Australian MotoGP: Marquez on pole as Dovizioso struggles

Australian MotoGP: Marquez on pole as Dovizioso struggles
Andrew van Leeuwen
By: Andrew van Leeuwen
Oct 21, 2017, 5:07 AM

Marc Marquez stormed to pole for the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island, while MotoGP title rival Andrea Dovizioso struggled to just 11th on the grid.

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team
Maverick Viñales, Yamaha Factory Racing
Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team
Johann Zarco, Monster Yamaha Tech 3
Jack Miller, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS
Andrea Dovizioso, Ducati Team
Andrea Iannone, Team Suzuki MotoGP
Pol Espargaro Australian MotoGP 2017

Honda rider Marquez was unstoppable across the 15-minute Q2 session, constantly bouncing back to the top with each run.

In the end it was his 1m28.386s that bagged him a dominant pole, the time leaving him more than three-tenths clear of the field and 10 positions ahead of Dovizioso on the grid.

The Ducati rider went into the session on the back of a nasty fall over Lukey Heights in FP4, and never looked like contending for a front-row start.

In the end he couldn’t even finish inside the top 10, ending up more than a second off the pace down in 11th after failing to improve on his final run.

The early part of the session was dominated by a three-bike long train featuring Marquez, Andrea Iannone's Suzuki, and Jack Miller's Marc VDS Honda.

The trio, running nose-to-tail, broke into the 1m28s for the first time this weekend five minutes in, Marquez leading the way with a 1m28.884s, with just 0.08s back to Miller in third.

Those times lasted until the final runs, when Johann Zarco jumped to the top with a 1m28.744s. He was then replaced by Maverick Vinales’ 1m28.719s, before Marquez trumped them all at the flag.

Vinales ended up second, ahead of Zarco and Iannone.

Miller’s time left him an impressive fifth – a career best – ahead of Pol Espargaro, who also took KTM’s best grid spot of its debut season.

Valentino Rossi came through Q1 to qualify seventh on the second works Yamaha, followed by Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) and Bradley Smith (also via Q1).

Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) had been sitting seventh before the final sprint at the end of the session, and was on to improve with a little under three minutes to go when he went fastest through sector one.

However he swiftly went down at Honda, ending his session on the spot. He’ll start the race 10th.

Dani Pedrosa finished at the back of the queue, and will start from 12th.

Q1: Lorenzo fails to make the cut

Rossi topped the first 15-minute segment of qualifying, while Smith secured passage to Q2 for the second time in as many rounds with second.

That meant Jorge Lorenzo missed out on a Q2 spot, going just sixth quickest in the wake of his Free Practice 3 crash, which left him with a suspected sprained ankle. He’ll start the Phillip Island race from 16th.

Rossi went quick enough to top Q1 before the final flurry at the end of the session with a 1m20.665s set five minutes into the session, but still improved on his final run with a 1m29.346s to put progression beyond doubt.

It wasn’t quite as comfortable for Smith, however, the KTM driver jumping from fifth to second on his final run with a 1m29.705s to secure his third Q1 spot for the season, and second in succession.

Smith’s late lap knocked Alex Rins out of Q1, the Suzuki rider falling just over a tenth short of progression.

Aussie Broc Parkes, standing in for the ill Jonas Folger, did an impressive job on the unfamiliar Tech 3 Yamaha, out-pacing Alvaro Bautista and Sam Lowes to qualify 21st.

Q2 results:

1 93 spain Marc Marquez  Honda 1'28.386  
2 25 spain Maverick Viñales  Yamaha 1'28.719 0.333
3 5 france Johann Zarco  Yamaha 1'28.744 0.358
4 29 italy Andrea Iannone  Suzuki 1'28.937 0.551
5 43 australia Jack Miller  Honda 1'28.964 0.578
6 44 spain Pol Espargaro  KTM 1'29.030 0.644
7 46 italy Valentino Rossi  Yamaha 1'29.203 0.817
8 41 spain Aleix Espargaro  Aprilia 1'29.271 0.885
9 38 united_kingdom Bradley Smith  KTM 1'29.321 0.935
10 35 united_kingdom Cal Crutchlow  Honda 1'29.429 1.043
11 4 italy Andrea Dovizioso  Ducati 1'29.496 1.110
12 26 spain Dani Pedrosa  Honda 1'29.546 1.160

Q1 results:

1 46 italy Valentino Rossi  Yamaha 1'29.346  
2 38 united_kingdom Bradley Smith  KTM 1'29.705 0.359
3 42 spain Alex Rins  Suzuki 1'29.824 0.478
4 53 spain Tito Rabat  Honda 1'29.847 0.501
5 17 czech_republic Karel Abraham  Ducati 1'29.961 0.615
6 99 spain Jorge Lorenzo  Ducati 1'30.085 0.739
7 76 france Loris Baz  Ducati 1'30.224 0.878
8 9 italy Danilo Petrucci  Ducati 1'30.471 1.125
9 8 spain Hector Barbera  Ducati 1'30.543 1.197
10 45 united_kingdom Scott Redding  Ducati 1'30.806 1.460
11 23 australia Broc Parkes  Yamaha 1'30.889 1.543
12 19 spain Alvaro Bautista  Ducati 1'30.900 1.554
13 22 united_kingdom Sam Lowes  Aprilia 1'31.158 1.812
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