Dovi beats Honda duo to Qatar pole

Andrea Dovizioso claimed a surprise pole position under the lights at the Losail circuit on Saturday night, beating the Honda factory riders.

The season-opening Q2 in Qatar got underway with Dani Pedrosa setting a 1:54.424 which – despite being the first time set in the session – was 0.4s quicker than anything seen so far this weekend.

Having laid down his marker, his team-mate Marc Marquez could only manage second on his first flying lap, 0.013s down.

That gap was extended to 0.107s as Pedrosa went even faster on his next lap and with Marquez unable to challenge, the reigning World Champ pitted for fresh rubber.

Heading back out along with his rivals for a second run on new tyres, Marquez was again unable to beat Pedrosa's time. The same, though, cannot be said for Dovizioso.

On board the new 2015 Ducati and using the softer rear tyre, he posted a 1:54.113 to beat Pedrosa to pole position by 0.217s while Marquez dropped to third, 0.324s down.

Dovizioso, though, admits Ducati are in the dark as to what the bike can deliver in Sunday's race.

"Obviously there is a question mark as we've never done a race with this new bike," said the Italian. "But the feeling of the bike is much much better than last year and our pace in FP4 was very fast, the same are Marquez.

"So it will be difficult to fight with him tomorrow but our speed is there."

The second row of the grid went to Andrea Iannone, Yonny Hernandez and Jorge Lorenzo. The former World Champ never appeared to have the pace to attack for a front row slot and finished half a second off the pace.

It was a great night at Qatar for Bradley Smith, who came through a fierce battle in Q1 to even make it into the second segment. He qualified ahead of Valentino Rossi and fellow Q1 rider Danilo Petrucci. Pol Esparago completed the top ten.

Meanwhile, Honda protege Jack Miller failed to shine in Q1 as he crashed out at Turn 10, the tight left-hand hairpin. He qualified P22.

It was also a trying night for Aprilia on their MotoGP return. Alvaro Bautista was 21st on board his RS-GP while team-mate Marco Melandri was 25th – slowest of all – and 2.840s off the pace.

1 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati Team 1'54.113    
2 Dani PEDROSA Repsol Honda Team 1'54.330 0.217
3 Marc MARQUEZ Repsol Honda Team 1'54.437 0.324
4 Andrea IANNONE Ducati Team 1'54.521 0.408
5 Yonny HERNANDEZ Pramac Racing Ducati 1'54.675 0.562
6 Jorge LORENZO Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 1'54.711 0.598
7 Bradley SMITH Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1'54.732 0.619
8 Valentino ROSSI Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 1'54.851 0.738
9 Danilo PETRUCCI Pramac Racing Ducati 1'54.876  0.763
10 Pol ESPARGARO Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1'55.004 0.891
11 Aleix ESPARGARO Team SUZUKI ECSTAR 1'55.035 0.922
12 Cal CRUTCHLOW CWM LCR Honda 1'55.123 1.010
13 Maverick VIÑALES Team SUZUKI ECSTAR 1'55.246
14 Scott REDDING EG 0,0 Marc VDS 1'55.428
15 Hector BARBERA Avintia Racing 1'55.604
16 Mike DI MEGLIO Avintia Racing 1'55.729
17 Nicky HAYDEN Aspar MotoGP Team 1'55.756
18 Stefan BRADL Athinà Forward Racing 1'55.791
19 Eugene LAVERTY Aspar MotoGP Team 1'55.848
20 Karel ABRAHAM AB Motoracing 1'55.892
21 Alvaro BAUTISTA Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 1'56.187
22 Jack MILLER CWM LCR Honda 1'56.287
23 Loris BAZ Athinà Forward Racing 1'56.454
24 Alex DE ANGELIS Octo IodaRacing Team 1'56.793
25 Marco MELANDRI Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 1'57.934