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But the timing screen was lit up by Martin at the start of his final lap, while Zarco surprised with a 1m53.263s to steal provisional pole from Vinales having only been on personal best sectors up until the final split.
Martin, however, kept his lap alive and produced a 1m53.106s to claim a sensational pole in just his second MotoGP outing.
Vinales completed the front row, while Jack Miller could only manage fourth on the factory team Ducati ahead of Quartararo and Qatar GP poleman Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati).
Aleix Espargaro will line up seventh on the Aprilia, with Suzuki duo Alex Rins and world champion Joan Mir – having come through Q1 – completing row three.
The fourth row will be occupied by Morbidelli, Honda’s Stefan Bradl and Q1 graduate Miguel Oliveira on the factory KTM
On his standout ability on a flying lap, Martin explained, “I thought it was much more difficult to ride a MotoGP bike. For sure at the beginning you feel everything is new and it’s difficult, but you can push actually to another level just because the tires, the power, the brakes, the gearbox, everything is better. I wasn’t doing many crazy things and the bike was really stable. The bike is great and it’s amazing to be here.”
His ability was talked up by countryman and occasional training partner Aleix Espargaro. “I knew perfectly how fast he is, and not just one single lap.
He’s a big talent. He can do big things when he understands more the bike. In just his second race he did a fast lap alone. Did a very good job. Ducati have a big treasure with Jorge.”
But Martin sounded cautiously toward Sunday’s race. “Tomorrow I think it’s time to be a rookie. I’m a rookie. I don’t have the pressure, not even the potential yet to win. But a top six would be great.”