Martin, Bastianini, Marquez agree they aren’t favourites for Qatar MotoGP…

Suzuki Ecstar riders Joan Mir and Alex Rins are favourites for the Qatar MotoGP despite disappointing qualifying performance, according to grid top three

Jorge Martin

The top three riders on the grid for the Qatar MotoGP - Jorge Martin, Enea Bastianini and Marc Marquez - all believe the challenge from Sunday’s all-important race will emerge from Suzuki based despite Joan Mir and Alex Rins underperforming in qualifying.

Today sees the opening round of the 2022 MotoGP World Championship season kick off with an intriguing race in prospect at the Lusail International Circuit after a tightly-contested qualifying session saw the top ten covered by less than half a second.

Leading the charge was Martin, who emulated his pole position in Qatar from 12 months ago with a well-timed slipstream assisted run to the top spot, with Bastianini toasting Gresini Racing’s return to the series as an independent entry in a fine second position.

However, when asked in the press conference whether they considered themselves the riders to beat coming into the race, both agreed that - based on long run performance in practice - it is Suzuki that comes into the race as favourites.

Though Suzuki faces a familiar set piece with Mir’s eighth and Rins’ tenth on the grid similar to its grid positions from 2020 and 2021 when they struggled to get the most from the package over a single lap, both had expected a step forward from the 2022 evolution of the GSX-RR.

Even so, rivals have been impressed that Suzuki appears to have extracted significantly more power from the bike without affecting its handling, while practice times suggested it was still able to maintain its perennial strength of tyre preservation on long runs.

"I bet on Rins and Mir because I feel they are the strongest ones. I hope to be there and fight with them. 

"I feel like Honda and Suzuki did a great step. But here we are saying all the same; I think Suzuki has been very strong. They have more power for sure, but let’s see because before they used to save the tyre and manage really well at the end of the race. 

"Now with more power it’s not so easy. Let’s see how they manage the power at the end of the race. Maybe they will struggle more with this part. If not then it seems like they have a perfect bike."

Are Suzuki favourites for the Qatar MotoGP?

"I think the Suzuki riders are so fast,” Bastianini added. “Also with the used tyre. Always in this track more riders are competitive. Suzuki has a lot of corner speed and we (Ducati) can brake so late. 

"Also, tomorrow will depend on the conditions of the track. For the moment it has changed a lot from the morning to the afternoon and this can be critical."

Third place starter Marc Marquez was also wary of what Suzuki is hiding in race conditions.

“If we check FP2, FP3 then both the Suzuki riders,” the Repsol Honda rider said. “In FP4, Ducati riders did a step, especially Zarco. But Quartararo too. He is starting far but he has a good pace. 

"But overall, over the whole weekend I would say both Suzuki riders. We are at one of the more special tracks on the calendar so it’s too early to say who has the best bike. 

"I never agree with ‘who has the best bike or which is the bike’. I mean, it’s a compromise between bike, team and rider. 

"Then if you find a good compromise you will be fast in all race tracks. The key point is to suffer in a good way when you need to suffer and be there. Then in your strong races try to win."

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