Martin smashes lap record to grab Austrian MotoGP pole

Spielberg bei Knittelfeld (Austria) (AFP) –


Jorge Martin grabbed pole position for a second straight week at the Red Bull Ring as he smashed a nine-minute old lap record in the dying seconds of Saturday's Austrian Grand Prix qualifying.

On the fastest track in MotoGP, championship leader Fabio Quartararo seemed to have sealed pole position when he smashed the record set last week by fellow Frenchman Johann Zarco last weekend ahead of the Styria Grand Prix.

Quartararo's time of 1 min 22.677 sec was three-tenths of a second faster that anyone else nine minutes later when Martin set off on one last with qualifying time about to expire.

He took advantage of Ducati-Pramac team-mate Zarco's slipstream to grab pole.

"When I'm in the first sector up by three tenths, I was impressed, I was thinking 'Oh! I can make the pole'," said the Spanish rookie. "But I make a mistake in the last corner and I had some doubts."

"This pole position is unbelievable," said Martin who won on only his sixth MotoGP start last weekend.

"I'm living a dream. I love the bike. We're living a great moment."

Martin rode straight off to practice his starts, lining up alongside Quartararo. The two exchanged playful but vigorous slaps.

Quartararo, who finished third last Sunday to stretch his championship lead, had mixed emotions after locking up a front-row start on a track where Yamaha's slightly lower top speed leaves it at a disadvantage.

"The pole position would be even better," he said. "I did the best I could. I'm happy to be on the front row. Jorge is super fast. It's a shame. A little bit disappointed but a good place to start the race."

Martin crashed twice in free practice, once on Friday and again on Saturday morning and had to go through pre-qualifying to earn one of the last two places in the top-ten shootout for pole.

"I always work well under pressure and today was one of those days," he said. "After crashing in FP3 I wasn't confident."

He said he still had pain in his knee from the morning's crash.

Ducati's strength on the track brought it four of the first six positions on the grid.

Factory rider Francesco Bagnaia was third 0.43sec slower than Matin.

Zarco, the second Pramac rider, was fourth and Australian Jack Miller, on a factory bike was sixth.

Sandwiched between them on the second row will be Spaniard Marc Marquez on a Honda 4.

Yamaha, on the other hand, only have Quartararo on the grid after suspending Maverick Vinales for the way he treated his bike last Sunday.

Former seven-time champion Valentino Rossi will start from 18th.