Bagnaia’s three in a row ends Marquez’s seven-pole streak in Austin

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Austin (AFP)

Italian Francesco Bagnaia, riding a Ducati, won his third straight MotoGP pole position on Saturday at the Grand Prix of the Americas.

Bagnaia also ended the streak of seven consecutive poles of the six-time world champion Marc Marquez on the Texas circuit.

World championship leader Fabio Quartararo, on Yamaha, and Honda Marquez complete the front row for Sunday’s race, the 15th of the season.

Quartararo, 22, contender for the title of France’s first MotoGP world champion, has won five races this year and is 48 points ahead of Bagnaia.

However, the fit Italian has won the last two races.

Saturday’s qualifying at the Circuit of the Americas was overshadowed by anger over the condition of the track which will also host a Formula 1 race in three weeks.

During practice on Friday, Quartararo was particularly unhappy with the bumps that had appeared on the track, especially in turns 2, 3 and 10.

“It looks like a motocross training ground,” Quartararo said. “It’s hardly acceptable to run … and dangerous.”

Marquez won the first six races held at the Austin circuit but came out on top in 2019.

The event was called off last season as he recovered after breaking his right arm in an accident.

He’s come back this season and, while clearly not 100%, he’s been a lot stronger on the few counterclockwise circuits, like Austin, who was putting less pressure on his right arm.

Sunday’s front row start will be his first since returning to the sport.

Besides Quartararo and Bagnaia, three other men still have low mathematical chances of winning the title.

Frenchman Johann Zarco finished sixth on Saturday in a Ducati-Pramac with defending champion Joan Mir, on Suzuki, in eighth and Ducati factory rider Jack Miller from Australia qualified only 10th.

Aprilia racer Maverick Vinales, whose 15-year-old cousin Dean Berta Vinales was killed in a race in Jerez last weekend, has chosen not to race in Texas.

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