Ahead of the first premier class race in Indonesia in 25 years qualifying was a wild ride that saw Marc Marquez twice crash out.
Indonesia’s MotoGP fans were given a treat in incident-packed qualifying on the steamy island of Lombok on Saturday.
Quartararo snatches pole for Indonesian Grand Prix
Quartararo topped qualifying with a time of 1 min 31.067 sec on his Yamaha, with Spain’s Jorge Martin second on the grid, 0.213 sec back.
In third, France’s Johann Zarco was also on the front row. Like Martin, he rides a Ducati.
“It was great to be back in (pole), it was a long time, super happy,” said Quartararo, whose last pole position was at the Catalunya Grand Prix in June last year.
“We did not make so many mistakes in qualifying and that is thanks to the team because we never gave up.”
Quartararo’s title defence started in meek fashion in Qatar when he came a disappointing ninth, however its a long old season.
Six-time world champion Marquez will start Sunday’s race on Lombok 15th after a calamitous qualifying run. It is unclear if the Spaniard will ever find world championship pace again after a string of injuries and bad crashes.
He was involved in another high-speed crash on Friday in practice and took another tumble off his Honda at Turn 13 in the first round of qualifying.
Marquez can’t stay on
Marquez immediately sprinted off to grab his other bike in a frantic effort to record a competitive lap and get into the second session of qualifying.
However, in pushing too hard, the 29-year-old went flying off once more just minutes later, this time at Turn 12, and was clearly annoyed with himself.
Marquez’s compatriot and 2020 world champion Joan Mir also crashed and is 18th on the grid.
Indonesia staged motorcycle grand prix in 1996 and 1997 near the capital Jakarta, but its ambitions of becoming a mainstay of the sport were torpedoed by the Asian financial crisis.
There have been teething problems for the country’s return to world-class motorcycling, with the Mandalika track requiring substantial resurfacing for this week’s action.
During testing in February, MotoGP riders complained that the circuit was dirty and breaking up in places.
The new MotoGP campaign boasts a record 21 races this season, ending on November 6 in Valencia.