Marc Marquez took advantage of his new freedom, after wrapping up the 2018 MotoGP World Championship last weekend, by storming to his fifth straight pole position in Phillip Island, finishing 0.310 seconds clear of Maverick Vinales and Johann Zarco.
The session was destined to be filled with drama, as moments before the session started, rain was spotted out in Siberia and fears were that would be coming over the circuit. Thankfully the rain never came down but it did prompt a cautious start for many riders.
One rider who didn’t take the cautious approach was Jack ‘Jackass’ Miller. Miller went for it rom the first lap and soon had the fastest lap, only to then see Marqeuz got under his first time. Marquez then doubled down and went even faster than his first time to lead the field at the midway point of the session.
With rain still in the air, Alvaro Bautista had a strange crash going over Lukey Heights, losing the front end of his borrowed factory Ducati. Thankfully Bautista was okay.
With rain still threatening but not falling, times started to tumble and new names popped up at the top of the timing screens. First up was Andrea Iannone who had shown fantastic speed all weekend. The Maniac’s reign up top didn’t last long as the satellite Yamaha of Zarco soon went top.
Zarco suffered the same fate as Iannone before him and saw Marc Marquez smash his fastest lap and go top with a 1:29.199 over half a second clear of Zarco’s time.
Vinales soon went under Zarco’s time but was still just over three tenths of a second behind the World Champions time.
Just as the session appeared to be heating up for a thrilling final three minutes, the weather took over and more rain started to fall. Whilst not a downpour, it was enough to prevent anybody from improving and the times were done.
Iannone will be disappointed to miss out on the front row in fourth, but will be content with fourth place, just ahead of his team-mate Alex Rins and Miller who’ll start in fifth and sixth respectively.
Valentino Rossi will start from seventh place and will lead an all-Italian third row with Pramac’s Danilo Petruci in eighth. Factory Ducati man Andrea Dovizioso had a session to forget, never competitive in ninth place.
Hafizh Syahrin qualified in tenth on his Tech3 Yamaha with qualifying one’s two participants Pol Espargaro and Alvaro Bautista rounding out the front four rows.