MotoGP: Marquez throws down the gauntlet with pole at Phillip Island
Saturday, 21 October 2017- Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) will be starting from pole at Phillip Island, as the reigning Champion took back the honour on his final lap after being threatened at the top by Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) and Motegi polesitter Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), who now join the reigning Champion on the front row. Marquez’ key title rival Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) had a tough session, taking P11. Skies were dry, but it remained far from tropical on the Island.
Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) heads up the second row as one of the key protagonists of the 2015 Island Battle was unleashed in Q2, with Jack Miller (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) another notable performance in P5 – equaling his best ever qualifying result, also gained at Phillip Island last season. Miller is also back on the grid for the first time since breaking his leg in training three weeks ago, making the second row start even more impressive.
Sixth on the grid is yet another stunning display of progress for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing as Pol Espargaro took the marque onto the second row – and in fully dry conditions. Espargaro has a good record at the Island, including the biggest winning margin in Moto2™ history in 2012.
Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) – the man who led the charge from Q1 – took P7, with Friday’s fastest Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) just behind in eighth. Bradley Smith (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), who followed Rossi through from Q1, will line up ninth – making it all KTM riders in Q2 in the dry for the first time. In 2014, Smith took his first premier class podium at the venue.
Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) crashed out on a hot lap and was left to complete the top ten, with Andrea Dovizioso just 0.067 seconds behind the Brit. A tough day at the office, ‘DesmoDovi’ will want to replicate his form from the early stages of the Japanese GP, when he moved through from P9 to get in the fight at the front and then take that stunning win. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) was P12.
Just left behind in Q1, Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) will start thirteenth, ahead of Tito Rabat (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) and Karel Abraham (Pull&Bear Aspar Team). Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) qualified in P16 after a big crash in FP3 – rider ok, but with a sprained left ankle. The Majorcan will be looking to his stunning record at smashing the pain barrier to move forward on Sunday.
It’s Phillip Island, it’s uncertain weather, and it’s 11 points in it. Make sure to watch the rumble Down Under on Sunday, with lights out at the slightly later hour of 16:00local time (GMT +11).