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Martin sets lap record to grab pole position in Australia

Pramac Racing’s Jorge Martin set a lap record on Saturday to capture pole position for the Australian MotoGP Grand Prix as Francesco Bagnaia remained in the hunt to leapfrog world championship leader Fabio Quartararo at Phillip Island.

Spaniard Martin topped the time sheets with a scorching lap of 1:27.767 seconds in windy conditions ahead of the 18th round of the world championship, which is returning Down Under to the seaside circuit for the first time since 2019.

Martin eclipsed the previous lap record of Jorge Lorenzo which had stood for nine years.

“For sure he (Lorenzo) won’t be super happy today but it’s time to beat those records, because the bikes are much faster now,” said Martin, who took pole for the third time this year.

“Yesterday I was a bit lost because this track is so fast … today I had a good pace and I feel strong for the race also. I feel we can fight till the end tomorrow.”

Repsol Honda’s six-time MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez (+0.013) avoided a crash during the qualifying phase and will start second on the grid on Sunday while Ducati’s Bagnaia (+0.186) joined him on the front row following a solid display in qualifying.

Quartararo will line up in fifth place.

The Frenchman finished 17th in the Thai Grand Prix earlier this month, allowing the in-form Bagnaia to cut his lead to two points after a third-placed finish with three races left in the 2022 season.

“My challenge is with Fabio so I’m happy that I’m in front,” said Bagnaia.

“In free practice four we took an enormous step in front and in qualifying I pushed from the start. I wasn’t aware that a lot of riders were behind me but it doesn’t matter.”

Aleix Espargaro, Enea Bastianini and Australia’s Jack Miller are also in contention for the riders’ championship. Ducati have claimed the constructors’ crown and could wrap up the teams’ title for a second consecutive year.

SA’s Brad Binder qualified 16th. His brother Darryn Binder qualified 18th.

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