Australian MotoGP: Marquez on pole as Dovizioso struggles
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.
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.
Live: Follow Australian MotoGP qualifying as it happens
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About this article
|Location||Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit|
|Drivers||Marc Marquez Shop Now , Maverick Viñales Shop Now|
|Author||Andrew van Leeuwen|
|Article type||Qualifying report|