Honda’s Marc Marquez will start the Australian MotoGP from pole position after dominating qualifying at Phillip Island.
Marquez was three-tenths of a second quicker than the Ducati of Andrea Iannone, who set exactly the same time – to the thousandth of a second – as Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo.
Marquez suffered a big scare when he almost fell on his second run, and visibly winced with his injured left hand due to the kickback through the handlebars. But he bounced back to extend his advantage on his penultimate lap of the session, earning his eighth pole of the season and the 30th of his MotoGP career… in only his third season.
Lorenzo’s title rival Valentino Rossi could only manage seventh on the grid for the inside of the third row.
Story of the session
Lorenzo was due to set the first flying lap, but lifted out of it when he realized Yamaha teammate Rossi tried to repeat his recent trick of tailing him to gain a tow.
That meant Marquez set the opening marker of 1m28.731s, with Lorenzo responding with 1m29.034s, 0.3s down after losing time in the final sector where Marquez has been imperious this weekend.
Aleix Espargaro popped into second on 1m29.015s, the Suzuki able to use the softer rear tyre along with the Ducatis. Rossi was P7 after the first run, 0.504s off Marquez’s pace.
On the first lap of his second run, Marquez had a huge moment – very nearly hitting the deck. He headed straight for the pits to return to his first bike. Then Iannone jumped up to second on 1m28.821s, just 0.09s off Marquez’s pole time.
Lorenzo improved to P3 on 1m28.839s, but a tell-take shake of the head showed he was less than ecstatic about the time.
Marquez lowered the bar on his third run to 1m28.364s, extending his advantage to almost half a second.
“With the third tyre, we did a good lap,” said Marquez. “[But] I’m sure Jorge will make a step [in the race] because he knows he has to win this race to fight for the title.”
Dani Pedrosa then rocketed to second to make it a Honda 1-2 on 1m28.712s, which temporarily pushed Lorenzo off the front row. Then Lorenzo improved to 1m28.680s, to snatch back his place on the front row only to discover Iannone had matched his time – to the thousandth – and earn the P2 spot.
Lorenzo was quick to show his anger that Iannone had deliberately towed him, and Iannone admitted he would never have got onto the front row without the tow.
“I did my best,” shrugged Lorenzo. “Position three is OK knowing that Valentino is seventh.”
Pedrosa ended the session fourth, ahead of Cal Crutchlow’s LCR Honda and the Suzuki of Maverick Vinales.
The Espargaro brothers progressed to Q2 from Q1, having lapped within 0.05s of each other with Pol just shading Aleix. They will start eighth and ninth, with Aleix eventually gaining the upper hand by two-tenths in Q2.
Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso, Scott Redding and Bradley Smith – who struggled after suffering a heavy fall in FP4 earlier this morning – rounded out the top 12.
2015 Australian GP qualifying results
|1||Marc Marquez||Honda RC213V||1:28.364|
|2||Andrea Iannone||Ducati GP15||1:28.680|
|3||Jorge Lorenzo||Yamaha YZR-M1||1:28.680|
|4||Dani Pedrosa||Honda RC213V||1:28.712|
|5||Cal Crutchlow||Honda RC213V||1:28.912|
|6||Maverick Viñales||Suzuki GSX-RR||1:28.932|
|7||Valentino Rossi||Yamaha YZR-M1||1:29.014|
|8||Aleix Espargaro||Suzuki GSX-RR||1:29.015|
|9||Pol Espargaro||Yamaha YZR-M1||1:29.222|
|10||Andrea Dovizioso||Ducati GP15||1:29.267|
|11||Scott Redding||Honda RC213V||1:29.499|
|12||Bradley Smith||Yamaha YZR-M1||1:29.626|
|13||Danilo Petrucci||Ducati GP14||1:29.918|
|14||Hector Barbera||Ducati GP14||1:30.064|
|16||Eugene Laverty||Honda RC213V-RS||1:30.105|
|17||Yonny Hernandez||Ducati GP14||1:30.135|
|18||Alvaro Bautista||Aprilia RS-GP||1:30.147|
|19||Loris Baz||Yamaha Forward||1:30.173|
|20||Nicky Hayden||Honda RC213V-RS||1:30.376|
|21||Stefan Bradl||Aprilia RS-GP||1:30.634|
|22||Mike di Meglio||Ducati GP14||1:30.959|
|23||Anthony West||Honda RC213V-RS||1:31.205|
|24||Toni Elias||Yamaha Forward||1:31.837|