Qatar MotoGP Sprint Race & Qualifying Quote Machine
MotoGP Press

Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) started 2024 with a statement ride – arguably a signature one – as the number 89 shot out the blocks to take the first Tissot Sprint win of the year. Harried all the way home by Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), Martin held firm under pressure for Sprint win 10 of his career.

Binder had his own pressure right to the flag too, with Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) battling past both Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) and Marc Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) on his way to taking third, right on the KTM’s tail and making it three factories on the first rostrum of the season.

Binder had a storming start up from fourth to tag onto the back of Martin immediately, with the number 89 taking the holeshot and getting the hammer down but still not able to shake the South African. Espargaro lost out initially from his P2 on the grid but then started to pull it back, taking fourth from Enea Bastianini (Ducati Lenovo Team) and then third place back from Bagnaia.

Meanwhile, Marc Marquez and Gresini teammate Alex Marquez were in the thick of the battle with Fabio Di Giannantonio (Pertamina Enduro VR46 Racing Team). Eventually, Marc Marquez was able to make it stick and headed off in pursuit of Bastianini on the rear of the front group, and not too long after that Diggia was sadly out of the battle after a strange and initially dramatic crash, but rider ok.

At the front, Martin rolled on. But he wasn’t getting away. Binder was still very much in touch, and Bagnaia was on the move too as he dispatched Espargaro to move into third. The next move then came in from Marc Marquez, with Bastianini slightly wide and the number 93 needing no second invitation.

By five laps to go, the eight-time World Champion was attacking Espargaro and past him at the end of the straight, as Martin seemed to have the hammer down at the front. But there was still no breakaway from the number 89. The chasers responded, with Binder holding firm ahead of Bagnaia, Marc Marquez and Espargaro. Bastianini, however, started to fade slightly from that group.

A moment for Marc Marquez, capitalised on by Espargaro as the Aprilia struck again, narrowed that gap to Bastianini, however. And that was key for the final lap battle, with Espargaro able to keep it, keep the hammer down, and then home in on the leading trio. It was a four-rider battle for the podium with two to go.

The penultimate lap saw the Aprilia take on Bagnaia, but the reigning Champion cut back as Espargaro sailed wide. But onto the main straight the #41 then made it stick and got the hammer down enough to hold onto third into Turn 1, now with the next target locked on: Binder.

The KTM was chasing Martin, but a new problem was carving up the gap to tuck right onto his tail. Espargaro ate through the metres enough to almost give himself striking distance by the final corner, but it was just that bit too far for a move. Martin crossed the line for a statement tenth Sprint win to start the season ahead, with Binder taking that second and Espargaro forced for settle for that third.

Reigning Champion Bagnaia likewise had to settle, in his case for fourth, with Marc Marquez next up. Bastianini crossed the line sixth, ahead of Alex Marquez in a lonelier seventh. The number 73 had had some close company from rookie sensation Pedro Acosta (Red Bull GASGAS Tech3) in the latter stages, but was able to pull the gap back out.

Acosta, however, took an impressive P8 in his first MotoGP™ appearance – and he was the second RC16 on track. What can the number 31 do with a few more laps to get in the groove?

Ninth place went to Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing), with Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) completing the top ten in a close group ahead of Marco Bezzecchi (Pertamina Enduro VR46 Racing Team) and a near photo-finish with Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™).


#QatarGP Sprint Race. It has been once of the most intense Saturdays of racing ever (and it’s the first one of the season!) with Practice, qualifying and Sprint race all squeezed together in a few hours. It was not easy to race in these conditions, but Team Gresini MotoGP answered the call in a big way in the morning session, with Alex Marquez topping the timesheets, as well as in qualifying, with Marc Marquez securing a top-five finish (second row) while his younger brother was seventh.

There is still plenty of action left (and work to do) with the opening full race of the season that will get underway at 8pm local time (GMT +3). Marc and Alex will start in sixth and ninth position, respectively, ready to spearhead their attack to the top positions.

5th - MARC MARQUEZ #93
“I had fun, no doubt. I managed to put together some overtaking manoeuvres, also on the straight, I was in the top positions and that’s when you start having fun and the weekends get shorter. I made a mistake when I knew I could, on lap one and then I lost some ground battling with Fabio (Diggia). We are where we want to be, in the top five, and that is the goal for tomorrow as today I was expecting Bastianini a bit further up and Binder not as competitive as he turned out to be.”

7th - ALEX MARQUEZ #73
“Too bad for the Q2, as we weren’t able to put together the perfect lap and we were coming from an excellent practice. Then in the sprint race we lost time at the beginning, especially because of Di Giannantonio: first the battle with Marc and then his crash ended up costing me too much ground. We will need a good start tomorrow and try to manage the tyres as best as we can.”


First Sprint for Johann Zarco with the LCR

CASTROL Honda LCR rider Johann Zarco has finished 16th on Saturday's Sprint at the Lusail International Circuit.

Starting from the 13th position of the grid, Frenchman Zarco faced the 11 laps Sprint, and despite losing some positions on the first lap, he immediately recovered his spot and fought for the Top 10. However, a lack of feeling with the bike at the last stages prevented him from nailing the job, and finally crossed the line 16th. The team will now analyze the data to make a step forward ahead of Sunday's race.

Johann Zarco 16th

"Despite the last two laps, in which I've lost some positions, the Sprint has been quite optimistic for us. I've managed to fight, be in the game with my rivals, and gather much information. At the end of the Sprint, I felt some chattering, which didn't allow me to get to the points. Considering this has just been the first Sprint, we are working on the right way, and we are making progress session after session”.


Francesco Bagnaia has finished fourth in the opening Sprint of the season, which took place at the Lusail International Circuit over an 11-lap distance. Enea Bastianini was fourth at the chequered flag.

The two factory Ducati rider had wrapped up qualifying in the top five, with Enea Bastianini able to put together an excellent last lap that granted him the third place on the grid, with Pecco fifth at the end of Q2. Both riders were seeded directly to the final qualifying session thanks to the positive work done in the atypical Practice session held today.

Both Pecco and Enea managed to keep their starting position as the race began, with the two-time reigning champion that made his way – in the first half of the encounter – up to third place, which he kept until the last lap.
Bagnaia then crossed the line in fourth place ahead of team Gresini Racing MotoGP’s Marc Màrquez, also on Ducati machinery. Third in the early stages of the race, Bastianini then lost touch with the group battling for the podium and was eventually sixth at the line.

The Sunday full race for the Qatar GP will get underway at 20:00 local time (GMT +3), with the warmup scheduled earlier on at 15:40.

Francesco Bagnaia (#1 Ducati Lenovo Team) – 4th
“Overall, it was a positive Sprint, as a fourth place represents a good number of points secured. Surely the feeling is different compared to testing, maybe because of track conditions. It’s true that if I started from the front row, or even from pole, things would have been very different, but unfortunately, I got the last two corners wrong during my quick-lap attempt. We need to work on the bike behaviour at the rear end; I struggled at the end, I could make the most of cornering and had to change my style a bit. We now have a clearer picture on where to improve ahead of tomorrow.”

Enea Bastianini (#23 Ducati Lenovo Team) – 6th
“It was a bit of an unusual race. I was expecting to do a little bit better, but I’m still quite happy. After four laps, I started experiencing a little bit of vibration and grip issues, especially in the faster parts of the track, which we’ll have to analyse and solve ahead of tomorrow when we’ll also need to manage the tyre wear as best as possible. The guys are working towards it and we’ll try to do better tomorrow.”


First podium for Espargaró and Aprilia in Qatar

"A strange day speaking honestly because I was not expecting to be so far, nor were the team. All weekend, and in the test, I was more or less with the Honda riders but today we were very far. First, we need to understand why because the feeling was not what it has been. I was really strong in braking but we need to improve a lot in other areas. It’s the first race we have done so there is certainly more to come and I am confident we will get there.”

--Luca Marini
It was a great day for Aleix Espargaró who took the second spot on the starting grid in qualifying – Aprilia’s first time on the front row at the Lusail track. In the opening laps of the Sprint Race, the Spanish rider lost four positions before being forced to fend off his rivals’ attacks. Four laps from the end, Aleix embarked on a fantastic comeback ride overtaking several riders to include a decisive pass over Pecco Bagnaia that took him into third place. For Aleix and Aprilia, this is the first podium ever at the Lusail Circuit.

Viñales, who managed to go through to Q2, started from the tenth spot on the grid. After a good start from the fourth row, Maverick struggled in the melee of the opening laps and, unable to make a comeback, finished the Sprint Race ninth.

"I am extremely satisfied. In the final laps, I was really fast and I had a lot of fun riding the bike. I lost too much time coming back from behind, but if there had been one more lap, I undoubtedly would have been able to get close to Binder and Martín. The bike is an absolute missile and we were fast in both qualifying and in the Sprint Race."

"I’m a bit concerned because the feeling is much different than in the tests. I already wasn’t feeling comfortable yesterday and the situation did not improve much in the Sprint Race. We’ll analyse the data well now with my technicians to identify the problem. In the long race, managing the tyres could hold some surprises. I don’t think everyone is sorted in that respect."

Track House Aprilia


“It was kind of a disappointing day, but with a competitive pace and with competitive lap times. I was very close to go through to Q2, especially very close in the Practice today. I got a bit disturbed on my fastest lap and then it was just not good enough to go through and I qualified 14th. The race was a bit like a yo-yo; I was faster than the guys in front but couldn’t find a way to get past them and then the race was finished and I ran out of time. Hopefully, tomorrow, I can make a slightly better start, gain a few places and try to reach a position inside the top 10.”


“I’m happy because I feel like I recovered the speed, especially this morning in the time attack. But, at the same time, we have to work more with the electronics. Now we have the material and the possibility to do something good. Aprilia gave us some really great tools - our bike is working well. We saw with the race of Aleix (Espargaro) that we can do very well, but we have to understand the electronic a little bit better. I think we have more potential and we need to understand what we need to do to improve. The speed is there, I recovered it, I recovered the feeling, when I want to be quick, I can, but in the race it’s quite difficult and different with the slipstream. We need to learn. But in general, I’m glad we have the speed, but I’m not happy with my Sprint race.”


“We qualified ourselves close to the top 10, so we hoped for a couple of points but, unfortunately, we didn’t make it. Saying that, never have we been slow. The start was not fantastic though; Raul had a big wheelie and he dropped from 12th to 19th. Miguel was able to keep his position someway somehow, but got passed by two guys, nearly hitting somebody in turn six. Overall, it was not a dream start to the season, but also no drama, I would say. We finished 13th and 14th, tomorrow is the main race and I hope and I’m quite sure we are able to do better than that. Of course, there are no slow riders in this championship at the moment. So far, I think we only have to look at ourselves and be able to be better than we were today.”


Binder opens 2024 MotoGP™ account with strong Sprint podium in Qatar
MotoGP 2024 - Round 01 of 21, Lusail International Circuit, Qatar – Qualification and Sprint

MotoGP made a speedy return to action for the first of twenty-one rounds in 2024 at the Lusail International Circuit and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing attacked the Grand Prix of Qatar with considerable relish. Brad Binder qualified his KTM RC16 4th on the grid and flew to 2nd place in a close opening Sprint of the year. Jack Miller set off from the fourth row and battled to 10th.

Binder, quick and full of roaming intent, misses Pole Position by just 0.1 of a second but shows his competitiveness by tussling among the leaders and finishing runner-up in Qatar
Miller qualifies 11th after coming through Q1 (ensuring both KTM riders batter the chrono times in Q2) and then rides the 2024 KTM RC16 spec to a top ten result in the 11-lap Sprint
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing endure a frenetic first meeting of the year after unexpected showers on Friday squashes the final practice, qualification and Sprint sessions into a sustained period on Saturday
Jose Antonio Rueda stretches his hot form on the 2024 Red Bull KTM Ajo RC4 to snatch 3rd and a front row position from Q2 for the 18-lap Moto3™ Grand Prix while Celestino Vietti makes his debut for the team in Moto2™

Only two weeks after the second and final pre-season test at the Lusail International Circuit, MotoGP travelled back to Qatar, but this time with more intensity and purpose as the first of 21 Grands Prix in 2024 wound-up to speed.

Brad Binder and Jack Miller began a campaign in which KTM were hoping to add to their win tally of seven trophies and better their standing of 2nd among the six brands on the grid. Positive signs emerged in the opening Free Practice with slithers of a second dividing the top fifteen. Rain lashed down to coat Lusail on Friday evening, rendering Practice redundant so Saturday’s first track session thus became key for the order for direct Q2 entry. Brad made the cut while Jack had to find a lap through Q1 to make sure he joined the South African.

Q2 took place on a breezy but sunny and warm afternoon in Qatar and Binder’s finest flyer was just 0.124 from Pole, allowing him to be 4th: the first slot of the second row of the grid. Miller used his last tire shot to manage 11th. Darkness had fallen by the time of the 11-lap Sprint. Binder made a scorching start – and Miller also to slide into the top six – and then was typically bold in the first corners to shadow Jorge Martin. Binder plagued the leader all the way to the flag with half a second the difference at the finish line. The result represented Brad’s second Sprint podium in a row after taking the same ranking at Valencia in the 2023 finale. Jack made himself busy in the top ten and rode to 10th by the end of the distance.

Lusail, winner of the award for the best 2023 Grand Prix, will stage the first of the three races at 17.00 local time (15.00 CET) with Moto3 followed by Moto2 at 18.15 and then MotoGP at 20.00.

Brad Binder, 4th in qualification, 2nd in the Sprint: “Today was great. It is always awesome to finish on the podium, especially the first race back. I tried so hard today. The pace was really strong in the first laps and I’m super-impressed with the gains we have made on entry and braking with the RC16. The bike is on another level…but we still have some work to do. The lap-times were unreal out there. It’s awesome to see and I think we’ll be in for a cool race tomorrow.”

Jack Miller, 11th in qualification, 10th in the Sprint: “Not a bad first day, not a great one. We gained some info. The start was good and the bike also but I knew it would be a bit tricky at the end with the soft front tire but I’m happy enough with the job. We have an issue to sort and understand why we were passed a few times. The track conditions were changing a lot today but with the medium tire things should be good for tomorrow.”

Francesco Guidotti, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team Manager: “A stressful but satisfying day. We’re really happy with Brad’s Sprint result and speed considering we only really had FP1 yesterday to get ready for the race for both riders. Both made Q2, Jack needed a few more laps to do it! Overall, Saturday went well and finished even better so a decent first day at school and let’s see what happens tomorrow.”

Results Qualifying MotoGP Grand Prix of Qatar

1. Jorge Martin (ESP) Ducati 1:50.789
2. Aleix Espargaro (ESP) Aprilia +0.083
3. Enea Bastianini (ITA) Ducati +0.086
4. Brad Binder (RSA) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +0.124
11. Jack Miller (AUS) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +0.551


The first Super Saturday of the 2024 season was an extra busy one, with Practice, Qualifying, and the Sprint all taking place on one day. Fabio Quartararo and Álex Rins lined up for the Grand Prix of Qatar Sprint in P16 and P20 on the grid. Over the course of the 11-lap dash, the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP teammates both got in some overtakes and made up some ground. They crossed the finish line in P12 and P17 respectively.

Starting from P16, Quartararo was keen to advance through the opening corners. He emerged in 13th place as the order settled. But an early battle with Johann Zarco lost the Yamaha man a position. He followed his compatriot past Marco Bezzecchi, and as Fabio Di Giannantonio crashed on lap 3, El Diablo was up to 12th. Quartararo had to multitask, battling Bezzecchi while preparing his move on Zarco. The number-20 rider made it stick with two laps to go and got up to 11th place. But Bezzecchi followed the Frenchman like a shadow. Quartararo did a stellar job to keep him at bay until the final sector. Pushing all the way to the finish line, Quartararo finished the Sprint in 12th position, 0.028s behind Bezzecchi and 12.863s from first.

A strong start from Rins moved him up from P20 to P17 in the first sector. He briefly fell back to 18th as the number-42 rider was engaged in battle with Raul Fernandez. After gaining a place due to Di Giannantonio's crash, the Yamaha rider overtook Joan Mir in his pursuit of Raul Fernandez. However, Mir came back to put up a fight later. Rins was unable to make further moves throughout the remainder of the Sprint but did collect useful data in a first 'race-like' outing with the Yamaha M1, which should be beneficial for tomorrow's full-length Race. He ended the Sprint in 17th place, 15.629s from the winner.

Tomorrow the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP teammates will be back in action for Warm Up from 15:40 – 15:50 GMT +3, followed by the Race, starting at 20:00.

Team Director

After a difficult Friday, we already knew this Saturday would be a tough one. We didn't get the qualifying positions we had hoped for, but Fabio and Álex still set out in the Sprint with the feeling that they would be able to make up some ground – and they did until the tyres dropped. The tyre degradation is much more severe this time – and also during the test – than it was when we were racing at the Lusail track last November. It will be crucial to understand why this is before tomorrow, as the riders will have to complete 22 laps in the Race. That is what we will be working on tonight, and we will test our solution during the warm-up.

Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Rider

It was tough. The drop of the tyre was quite big, bigger than we expected. Because of this, the final 3–4 laps were more about tyre conservation. Tomorrow, we'll have double the number of laps, so we are going to be working on that and try to understand why the tyre drop is so much bigger than last year. We have a lot of time tonight to find a solution.

Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Rider

It was a bit hard. We did expect a hard Sprint, but it was a little bit harder than I expected because I couldn't ride my own pace. We started quite well, then we overtook some riders. But when I was riding alone, Raul Fernandez and Miguel Oliveira got away a little bit. I tried to ride at my own pace, and I made a small mistake on the last lap, and Mir overtook me. I was trying to manage the rear tyre as much as possible, but I was struggling a lot on the last 5 laps. So, for sure we will need to take more care with the rear tyre tomorrow. But I did some laps behind competitors and gathered information. So, let's try to improve our bike a little bit for tomorrow, especially in the fast corners! Let's see if we can do this and save the tyres a bit more.

KTM Gas Gas

Acosta full of promise with top eight MotoGP™ Sprint debut in Qatar
MotoGP 2024 - Round 01 of 21, Lusail International Circuit – Quali and Sprint

It was hard not to contain the excitement: 2024 MotoGP, Lusail lights, the second year of GASGAS in the premier class of Grand Prix racing and the debut of a rookie starlet. Red Bull GASGAS Tech3 matched speed with expectation on the first day of quali and the opening Sprint of the season thanks to Pedro Acosta who shone at the Lusail International Circuit with 8th place after qualifying through Q2 with the same position. Augusto Fernandez crossed the line in 18th after lining up in the same slot on the grid.

Two decades after the venue first hosted MotoGP, the Lusail International Circuit again flickered on the lights for the world championship and round 1 of 21 this year. Saturday brought record-breaking quali laps and the first Sprint of ‘24
Pedro Acosta fuels the hype with a rookie ride to 8th after meddling with the leaders and the pacesetters through a crowded Saturday schedule due to Friday evening rain. The Spaniard qualified in 8th.
Red Bull GASGAS Tech3 keep the speed up through Moto3™ quali sessions as Daniel Holgado gains Pole Position for the third time in his career and the second time at Lusail

Qatar reverted to its traditional status as the opening site of MotoGP and welcomed the world championship for the 22nd Grand Prix at the Lusail International Circuit: the only floodlit stop on the schedule. For the paddock, teams and the Red Bull GASGAS Tech3 outfit, the trip to Qatar represented the third arrival at Lusail in five months after negotiating the penultimate race of 2023, the pre-season test and then ‘go time’ for 2024.

An unexpected flurry of rainfall on Friday condensed the Saturday sessions and gave the riders just 45 minutes to mark a lap to determine the order for Q1 and Q2. Pedro Acosta continued his impressive adaptation to the class by consistently lapping among the top ten times both on Friday and Saturday and made the Q2 cut at his very first attempt, just 0.2 of a second from P1. The 19-year-old placed 8th in the quali dash and occupied the third row for the Sprint. In the 11-lap rush that began at 19:00 local time, Pedro felt the heat of the MotoGP pack and came home with a convincing top eight and less than five seconds from the winner.

Augusto was especially quick in the damp conditions on Friday and strived for a flying lap in Practice and then Q1. He was just over a second away from the eventual lap-record breaking Pole time. When it came to the Sprint the Spaniard was forceful from the first lap until the last and scored 18th.

22-laps starts at 20:00 at Lusail International Circuit on Sunday evening (18:00 CET).

Pedro Acosta, 8th in qualifying, 8th in the Sprint: “Happy! Today was super-stressful with the practice, the Q2 and then the Sprint. There was a lot to do and a lot to handle, mentally. We didn’t make many mistakes in the race, and I only lost my time at the beginning. The gap to the leader was constant, so we need to be happy and go again tomorrow.”

Augusto Fernandez, 18th in qualifying, 18th in the Sprint: “Difficult day. We are making small steps but still need to progress a lot. We know the pace will be tricky tomorrow but it’s important to finish races and we know there is a possibility for points. We need to aim for this and then build from there.”

Nicolas Goyon, GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3 Team Manager: “We knew today would not be easy with the change in the schedule. We spent most of the time with a soft tire and chasing the lap-time but it was still a day to remember for us because Pedro shone under the lights here. For the first time since 2019 a rookie went straight to Q2 in his first race and it’s a great achievement. He also rode his first Sprint and got his first points. We know how difficult that is to do. A great day for him but we know he wants more and so do we and we’ll keep that in mind. Augusto is still building his confidence around the bike and we need to understand what is going on to help him as much as we can to give him the bike he deserves.”


Mir takes top Honda honours in opening Sprint of 2024

An eventful afternoon and evening for the Repsol Honda Team in Qatar as Joan Mir and Luca Marini got their first taste of racing for the year. Mir emerged as the quickest Honda as Marini endured a strange race, not reflective of his pace.

Adapting to the revised schedule due to Friday’s rain, Joan Mir was immediately on the attack as he hunted the best grid position possible with Practice starting the day. Missing out on the top two in Q1 by just half a second after a crash at the last corner, Mir secured 17th for both races at the Qatar GP.

His efforts continued into the Sprint race where he posted consistent lap times to bring himself steadily towards the front over the course of the 11 laps. An issue at the start of the race limited his pace in the early laps, but it soon resolved itself and Mir found himself closing in on the second group and gaining rapid ground on Zarco. With just a handful of corners to go, Mir attacked and picked off Zarco – claiming 15th and top Honda honours at the flag. The #36 felt there was more to offer and is aiming to deliver on that potential on Sunday.

Work continued on diligently for Luca Marini throughout the course of a complicated day. A crash, his first as a Repsol Honda Team rider, during the early stages of Practice saw him return to the garage, change leathers and head back out. A best lap of 1’52.952 in Q1 would see the #10 start from 21st on the grid.

A quiet race unfolded for Marini as he worked on understanding the Repsol Honda Team RC213V. Immediately starting his debrief with the team upon his return to the garage, plans are already underway to improve his feeling and the bike’s setup for Sunday’s feature race. The Italian and his Repsol Honda Team engineers are certain there is much more to come and the first result of the year is an outlier.

Now all attentions turn to the main event, the 22-lap Qatar Grand Prix on Sunday, March 10, where both Repsol Honda Team riders have clear targets.

Joan Mir

“In the last part of the race we were able to run in the 53 lows and I was catching the second group, which was quite good. I was able to overtake, and I finished the race with a good feeling. Our position isn’t the best, but there are positives about the feeling. There was something in the first five laps that then disappeared that we need to check because after that I could do my pace. I think tomorrow will give us a chance to show what we can really do, fighting close to the top ten and being there.”

Luca Marini

"A strange day speaking honestly because I was not expecting to be so far, nor were the team. All weekend, and in the test, I was more or less with the Honda riders but today we were very far. First, we need to understand why because the feeling was not what it has been. I was really strong in braking but we need to improve a lot in other areas. It’s the first race we have done so there is certainly more to come and I am confident we will get there.”
— ends —
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