Spanish rookie Jorge Martin snatched pole from Ducati’s Francesco Bagnaia while seven-time MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi finished tenth in qualifying in his final race at the season-end Valencia Grand Prix on Saturday.
Ducati’s Australian Jack Miller will start third on the grid ahead of outgoing Spanish world champion Joan Mir in fourth. Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo, who sealed his first title last month, only managed eighth place.
The Italian Bagnaia looked headed for a sixth consecutive pole when he crashed at turn two and his lap time was improved almost immediately by Pramac Racing’s Martin. Miller, the only rider with a medium front tire, also crashed at the end of qualifying.
Rossi, who had managed to make a direct surprise entry into Q2, suffered a severe blow when he climbed over the first corner while he was behind Bagnaia. The 42-year-old Italian briefly moved up to seventh place, but dropped to tenth in the later stages.
Previously, Repsol Honda’s Pol Espargaro had skipped qualifying after being taken to hospital following an accident during Saturday morning’s third free practice session.
Team manager Alberto Puig said the Spaniard was not seriously injured but will continue to be evaluated.
Also absent from Valencia is Espargaro’s teammate and six-time MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez, who retired after an off-road training accident last week.