Brad Binder of South Africa and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing during the press conference ahead of the MotoGP Grand Prix of Indonesia at Mandalika International Street Circuit on March 17, 2022 in Lombok, Indonesia.
Photo by Steve Wobser/Getty Images
March 19 – Reigning world champion Fabio Quartararo dominated a chaotic Indonesia Grand Prix qualifying session to take pole position in Mandalika on Saturday as MotoGP returned to the country for the first time in a quarter of a century.
Quartararo’s title defense got off to a miserable start at the season-opener in Qatar, where he qualified 11th and finished the race in ninth, but the 22-year-old put his Yamaha on top with a time of 1 minute and 31,067 seconds.
Late yellow flags after a crash for Aleix Espargaro – the last of many on Saturday – helped Quartararo claim his first pole since the 2021 Catalan GP.
“It’s great to be back here, it’s been a long time. I’m super happy,” Quartararo said.
“I think today we didn’t make too many mistakes in qualifying and I think that paid off. Thanks to the team because we never gave up even with bad results and we are here again. I feel great for tomorrow.”
Pramac Ducati riders Jorge Martin and Johann Zarco grabbed the remaining front row places, while Brad Binder of Red Bull KTM will line up in fourth ahead of Qatar winner Enea Bastianini and Ducati’s Francesco Bagnaia.
Binder is showing incredible form for his second year in the premium class. During the season-opening Qatar MotoGP, the South African rider started seventh on the grid after qualifying and finished second on podium.
No doubt South Africans will be on the edge of their seats on Sunday morning, cheering on their local hero along with his younger brother Darryn Binder starting 23rd on the grid.
Alex Rins claimed eighth place after a fiery accident in FP4, which was red-flagged after his Suzuki caught fire at turn 13 although the rider escaped unharmed.
Six-times MotoGP champion Marc Marquez wants to start Sunday’s race in 15th place after crashing twice in Q1. He fell at turn 13 and sprinted off to grab his spare bike in a frantic effort to qualify for the second session but went flying on his last lap.
Marquez’s Honda teammate Pol Espargaro and Suzuki’s Joan Mir, the 2020 MotoGP champion, also failed to get out of the session.
Indonesia last hosted a grand prix in 1996 and 1997 near the capital Jakarta. The Mandalika track was resurfaced for this week’s action following complaints during testing last month about dirt, rocks and cracks putting riders in danger.