Jorge Martin will start from pole position for the Australian MotoGP after breaking the lap record to put clear distance between himself and the opposition during qualifying at Phillip Island.
The Pramac Ducati rider turned in a new best of 1m 27.246secs to stretch a margin of +0.4s between himself and Brad Binder in second, while Martin’s title rival Pecco Bagnaia completes the front row on the factory Ducati.
In a shake-up to this weekend’s Australian MotoGP programme, the Sprint Race and full-length MotoGP race will swap positions in the schedule with the latter to take place later today instead of Sunday.
Indeed, with bad weather forecast for Sunday, the opportunity to score a maximum 25 points for victory today plays into Martin's hands as he sent out a warning shot to Bagnaia with a dominant showing around the Melbourne venue.
Hitting the top of the timesheets with his first flying effort, Martin wouldn’t be headed at any stage in the Q2 session as he proceeded to chip away at his quickest time and eventually his own new lap record.
Coming just a week after his momentum in the title battle - which had taken him all the way to the top of the standings - stalled upon crashing away a potential seventh win in eight races in Indonesia, Martin ensured he is well placed to get back to his title focus.
He will face closer competition from Bagnaia this weekend, however, after the Italian dodged a repeat of last week’s lowly starting position by successfully progressing out of Q1 and going all the way to third.
Splitting the Ducati pair will be Binder, who secured a career-best starting position in second place aboard the factory KTM, just under a tenth up on Bagnaia.
Aleix Espargaro made strong strides to head up the Aprilia challenge in fourth place, ahead of Johann Zarco on the second of the Pramac Ducati machines, while Fabio di Giannantonio continued his positive run of form by completing row two.
Despite doing his best to tow Bagnaia during the closing stages, Marc Marquez couldn’t join him further up the order, the eight-time World Champion - who made it into Q2 via Q1 - landing in seventh, where he will be joined on row three by home hero Jack Miller in eighth and Maverick Vinales in ninth.
Marco Bezzecchi - still feeling the effects of the collarbone injury he sustained a fortnight ago - will get underway from tenth place, while Pol Espargaro and Enea Bastianini brought up the rear among the Q2 contenders with mid-grid starting positions of 11th and 12th.
Elsewhere, while Marc Marquez would progress through to Q2 from Q1, it came at the expense of sibling Alex Marquez, the Spaniard heading up row five in 13th on the Gresini Ducati for what will be his first race outing since Misano.
Augusto Fernandez was 14th on the timesheets but will start 17th on the grid after incurring a three-place grid penalty, his demotion lifting Raul Fernandez, Joan Mir and Fabio Quartararo up a spot to 14th, 15th and 16th respectively.
Meanwhile, a week after achieving his first career MotoGP pole position in Indonesia, Luca Marini endured a rather different afternoon at Phillip Island after only managing 18th on the grid.
|2023 Australian MotoGP | Phillip island Circuit | Qualifying Results | Round 16 of 20|
|1||Jorge Martin||🇪🇦||Prima Pramac Racing||Ducati GP23||1m 27.246|
|2||Brad Binder||🇿🇦||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM RC16||1m 27.662|
|3||Pecco Bagnaia||🇮🇹||Ducati Lenovo Team||Ducati GP23||1m 27.714|
|4||Aleix Espargaro||🇪🇦||Aprilia Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||1m 27.844|
|5||Johann Zarco||🇨🇵||Prima Pramac Racing||Ducati GP23||1m 27.903|
|6||Fabio di Giannantonio||🇮🇹||Gresini Racing MotoGP||Ducati GP22||1m 27.919|
|7||Marc Marquez||🇪🇦||Repsol Honda Team||Honda RC213V||1m 28.012|
|8||Jack Miller||🇦🇺||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM RC16||1m 28.074|
|9||Maverick Vinales||🇪🇦||Aprilia Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||1m 28.093|
|10||Marco Bezzecchi||🇮🇹||Mooney VR46 Racing||Ducati GP22||1m 28.121|
|11||Pol Espargaro||🇪🇦||GasGas Factory Racing Tech3||KTM RC16||1m 28.234|
|12||Enea Bastianini||🇮🇹||Ducati Lenovo Team||Ducati GP23||1m 28.287|
|13||Alex Marquez||🇪🇦||Gresini Racing MotoGP||Ducati GP22||1m 28.324|
|14||Raul Fernandez||🇪🇦||CryptoData RNF Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||1m 28.607|
|15||Joan Mir||🇪🇦||Repsol Honda Team||Honda RC213V||1m 28.841|
|16||Fabio Quartararo||🇨🇵||Monster Energy Yamaha||Yamaha M1||1m 28.925|
|17||Augusto Fernandez||🇪🇦||GasGas Factory Racing Tech3||KTM RC16||1m 28.435 *|
|18||Luca Marini||🇮🇹||Mooney VR46 Racing||Ducati GP22||1m 29.047|
|19||Miguel Oliveira||🇵🇹||CryptoData RNF Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||1m 29.182|
|20||Takaaki Nakagami||🇯🇵||LCR Honda IDEMITSU||Honda RC213V||1m 28.419|
|21||Franco Morbidelli||🇮🇹||Monster Energy Yamaha||Yamaha M1||1m 29.832|
|W||Alex Rins||🇪🇦||LCR Honda Castrol||Honda RC213V||No Time|
|* Augusto Fernandez drops from 14th to 17th due to grid penalty|