Jack Miller claimed a second consecutive MotoGP victory on Sunday after coming through a chaotic French Grand Prix in which Marc Marquez suffered a dramatic fall from first place and then crashed out.

Miller had just one win from 102 races in the top category heading into the Jerez event earlier this month but now has two from his past two.

The Australian's latest success was far from straightforward but then little was in a wet race at Le Mans.

Miller enjoyed a great start to get ahead of pole-sitter Fabio Quartararo, only for an error to let Maverick Vinales duck through into the lead.

However, after a dry start under looming black clouds, the rain Marquez had hoped for after qualifying duly arrived and Vinales swiftly fell back.

Six-time champion Marquez, without a podium since his return from injury this season, had trailed the front three until the white flag came out but was back tussling with Quartararo by the time the leaders arrived at the pit lane to swap bikes.

A costly error saw Quartararo approach the wrong mechanics, forced to sprint to his other bike as Marquez claimed the lead.

Meanwhile, Miller, who ran off into the gravel prior to the change, was then caught speeding in the pit lane and charged with a double long-lap penalty.

Marquez opted for the medium tyres and tore away from Quartararo into the lead, but the slipperiest section of the track proved his downfall as a brutal crash saw the Spaniard flip off his bike.

Quartararo, aiming to become the first French victor in the top category at this grand prix since 1954, could not hold off Miller despite the penalty, however, and was himself penalised for the earlier pit mix-up.

Miller built a healthy advantage, while Marquez's race was over when he crashed a second time attempting to recover from the back of the field, skidding off the track in 11th but walking away from the incident.

The drama was not quite done, though, as the track dried rapidly and Johann Zarco, who had passed compatriot Quartararo, closed on Miller in his own bid to end the wait for a home winner.

Miller did just enough to hold on, with French fans having to settle for a pair of riders on the podium, Zarco second and Quartararo third.

That was at least enough to take Quartararo – previously without a home podium in all categories – to the top of the 2021 standings as prior leader Francesco Bagnaia trailed him in fourth.

Marc Marquez is hoping for rain at the French Grand Prix in order to challenge pole-sitter Fabio Quartararo, although he acknowledges a tough, dry race may be better for his rehabilitation.

Repsol Honda superstar Marquez broke his arm at the first event of the 2020 season and failed to return, seeing his run of four straight MotoGP titles come to an end.

The six-time champion only made his comeback at the Portuguese Grand Prix and is still getting to grips with his bike again.

Marquez has finished P7 and P9 but will start from sixth on the grid at Le Mans on Sunday after a strong Q2 in which he briefly led the way and finished only 0.437 seconds off pace-setter Quartararo.

The Spaniard won on his past two appearances at Le Mans and has a joint-high three victories in France, but he recognises the weather will have to play in his favour this time.

"It's true that to have a dry race in a good pace is impossible at the moment, because only in six laps I struggled the last laps," he said after qualifying.

"But it's true that if it's wet it's more a gamble. Now is time to take that gamble."

He added: "On one side, I'd prefer a dry race, because like this I continue with my preparation, with my rehabilitation.

"But it's true that, if it's raining, it's not a problem for me. It will be less demanding for the physical condition and will be a lot better."

There is the potential for a wet race, according to the forecast, although similar was true of Saturday, resulting in "mixed" conditions.

When it was put to Marquez that he was "the master" in such scenarios, he corrected the reporter. "I was the master in those conditions," he said, emphasising the past tense.

Quartararo is now the man to catch, having secured pole position for a third consecutive grand prix for the first time in his career despite having surgery following an arm pump issue in a collapse last time out in Spain.

The 22-year-old is already the most successful French rider in MotoGP history with five race wins, yet the most recent home victor at the French GP in the top category was Pierre Monneret in 1954 and Quartararo has never reached the podium in any category at the event.

He started from pole last year, too, but came ninth, and said at Parc Ferme on Saturday: "In the last lap, I said I crash or I make front row.

"That was real, because in the last sector I pushed myself to the limit.

"I even didn't know until I arrived here that I made pole position. I saw the three bikes and I said, 'Oh, it's a shame we are not in the front row', and then I saw my mechanics moving.

"It's pole position and I'm so happy to make it two years in a row in my home GP."

An intriguing Sunday lies ahead, with world champion Joan Mir starting from 14th and 2021 leader Fabio Bagnaia 16th.


Provisional classification

1. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) 1:32.600
2. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) +0.081s
3. Jack Miller (Ducati) +0.104s
4. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha) +0.166s
5. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) +0.277s
6. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) +0.437s
7. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda) +0.520s
8. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda) +0.550s
9. Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha) +0.791s
10. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM) +1.267s
11. Lorenzo Savadori (Aprilia) +1.658s
12. Luca Marini (Esponsorama) +1.665s

Marc Marquez completed just seven laps at Monday's Jerez test as he dealt with the after-effects of his crash in practice at the Spanish Grand Prix.

The six-time MotoGP champion was involved in a significant fall on Saturday for the first time since breaking his arm at the same track in the 2020 season opener.

Marquez slid off at Turn Seven in FP3, although medical checks cleared him for the rest of the weekend. He also fell in the warm-up but finished a respectable ninth in Sunday's race.

The series has remained in Spain for testing this week, but Marquez's involvement was cut short due to stiffness in his shoulder and arm.

"Today we didn't really test, just one run because on the second run my body was already locking up," the Repsol Honda man said.

"My neck and my right shoulder were stiff; it's similar to after Portimao but I was not as locked up as I was after Portugal.

"The crash I had on Saturday didn't help with my physical condition.

"I thought that maybe today when my body had warmed up it would be better, and I could try but straight away I could tell I wasn't at a good level for riding.

"We spoke as a team and decided to stop the test. We need to understand that we're improving step by step and the next target is Le Mans where we will try to improve again."

Maverick Vinales led testing with a time of 1:36.879 from one of his 101 laps, topping his qualifying effort from two days earlier.

His team-mate Fabio Quartararo, who faded spectacularly from pole on Sunday due to an arm issue, was absent.

Spanish GP victor Jack Miller and championship-leading Ducati team-mate Francesco Bagnaia completed a combined 84 laps.

Jack Miller admitted his first MotoGP win in just under five years left him "sobbing like a baby".

The Ducati rider won the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday to finish at the top of the podium for the first time since the Dutch TT at Assen in June 2016.

Miller took the lead early in Jerez and despite being overtaken by Fabio Quartararo he held his nerve in the second half of the race to regain the lead.

Quartararo faded and the Australian passed the chequered flag in first place ahead of Ducati team-mate Francesco Bagnaia with Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) back in third.

"It’s out of this world, honestly. Ever since that chequered flag, ever since turn 12 I’ve been on this rollercoaster and it just keeps going," Miller told BT Sport.

"I’m crying and I’m sobbing like a baby. I don't know, it's too hard to put into words what I feel today.

"Last time I won it was a big old shock in the wet. This one I've definitely worked hard to get this."

Miller said he thought his chances of victory were gone when Frenchman Quartararo overtook him, but his near-perfect ride secured the win.

Quartararo slipped down to finish 13th as he surrendered his place at the top of the world championship to Bagnaia.

Miller added: "When Fabio [Quartararo] got past me I just thought he was going to bolt, he got nearly a second gap but then he plateaued off and started coming back to me so I just had to knuckle down and get past him.

"He began to really drop off as soon as I passed him so I knew then I had to just make my break and get away as quick as possible and try to manage my lead out front.

"It seemed like a tall order at the time as I still had like 12 or 13 laps to go and I was thinking ‘that’s a long time out front by myself’ but I was able to do it.

"I’ve never rode that precise, that good in my whole entire life. I don’t think I’ve done 25 laps in a row like that in my life. So, it’s fantastic to get that."

Jack Miller won the Spanish Grand Prix as the Ducati rider notched his first MotoGP victory since 2016.

The Australian made a superb start to lead and, despite being passed by Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) in the middle stages, he held his nerve in the second half of the race to return to the front.

Miller finished ahead of Ducati team-mate Francesco Bagnaia with Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) in third spot.

Quartararo slipped down to finish 13th as he surrendered his place at the top of the world championship to Bagnaia.

The Frenchman started poorly as he slipped from pole position to fourth as Miller surged ahead, but like the Portuguese Grand Prix last time out he initially recovered.

Quartararo overtook his rivals on the final corner of successive laps to regain the lead before he pulled one-and-a-half seconds clear at the front.

With 11 laps to go, a third consecutive victory seemingly beckoned for Quartararo, but he dropped two seconds on one lap, allowing Miller to seize the advantage.

Miller was able to hold on until the end as he secured his first MotoGP win since the Dutch TT at Assen in June 2016 and his eighth overall.

Quartararo lost further ground as Italian duo Bagnaia with Morbidelli scrapped it out for second, with the former edging it to make it a one-two for Ducati.

Six-time MotoGP champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) returned to the Jerez track where he suffered a broken arm last July –  an injury that kept him out for nine months – and came through unscathed.

Marquez, who had escaped injury in a big fall on Saturday and another accident in warm-up, started the race in 14th spot and eventually ended in ninth in his second race since returning.

Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) claimed fourth place as Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) both secured top-six finishes.

TOP 10

1. Jack Miller (Ducati) 41'05.602
2. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) +1.912
3. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) +2.516
4. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) +3.206
5. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) +4.256
6. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) +5.164
7. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) +5.651
8. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) +7.161
9. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) +10.494
10. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda) +11.776

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Riders

1. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) 66
2. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) 64
3. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) 50
4. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) 49
5. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) 48

Teams

1. Monster Energy Yamaha 114
2. Ducati 105
3. Suzuki Ecstar 72
4. Pramac Racing 65
5. Repsol Honda 40

What's next?

Quartararo will hope for more luck on home turf at the French Grand Prix at Le Mans on May 16.

 

 

Fabio Quartararo made MotoGP history at the Spanish Grand Prix after becoming the first rider to secure four consecutive pole positions at the Jerez circuit.

The 22-year-old Monster Energy Yamaha rider, who won on each of the last two occasions he clinched pole at Jerez, set an early benchmark with a time of one minute and 36.807 seconds.

He was nearly toppled from top spot by his former team-mate Franco Morbidelli, who at one point got to within 0.005 seconds of a provisional pole position. 

Frenchman Quartararo's first time ultimately would have been enough to secure pole, but he went even better with a later run.

He ended the session with a best time of one minute and 36.775 seconds to secure first spot on the front row, with a 0.057s advantage over Petronas Yamaha's Morbidelli.

"It felt really good today," Quartararo told his team's official website. "Jerez is one of the tracks that I really like. I have ridden a Yamaha four times at this track and four times I got pole position. It's quite an amazing moment, I'm really happy about this.

"But I will say that today's Q2 session was a qualifying where I was more on the limit. I thought I was going to crash in turn six and turn 13. I made a mistake in turn six, but ultimately what matters is that we got the pole position today.

"Tomorrow it's not going to be easy, but I feel prepared and that I have good potential. The medium and hard tyres are both working well, so we will use the warm-up tomorrow to decide which one we will use."

Ducati team-mates Jack Miller and Francesco Bagnaia will start in third and fourth respectively, ahead of LCR Honda rider Takaaki Nakagami in fifth.

Repsol Honda's former world champion Marc Marquez, meanwhile, put in a career-worst qualifying performance and will start Sunday’s race in 14th.


Provisional classification

1. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) 1:36.775
2. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha) + 0.057s
3. Jack Miller (Ducati) + 0.105s
4. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) + 0.205s
5. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda) + 0.253s
6. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) + 0.299s
7. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) + 0.315s
8. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) + 0.330s
9. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.369s
10. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.399s
11. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM) + 0.712s
12. Stefan Bradl (Honda HRC) + 0.747s

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 overcame a poor start to win a dramatic Portuguese Grand Prix that saw Marc Marquez finish seventh on his long-awaited return.

Marquez said he was ready to "suffer" in his first race since sustaining a season-ending broken arm last July, but the six-time MotoGP champion enjoyed an encouraging comeback after making an early move from sixth to third.

However, it was Quartararo who took the victory, despite dropping down the field from pole position in a pulsating start, after Johann Zarco and Alex Rins crashed out in quick succession at the Algarve International Circuit on Sunday.

Quartararo took over from Zarco as championship leader after sealing back-to-back wins following his triumph in Doha, with Francesco Bagnaia and Joan Mir taking second and third place respectively.

Maverick Vinales could only finish back in 11th place on a great day for Quartararo.

Zarco darted up the inside in a dream start from third on the grid to take the lead from Monster Energy Yamaha rider Quartararo, with Marquez also impressing during the opening laps in Portimao.

Quartararo dropped back to sixth and Marquez caught the back of Mir's Suzuki as he slipped back following a promising beginning to the race.

Rins, who started in second, moved passed Pramac Racing's Zarco in a flash at Turn 13 to hit the front before Jack Miller and Miguel Oliveira - winner on home soil last year - crashed out.

Quartararo had ominously put a disappointing start behind him to apply the pressure, becoming the latest leader of the race with 17 laps to go.

Rins tried his best to cut the gap in second place but spun off 11 laps from the end at Turn 10 after Valentino Rossi had crashed out from 11th place.

Quartararo was in complete control when Rins spun and a second-placed Zarco hit the deck, with Ducati rider Bagnaia holding off Mir for second, having been back in 11th, as the early championship lead changed hands.

Marc Marquez will start from sixth on his MotoGP return, but there was drama and controversy at the front of the grid in Portuguese Grand Prix qualifying on Saturday.

Six-time champion Marquez will race this week for the first time since the 2020 season opener.

The Repsol Honda superstar broke the humerus in his right arm in that event in Jerez and failed in his bid to make a swift comeback, instead watching the remainder of the campaign from the sidelines as Joan Mir claimed his crown.

Marquez has taken precautions at the start of the new MotoGP year, too, missing the first two races, but he is back in action at the Algarve International Circuit.

His previous appearance in Portugal, at Estoril in Moto2, ended in victory in 2012.

Still recovering his fitness, Marquez said: "Tomorrow I'll suffer. But then next week I can recover, then Jerez be a little bit stronger."

A solid Q2 time of one minute and 39.121 seconds was sixth-fastest to ensure a competitive Sunday start, although Marquez would have only made seventh had Francesco Bagnaia's sensational time not been struck off.

Bagnaia, who claimed a first career pole at the season opener, believed he was set to start from the front of the grid again after shattering the track record. The Italian already has three fastest laps over the past two seasons.

But the factory Ducati rider passed through a yellow flag zone following Miguel Oliveira's crash in completing a 1:38.494 lap.

Fabio Quartararo was the beneficiary when that effort was cancelled, promoted to pole as Bagnaia fumed.

"For sure [the flag position is a problem], because you are coming from the downhill and the yellow flag was on the right side," said Bagnaia, whose strong start to the season has included 26 points from two races. He had 47 from 11 in 2020.

"I was already leaning for the corner and preparing for the corner, so it was impossible to see my side.

"[Luca] Marini, who was behind me, said to me the same. He also didn't see the yellow flags, so it was impossible."

Quartararo will be looking to protect his new position, having only finished on the podium in four of his past 16 races but won on all four occasions.


Provisional classification

1. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Yamaha) 1:38.862
2. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) +0.089s
3. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) +0.129s
4. Jack Miller (Ducati) +0.199s
5. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha) +0.241s
6. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) +0.259s
7. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) +0.307s
8. Luca Marini (Esponsorama) +0.524s
9. Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) +0.536s
10. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM) +0.583s
11. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) +0.620s
12. Maverick Viñales (Monster Yamaha) +0.945s

Marc Marquez is set to end his MotoGP injury nightmare with a long-awaited return to action in next week's Portuguese Grand Prix.

The six-time champion could not mount a defence to his title in 2020 after breaking the humerus bone in his right arm following a fall during the first race, staged at Jerez.

Marquez underwent three operations, the last of which was carried out in December following the discovery of an infection in the fracture.

He has been able to build up his training regime and is now poised to compete again after getting the go-ahead from medical experts.

Marquez's Repsol Honda team said in a statement on Saturday: "In the review carried out on Marc Marquez by the Hospital Ruber Internacional medical team, four months after surgery, led by doctors Samuel Antuna and Ignacio Roger de Ona, and made up of doctors De Miguel, Ibarzabal and García Villanueva, for an infected pseudoarthrosis of the right humerus, a very satisfactory clinical condition was found, with evident progress in the bone consolidation process.

"In the current situation, Marquez can return to competition, assuming the reasonable risk implicit in his sporting activity."

Marquez wrote on Twitter: "I'M VERY HAPPY! Yesterday I visited the doctors and they gave me the green light to return to competition. They have been 9 difficult months, with moments of uncertainties and ups and downs, and now, I will be able to enjoy my passion again! See you next week in Portimao!!"

He must still pass a further medical test before racing in Portugal, but Marquez and his team appear confident he is healthy enough to compete.

There is ground to make up for Marquez in the championship after he missed the opening two rounds of the season, both staged in Qatar.

Pramac Racing's Johann Zarco has made the early running in the riders' standings, with a pair of second-place finishes putting the Frenchman on 40 points.

Fabio Quartararo says his Grand Prix of Doha victory provided a "boost of confidence for the future" and much more of a lift than his wins last season.

Quartararo topped the podium three times last year and gave Monster Yamaha a second successive win in Qatar on Sunday.

The 21-year-old came out on top under the lights at the Losail International Circuit ahead of compatriot Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing), giving France a first double premier class podium since way back in 1954.

Zarco's rookie team-mate Jorge Martin secured a maiden MotoGP podium finish in a thriller, which saw the closest top-15 finish in history.

Only 8.928 seconds separated Quartararo and Miguel Oliveira, who crossed the line in 15th place, comfortably smashing the record of 15.093 seconds set at the same venue.

Quartararo struggled with the pressure of mounting a championship challenge in 2020 and has worked closely with a psychologist in recent months.

He took great heart from rising to the occasion with his first victory of the season in the second round

"I feel like this win gives me much more confidence than the wins from last year as I came from far back," Quartararo said.

"In the test it was difficult and I say woah, because the Ducati are fast in the straight and in the pace and it would be difficult to beat them

"But actually you need to look at yourself and try to be the best you can, and this is what we did today and it gave me a boost of confidence for the future."

Quartararo is four points behind early championship leader Zarco in the standings.

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 knows Monster Energy Yahama must improve despite a winning start to the MotoGP season at the Qatar Grand Prix.

Vinales shot from fifth with 15 laps to go to first with seven rounds of the track remaining in Doha on Sunday, nipping ahead of Francesco Bagnaia, who started on pole.

It ultimately proved a relatively comfortable triumph for the Spaniard, with the drama coming further back – defending champion Joan Mir losing out on a podium place with a mistake at the final corner.

However, after suffering a slow start from which he subsequently struck back, Vinales conceded there is work to do for his team.

"We are not there yet. We need to improve," he said during a news conference.

"We need to work really hard because it's just the first race. We stick with our feet on the ground, and we'll work hard for the next one, to be faster, especially from the start, we have to be better."

Vinales praised the work the team has done in pre-season, though, as well as the impact made by new Yamaha test driver Cal Crutchlow.

"I didn't have that feeling during other weekends to have that corner speed, but with Yamaha we work very hard to have that front part of the bike to make it better," he said.

"Also, Cal works very hard with the bike. The way Cal rides the bike is very similar to me, and it helps me with many things, especially because he came from a big factory and he has given us advice which was good for the race."

Despite demolishing the Losail circuit lap record in qualifying, Ducati debutant Bagnaia looked set to miss out on a place in the top three when Johann Zarco – of his former team Pramac Racing – and Mir overtook him.

However, Mir's slip-up with just one turn left to go allowed Bagnaia to take third place and the Italian conceded he needs to find a balance between starting strong, without giving up a lead.

"Maybe for the next one, I have to change the strategy a bit, push less in the first part of the race and follow someone, but in any case we have more data now to look at," he said.

"We will improve for sure, to be better in the last part of the race."

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.

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