Ducati-Pramac’s Martin, who finished second to Bagnaia in last season’s world championship, set the fastest time of 1min 50.789sec on the windy Lusail track. He was followed by compatriot Aleix Espargaro of Aprilia in second place and Italian Enea Bastianini of Ducati in third.

Italy’s reigning two-time world champion Bagnaia will start from the second row on his factory Ducati after posting the fifth fastest time. South African Brad Binder completed the top four before crashing late in the session.

Martin was on course to improve his time on his final lap, but it was cancelled due to Binder’s crash.

Marc Marquez, the six-time MotoGP champion, finished in sixth place in his first race on the Gresini-Ducati. Before the race, Marquez admitted that he felt “comfortable” but not yet ready to compete for the podium or the victory. He emphasized that his main focus is on learning and getting used to the new bike, which is a significant departure from the Hondas he has been riding since 2013.

Spanish teenager Pedro Acosta had an impressive debut weekend among the elite, securing the eighth best time on his Red Bull GASGAS Tech3.

The pre-qualifying tests, initially scheduled for Friday evening, were postponed due to rain. The sprint race will begin later on Saturday at 1600GMT, followed by the main event on Sunday at 1900GMT.