Marc Marquez claimed his 30th MotoGP pole position by over three-tenths of a second from Andrea Iannone and Jorge Lorenzo, with Rossi starting from seventh.
Marquez took pole position at the Pramac Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix with an incredible display of riding. In near perfect conditions at Phillip Island the Spaniard set a 1:28.364 to show his rivals he is back to full fitness after breaking a bone in his left hand before the Japanese GP.
No one had an answer to the reigning MotoGP World Champion’s one-lap pace, despite it being almost half a second slower than Lorenzo’s 2013 pole record (1:27.899). Marquez, after finishing second in FP1 on Friday, has topped every session since and his race pace looks ominous at the only track on the MotoGP calendar where he has not scored a point in the premier class. He led the way from the very first lap in Q2 and was never knocked off the top, improving his time on his third run as he made use of a two-stop strategy.
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Iannone (+0.316s) also made use of a two-stop strategy and the extra soft option tire available to him to record only his third front row start of the season. The Italian set an identical time to Movistar Yamaha’s Lorenzo, but will start from second due to count back.
Lorenzo (+0.316s) completes the front row in third, making it 13 front row starts this year. It is actually his worst qualifying performance since his eighth in Assen as Lorenzo also made use of a two-stop strategy. However the two-time MotoGP champion will take heart from the fact the man who is leading him in the title standings by 18 points, Valentino Rossi, will be forced to start from seventh.
Marquez’s teammate Dani Pedrosa (+0.348s) looked like he would be on the front row as the clock ticked down in Q2, but will instead have to start from the front of the second row in fourth. LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow (+0.548s) followed up his excellent third place overall in practice with fifth, his best Qualifying result since he started the Indianapolis GP from fourth and it sees him as the leading Satellite rider.
Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Maverick Viñales (+0.568s) continued his excellent weekend and will start from sixth, just 0.02s behind Crutchlow. It was his best Qualifying performance since his second at the Catalan GP as the Spaniard made use of the sweet handling of his GSX-RR around the fast and flowing Phillip Island circuit.
Rossi’s recent good run in qualifying came to an end as he put on his worst performance since he claimed eighth at Indianapolis. The ‘Doctor’ improved his time from Practice by over seven-tenths, but it was only good enough for seventh and sees the Doctor start the race from the head of the third row.
Viñales’ teammate Aleix Espargaro will start the race from eighth after making it through from Q1 alongside his brother Pol, who qualified in ninth.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) was 10th fastest, with Brits Scott Redding (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) and Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) completing the fourth row, despite the latter becoming the only rider to crash so far throughout the weekend in FP4.
Hector Barbera (Avintia Racing) will start from 14th as the leading Open class rider ahead of local hero Jack Miller in 15th (LCR Honda) and Eugene Laverty (Aspar MotoGP Team) in 16th. Nicky Hayden (Aspar MotoGP Team) celebrated the announcement he will be inducted into the MotoGP Hall of Fame at Valencia by qualifying in 20th.
The Australian Grand Prix will be show LIVE Sunday at 12:30 a.m. ET on FS1.