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Marquez storms to pole with last-gasp lap in Qatar

updated 5:39 PM EDT, Sat March 22, 2014
Marc Marquez gives the thumbs up after securing pole for the opening race of the MotoGP season in Qatar.
Marc Marquez gives the thumbs up after securing pole for the opening race of the MotoGP season in Qatar.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Youngest-ever MotoGP world champion continues 2013 form with pole in first race of 2014
  • Spaniard Marquez recovering from a broken leg sustained last month
  • Spain's Alvaro Bautista starts Sunday's race in second; Britain's Bradley Smith starts third

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(CNN) -- Reigning world champion Marc Marquez may not be 100% fit for the MotoGP 2014 season opener in Qatar but that doesn't seem to matter.

A broken fibula in his right leg sustained while dirt-bike riding last month didn't appear to slow the 21-year-old Spaniard down at all in Saturday's qualifying session as he stormed to pole for Sunday's race.

He left it late though, waiting until the last lap to put in the fastest qualifying time of one minute, 54.507 seconds, edging out compatriot Alvaro Bautista.

Britain's Bradley Smith, who was riding a Yamaha Tech3, finished third.

Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso finished fourth while 2012 world champion Jorge Lorenzo was fifth fastest on his Yamaha. Honda's Dani Pedrosa will start Sunday's race from sixth.

Nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi starts on the fourth row.

"I'm very happy, after the injury and the loss of half the pre-season," Marquez said. "It's very important to be here on the front row. But the pole position makes me happy.

"Tomorrow is the most important; it will be very hard as there are many riders on the same pace," he added.

"Physical condition will also be difficult for me, as I don't have full power in my leg so I have to use more arms and this is quite hard over long a distance."

Marquez prevailed over compatriot Lorenzo in last year's championship, clinching the title at the final race of the season in Valencia.

A total of six wins and podium finishes in every race he completed in 2013 saw Marquez crowned the youngest MotoGP world champion ever -- and all in his rookie year.

Read more: Drama and intrigue: Curtain rises on MotoGP season

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