Bagnaia's three-in-a-row ends Marquez seven-pole streak at Austin
Austin (AFP) –
Italy's Francesco Bagnaia, riding a Ducati, claimed his third successive MotoGP pole position of the season at the Grand Prix of the Americas on Saturday.
Bagnaia also ended six-time world champion Marc Marquez's run of seven successive poles at the Texan circuit.
World championship leader Fabio Quartararo, on a Yamaha, and Honda's Marquez complete the front row for Sunday's race, the 15th of the season.
Quartararo, 22, bidding to become France's first MotoGP world champion, has won five races this year and has a 48-point lead over Bagnaia.
However, the in-form Italian has captured the last two races.
Saturday's qualifying at the Circuit of the Americas had been overshadowed by anger over the state of the track which will also host a Formula One race in three weeks' time.
In Friday practice, Quartararo was particularly unhappy with bumps that have appeared on the track, particularly on Turns 2, 3 and 10.
"It looks like a motocross training ground," Quartararo said. "It's barely acceptable to race on... and dangerous."
Marquez won the first six races staged at the Austin circuit but fell off while leading in 2019.
The event was cancelled last season when he was recuperating after breaking his right arm in a crash.
He returned this season and, while he is clearly not 100 percent, he has been much stronger at the few counter-clockwise circuits, like Austin, which put less pressure on his right arm.
Sunday's front row start will be his first since his return to the sport.
As well as Quartararo and Bagnaia, three other men still have slim, mathematical chances of lifting the title.
France's Johann Zarco was sixth fastest on Saturday on a Ducati-Pramac with defending champion Joan Mir, on a Suzuki, in eighth and Ducati factory rider Jack Miller of Australia only qualifying 10th.
Aprilia rider Maverick Vinales, whose 15-year-old cousin Dean Berta Vinales was killed in a race in Jerez last weekend, opted not to race in Texas.
© 2021 AFP