on the podium and we did it. So happy for Jorge, he took some points off Joan, so a good day."

Martin, meanwhile, was ecstatic after achieving what he labelled the first step on his path to pushing for world championship glory.

"I can't believe it, I don't believe it, that's why I'm not so excited! I think the ride was amazing. I kept a really constant pace. I was super focused," said the 23-year-old.

"Even if I did some mistakes, my target was to win the race. Joan was impressive today, he was behind me almost all the race but then in the last laps I tried a bit more and I took a gap for the lead.

"The last laps I was thinking about things – everyone who has helped me to be here – that's why I did worse in the last laps but I had this gap to manage. Thanks to all my family, this is one big step towards my big area to be world champion."

Reigning world champion Mir said: "Today was close. I'm happy because all weekend we have been there, overall.

"I needed a couple of faster laps to fight with Jorge, he did a great job. We must push a bit more, find something more for next weekend if we want to be on the top of the podium.

"I am proud of the team, they have done a great job and finally, the performance is higher, so happy and proud of them."

Marc Marquez had forecast the need to "gamble" on Sunday, but he was angry with his execution after crashing twice at a flag-to-flag French Grand Prix he briefly led.

The Repsol Honda superstar was hoping for a wet race to give him the best chance of a first victory since his injury at Le Mans.

The looming dark clouds delivered early in Sunday's race and Marquez, starting from sixth on the grid, stormed into contention.

Aiming for a fourth French GP win – only he and Valentino Rossi have three MotoGP victories – Marquez emerged from the pit lane in the lead after switching bikes.

That advantage did not last long as a dramatic fall saw the Spaniard flip through the air after flying off the slippery surface.

Yet that was not the crash that upset Marquez, who continued the grand prix and had recovered to reach 11th when he skidded off the track a second time and was ruled out.

"In the rain, I had a better chance of having a good race, but also of crashing," he told Sky Sport. "In the dry, I saw that there was a limit, but after the flag-to-flag I felt good.

"In the first crash, the bike slid a lot. Even with the medium tyre, at the beginning, I had to be a bit calmer, but it can happen.

"Then I got back on the bike and I was running very fast. The second fall is the one that angers me most.

"The first could happen because it was wet, I was warming the tyres... it happened to many riders.

"The second makes me angry because I was pushing too hard even though I was struggling to stay 100 per cent focused on the bike. At that point, I was thinking more about getting back in to put on the dry tyres than about riding.

"That's why it made me angry. There is a risk and I need to manage it better."

Although Marquez shouldered his fair share of blame, he was disenchanted with the performance of his Repsol Honda bike.

He said: "If it is a step back, what can be used to take the races more calmly? If we look at the Honda crashes, it's not just me. All our bikes have crashed.

"We're working on it. It is true that I crashed twice in Jerez, though.

"Here, due to the conditions we had, we had a good weekend, but today was not a good Sunday. Today I was not good, I didn't risk when I had to risk and I risked too much when I didn't have to."

Marquez was not the only former champion to make a costly mistake, with 2020 title-winner Joan Mir unable to finish after his own crash.

The Suzuki Ecstar rider went down approaching the pit lane and then dashed towards his second bike on foot when the damaged first would not restart.

The failure to enter the pit lane with his machine meant Mir was not allowed to continue.

"I don't know what happened honestly," he said. "For my part, I have to say sorry to the team because I made a mistake.

"I saw that the bike was not running and I started to run to the box. I knew I had to come with the bike, but the bike was a bit damaged and I started to run.

"I don't know why, the adrenaline or something. But from this experience I will learn for the future, I will not repeat it, that's for sure."

Victory instead went to Jack Miller for the second race running, his tally of MotoGP wins swelling from one through 102 grands prix to three through 104.

Miller ran off into the gravel at one stage and later had to serve a double long-lap penalty, but he has back-to-back wins for just the second time in all categories, having also achieved the feat in Moto3 in 2014.

"That was hectic, very hectic," he said, adding: "It's absolutely amazing. I can't believe it.

"Back-to-back wins like this are just fantastic and I can't thank the team enough. They're awesome."

Fabio Quartararo revealed how a change in mindset has helped him enjoy a strong start to the new MotoGP season after making it two wins from three races in 2021.

After prevailing in Qatar in the previous round, the Frenchman came out on top in an action-packed Portuguese Grand Prix in Portimao, despite a shaky start from pole position.

Quartararo – who rejoiced by copying Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal celebration – was aided by Alex Rins crashing out when second, giving the leader breathing space at the front of the field.

"My start was good, but unfortunately others made better. I'm so happy, because honestly, I didn't expect to make that pace. The pace was so strong," Quartararo said.

"I knew we had a little bit of extra pace from Alex. He was running so fast then he made a mistake, but the pace that we set was unexpected from myself.

"But it feels great to enjoy that track a lot. It's a unique track."

The Monster Yamaha rider now leads the way in the standings, having approached the campaign with a more positive attitude. Francesco Bagnaia ended up taking second place in Portugal with reigning MotoGP champion Joan Mir completing the podium.

"Yamaha made a big step compared to last year, but for more mentally I feel stronger," Quartararo explained to the media.

"I've learned a lot – last year, when the bike was not going so great, I was always thinking negatively. I've totally changed – feeling positive always.

"I arrived here and knew that the bike was working, and even those things that weren't working so well, I wasn't thinking about them. To set the pace we did was not easy, but I was focused."

Suzuki Ecstar's Mir recorded his first top-three finish in the embryonic stages of the season, a result he was happy with considering Yamaha have dominated so far with three straight victories.

"I knew that if I was unable to overtake in the last laps, it would be impossible to overtake in the straight," said Mir. "But it was a positive weekend overall.

"This is probably not the best track for me and I was able to finish on the podium, so I'm happy.

"In warm-up I felt really strong, but in the middle of the race I felt some trouble with some parts of the bike. In the last laps I managed to survive and was able to maintain a positive pace.

"This is not the best start to the championship for us, for me. But at both Qatar and here we were fighting for the podium.

"It is our goal to be fighting in Jerez and Le Mans too, then I expect to be stronger, but now I have to survive and score as many points as possible."

Fabio Quartararo claimed his first MotoGP race win since Catalonia last year as Monster Yamaha secured a second successive Grand Prix triumph in Qatar.

Quartararo has been open about his struggles with the pressure of mounting a championship bid in 2020 but, having worked closely with a psychologist in recent months, will be hoping his win in Doha is the start of something special.

It was already a momentous occasion for rookie Jorge Martin, who secured pole in just his second outing in qualifying for a premier-class event, and the Spaniard held firm at the front for much of the race.

With his Pramac Racing team-mate Johann Zarco for company at the front, Martin looked in good shape but there was always a sense some of the big hitters from further down the field were just biding their time.

Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was the first to make his move but ultimately lost out in his tussle with Zarco, while reigning champion Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) engaged in some risky jostling as they looked to get themselves in position for a late surge.

The pair touched a couple of times, including a particularly hefty bump on lap 13 that saw them exchange gestures, though both stayed up.

Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) also looked a threat for a while but misjudged the first turn at the start of lap 17 and lost four places.

It was around this time that Quartararo, who started fifth, began to make his move as he looked to match his Monster Yamaha colleague Maverick Vinales' win last time out.

It did not take him long to get around Zarco and by the end of the 18th lap he had passed Martin, who quickly responded only to be overtaken once again by the persistent Quartararo.

Martin kept the pressure on but Quartararo never looked unduly worried in the final stages, while Zarco finally managed to pass his rookie team-mate to finish second and seal successive podium finishes.

Jorge Martin will start Sunday's Doha MotoGP on pole after stunning the field in qualifying but the rookie insists the race win will belong to someone else.

The Spaniard nudged Pramac Racing team-mate Johann Zarco into second place with a superlative display, with Maverick Vinales – who won the season-opening race in Qatar – in third.

It was a phenomenal result for Martin on just his second outing in qualifying for a premier-class event, but the 23-year-old refused to get carried away as he lowered expectations ahead of the race at the Losail International Circuit. 

"It's difficult to describe my feelings," he said of his first pole. "In the first run, I was behind [Joan] Mir and I felt super confident, I was catching him so fast, and I said, 'Okay, I need a faster bike [to follow]'.

"I was hoping to be behind Pecco [Francesco Bagnaia] but he wasn't improving at all, so I said, 'Okay, it’s my time to boost, my time to demonstrate who I am'.

"For sure, I didn't expect to make pole; I was expecting to be front four, front five.

"When I finished the lap and I was up there in first position, it's unbelievable. This is so great. Tomorrow – another day to learn because for sure it's not my day to win.

"If we can fight for a top six that'd be great and I will be super happy."

Martin picked up a point with a 15th-place finish last week, when Zarco and pole-sitter Bagnaia joined Vinales on the podium.

A best lap of one minute and 53.106 seconds saw Martin clinch pole this time around and Zarco admitted he was taken aback when he realised who had gone faster than him.

"I'm pretty happy, a low one minute 53 seconds was a good target to be on the first row," said the Frenchman.

"When I saw this one minute 53.2 seconds when I crossed the finish line I expected to be on pole.

"But when I understood it was the 89 on pole, my team-mate, I was a bit surprised.

"I'm happy anyway because it's all going too perfect for Pramac team – first and second and it's just happiness to take. It has been great."

Provisional classification

1. Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) 1:53.106
2. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) +0.157
3. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) +0.161
4. Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) +0.197
5. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) +0.363
6. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) +0.548
7. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) +0.599
8. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) +0.639
9. Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) +0.679
10. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) +0.688
11. Stefan Bradl (Repsol Honda Team) +1.118
12. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) +1.990

Maverick Vinales got his 2021 MotoGP campaign up and running with a season-opening victory as he charged up from fifth at the Qatar Grand Prix.

Pole-setter Francesco Bagnaia could not get away from the chasing pack, which included Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) and his Ducati team-mate Jack Miller.

With defending world champion Joan Mir – starting in 10th – and fellow Suzuki rider Alex Rins struggling to keep pace initially, it was Monster Yamaha's Vinales who made his move.

Finding himself in fifth with 15 laps remaining, Vinales closed the gap on Bagnaia by the time the final seven came around.

After threatening once but being held off, Vinales spotted a gap and dived through to take a lead he would not relinquish.

Bagnaia's race looked set to go from bad to worse when he dropped out of the top three altogether.

It left Zarco and Mir tussling for second, and last year's champion had the edge on the last lap yet, in a remarkable twist, he fell short on the final corner.

Mir appeared to run wide, with his exit speed dropping and allowing Zarco to clinch second – Bagnaia, who had blitzed the Losail lap record in qualifying, battling back to mark his first race for Ducati with a podium finish.

Fabio Quartararo completed the top five, with Mir's team-mate Rins finishing sixth.

There was misery for Takaaki Nakagami, who crashed out on turn nine midway through the race, with Danilo Petrucci's Tech3 KTM debut also coming to a premature end.

Francesco Bagnaia targeted "a really great result" at the Qatar Grand Prix after setting a stunning lap record on his factory Ducati debut.

Third-year MotoGP rider Bagnaia had finished 15th and 16th in his two seasons with Pramac Racing but has quickly focused on loftier ambitions following his bow with the factory team.

Ducati - winners of the previous two Qatar GPs with the since-departed Andrea Dovizioso - had been fast all week at the season opener, with Jack Miller setting the practice pace in his 100th grand prix with a best time of one minute and 53.387 seconds ahead of second-placed team-mate Bagnaia.

But Bagnaia later suggested he had believed he could run in less than 1:53 in qualifying and so it proved, a magnificent 1:52.772 setting a two-wheel lap record at the Losail International Circuit.

That was enough for a healthy 0.266-second gap to Fabio Quartararo, while Bagnaia gave veteran Valentino Rossi - a four-time Qatar winner - a tow to take him to the front of the second row.

Rossi has 10 podiums at Losail and his next in MotoGP will make him the first to 200.

Even from his commanding position, Bagnaia could be forgiven for being pessimistic after his year-high six abandonments in 2020 - including five in the final eight races - but he was full of positivity following an outstanding display.

"I'm very happy," he said. "Already yesterday I was thinking it was possible today to arrive at (1:)52.

"In the second attempt, when I started pushing, I thought it was possible. After the third sector, I was very close to this lap time.

"I'm very happy; my first pole position in my first race with this team. I would like to make everything possible to finish the race tomorrow in the best way possible. I think we can make a really great result."

Miller had to settle for fifth, next to Rossi, as he pursues a third straight podium for the first time in his career following two to end 2020.

Quartararo also had reason to be disappointed with his day as he mistimed his second run and the chequered flag denied him the opportunity to challenge Bagnaia.

Another debutant at a factory team, Yamaha's Quartararo won the first two races of the season last year but has had only one podium in 12 outings since.

The 21-year-old, who has colleague Maverick Vinales - the 2017 Qatar winner - behind him in third, said: "It's a shame I couldn't do the second lap on my second run. I had the chequered flag for a second.

"But I'm quite happy. I think we did a great lap. We tried something in FP4 that was bad, honestly - I didn't feel great on the bike. But I feel that we have great potential for tomorrow.

"We will go with that bike for the race because it's the one that I feel good [on]. I think we made too much changes today, but I'm feeling happy.

"I think we did a great, great job in the qualifying. Now we're just missing the race. I can't wait."

Neither the Ducatis nor the Yamahas should have to worry this weekend about defending champion Joan Mir, who failed to capitalise on the absence of Repsol Honda great Marc Marquez.

Mir was forced to contend in Q1 and will start from 10th, having finished eighth in his only previous Losail entry in 2018.


Provisional classification

1. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) 1:52.772
2. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Yamaha) +0.266s
3. Maverick Vinales (Monster Yamaha) +0.316s
4. Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha) +0.342s
5. Jack Miller (Ducati) +0.443s
6. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) +0.514s
7. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha) +0.541s
8. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team) +0.543s
9. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) +0.718s
10. Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) +0.910s
11. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda) +0.949s
12. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda) +1.158s

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