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Miller takes first pole in four years at San Marino MotoGP

Jack Miller claimed pole position at the San Marino MotoGP on Saturday to give the Australian his second premier class start at the head of the grid.

Ducati rider Miller, who last took pole in Argentina in 2018, posted a best time of one minute and 31.899 seconds on his eighth lap of an exciting, if damp qualifying charge at Misano.

It capped a perfect day for Miller who had also come out on top of the practice times earlier on Saturday and best handled the intermittent rain which led to riders quickly beating each other’s lap times as the track slowly dried up.

“We were able to get the job done, lap after lap after lap I was just feeling it out but that time in these kinds of conditions, I was pretty happy with that,” said Miller.

“I’m happy to have my second pole on MotoGP, it’s been a long time since the last one, it’s an awesome feeling especially to do it here at home for Ducati.”

The 27-year-old finished just 0.015sec ahead of his teammate Francesco Bagnaia who will however start Sunday’s race in fifth after being hit with a three-place grid penalty on Friday.

Enea Bastianini was bumped up to second on the grid, while Marco Bezzechi completes a front-row hat-trick for Ducati bikes.

Bagnaia was judged to have impeded Alex Marquez during Friday morning’s practice, dealing a blow to the Italian’s chances of closing the 44-point gap between him and championship leader Fabio Quartararo.

“It was very difficult understanding how much it was possible to push but I’m happy because we’ve done a really good job,” said Bagnaia.

“I will start from P5 and our objective was to start on the second row… we have done a good job, it was not easy but we reached our objective.” 

Quartararo lags behind

The 25-year-old will start further up the grid than reigning world champion Quartararo after the Frenchman finished 0.347sec behind Miller and took eighth place on the grid.

Quartararo is one place ahead of Aleix Espargaro who sits second in the overall standings, 32 points adrift.

Valentino Rossi’s half-brother Luca Marini placed a respectable seventh and will start in the third row after pipping Jorge Martin in the first qualifying session to claim a spot in the pole-deciding second session.

Martin had initially been set to take part in the second qualifying session until he was bumped back down to 15th after his best lap in Saturday’s early practice session was scrubbed out.

The Spaniard then looked to have re-earned himself a chance to battle for pole but a perfectly-timed 1:32.004 from Marini just before rain started gave the Italian second place in Q1 and consigned Martin to 13th on the grid.

In Moto3 Deniz Oncu claimed the pole with a time of 1:42.448sec as championship leader Sergio Garcia finished way back in 13th, 0.649sec off the pace.

Garcia stands atop the Moto3 standings with 193 points, 15 ahead of teammate and fellow Spaniard Izan Guevara who claimed fifth spot on the grid for Sunday.

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