HOLE SHOT FOR DOVIZIOSO: Ducati has scored pole position for the 2015 Qatar MotoGP with Andrea Dovizioso in the saddle.Image: AP / Osama Faisal
QATAR, UAE - Back in 2014 it was Honda's Marc Marquez who seemed to have a permanent parking spot at the front of the MotoGP series grid - is 2015 going to be different?
Could be, with Ducati coming to the fore on Saturday ahead of the Qatar GP, the first race of the season.
JUST A TENTH
And it was Andrea Dovizioso in the saddle as the changing positions of the placing table finally came to a stop with a lap of 1min54.113, followed by Honda's Dani Pedrosa on 1min54.33.
Favourite Marc Marquez, the hero of the previous two seasons, took third - only a tenth behind his team mate.
Reuters ALAN BALDWIN reported later: Andrea Dovizioso put resurgent Ducati on pole for MotoGP's season-opening Qatar GP with Honda's double champion Marc Marquez having to settle for third best under the floodlights on Saturday.
Dovizioso seized only his third career pole in the top category with his final lap in the dying seconds after Marquez's team mate Dani Pedrosa, who will line up second, had set the early time to beat.
Dovizioso told BT Sport: "The pace of the bike is so good, now we can think of fighting with the fastest riders in the race.”
FASTER THAN MARQUEZ
Ducati has not won in MotoGP since 2010 but is competing this season in the 'open' category which allows them softer tyres in qualifying than factory rivals as well as other advantages.
Dovizioso's best time of 1min54.113 was 0.217 quicker than Spaniard Pedrosa and beat last year's winner Marquez by 0.324sec.
Marquez, who took the Qatar pole in 2015, said afterwards: "Most important is that we got the target - the front row. Of course I expected a little bit more but I made a few mistakes, maybe I pushed too much.
"Anyway the most important thing is that for tomorrow we have a good pace, we will try to enjoy the race and it will be really interesting."
THREE TOP PLACES FOR DUCATI
Three of the top five places went to Ducati riders: Italian Andrea Iannone was fourth and Colombian Yonny Hernandez fifth for the non-works Pramac team.
Britain's Cal Crutchlow, a strong second to Marquez in practice on Friday, crashed out of the pole session and qualified 12th for his LCR Honda team.
2015 Qatar MotoGP qualifying
1 Andrea Dovizioso (Italy) Ducati - 1min54.113
2 Dani Pedrosa (Spain) Repsol Honda - 1min54.33
3 Marc Marquez (Spain) Repsol Honda - 1min54.437
4 Andrea Iannone (Italy) Ducati - 1min54.521
5 Yonny Hernandez (Colombia) Pramac - 1min54.675
6 Jorge Lorenzo (Spain) Yamaha - 1min54.711
7 Bradley Smith (Britain) Yamaha Tech 3 - 1min54.732
8 Valentino Rossi (Italy) Yamaha - 1min54.851
9 Danilo Petrucci (Italy) Pramac 1min54.876
10 Pol Espargaro (Spain) Yamaha Tech 3 - 1min55.004
1 Sam Lowes (Britain) Speed up - 1min59.423
2 Johann Zarco (France) Kalex - 1min59.755
3 Tito Rabat (Spain) Kalex - 1min59.813
4 Sandro Cortese (Germany) Kalex - 1min59.845
5 Jonas Folger (Germany) Kalex - 1min59.938
6 Xavier Simeon (Belgium) Kalex - 2min00.232
7 Thomas Luethi (Switzerland) Kalex - 2min00.284
8 Franco Morbidelli (Italy) Kalex - 2min00.396
9 Alex Rins (Spain) Kalex - 2min00.479
10 Simone Corsi (Italy) Kalex - 2min00.584
1 Alexis Masbou (France) Honda - 2min06.170
2 Isaac Vinales (Spain) Husqvarna - 2min06.237
3 Niccolo Antonelli (Italy) Honda - 2min06.245
4 Francesco Bagnaia (Italy) Mahindra - 2min06.253
5 John McPhee (Britain) Honda - 2min06.254
6 Fabio Quartararo (France) Honda - 2min06.293
7 Andrea Locatelli (Italy) Honda - 2min06.323
8 Miguel Oliveira (Portugal) KTM - 2min06.378
9 Danny Kent (Britain) Honda - 2min06.426
10 Efren Vazquez (Spain) Honda - 2min06.465