Newly-crowned MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez equalled Casey Stoner’s record of 12 poles in a season when he snatched top spot away from Britain’s Cal Crutchlow with his lap in today’s qualifying session at Phillip Island.
The Spaniard waited until the end of his second run to put in a 1’28.408 to topple Cruchlow’s Ducati. The Isle of Man resident had superseded Jorge Lorenzo’s time after grabbing a tow to register a 1’28.642 but said afterwards he was disappointed as he got held up on his fast lap.
Lorenzo rounded out the front row with a 1’28.650 in a session that was threatened by rain. In the last few minutes of qualifying one, spots of rain came down with lots of concerned faces in pitlane so Lorenzo took the safe option and was first on track, followed by Andrea Iannone while Dani Pedrosa was last.
Pedrosa fought back from disastrous free practice sessions which saw him have to go into qualifying one by pulling a lap from nowhere to go through into the second session. His 1’20.097 was, at that point, the quickest of the weekend so far, so whether departing crew chief Mike Leitner tuned the bike or took the rider for a quick re-programme is anyone’s guess.
Whichever, it wasn’t quite enough for a front row, nor was it enough to beat Bradley Smith’s Monster Yamaha. The Oxfordshire rider stuck in 1’28.656 on his eighth lap head row two by 0.019s from the Repsol Honda man. Aleix Espargaro was sixth.
Valentino Rossi couldn’t match his team-mate and ended down in eighth place, one behind Iannone who had led the session on his Pramac Ducati - bouncing back from a big free practice three crash when he went down at the 120+mph Doohan corner. The Doctor, meanwhile, was only 0.012s faster than Pol Espargaro in ninth.
For the first time this year, Andrea Dovizioso was comprehensively outqualified by teamster Crutchlow, sitting down in tenth and nearly seven-tenths off the pace. Row four is completed by Stefan Bradl and Hiro Aoyama.
Scott Redding found some pace in the last timed session to end in 13th with Nicky Hayden 15th. Michael Laverty, who is struggling massively for grip and visibly spinning everywhere, ended in 21st with PBM team-mate Broc Parkes 22nd.
Click here for times