Phillip Island MotoGP: Marquez takes fifth circuit pole in a row

The newly-crowned 2018 MotoGP champion Marc Marquez dominated a tricky qualifying session on his Honda to take his fifth consecutive pole position at Phillip Island

Phillip Island MotoGP: Marquez takes fifth circuit pole in a row

Honda's rider made the best of changing conditions to set a stunning 1m29.199s lap time, leaving him more than three tenths clear of Yamaha duo Maverick Vinales and Johann Zarco.

A short burst of rain as the session began left conditions delicately poised in terms of tyre choice. The possibility of heavier rain led to a frantic race to bank slick tyre laps from the word go.

Marquez responded accordingly, going quickest with a 1m31.282s, before really putting the hammer down and clearing the field by over a second with a 1m29.742s on his second lap.

Vinales was keen to go with Marquez closing to within 0.082s just seconds later.

As the weather stabilised at the mid-way point, the times kept falling. First it was the practice pacesetter, Suzuki's Andrea Iannone, who took over top spot with a 1m29.712s, before Zarco banked a 1m29.705s.

But then a well-timed slipstream courtesy of Iannone's team-mate Alex Rins gave Marquez another formidable gap - a 1m29.199s putting him more than half a second clear of the field.

That margin was reduced to three tenths by Vinales with four minutes to go, but that was as close as it got. A hint of rain in the dying stages of the session curtailed any last-minute heroics.

Iannone ended up fourth, followed by Rins and local star Jack Miller, who was best of the Ducatis.

Valentino Rossi was seventh quickest, while Danilo Petrucci relegated Andrea Dovizioso down to ninth.

Having cruised out of Q1, Alvaro Bautista was the sole rider to crash out of Q2. Jorge Lorenzo's replacement fell after losing the rear of his Ducati - the bike firing into the tyre wall.

That meant he finished up 12th, behind Hafizh Syahrin and Pol Espargaro.

Bautista held a comfortable gap after the first runs in the opening segment of qualifying; a 1m30.969s followed by a 1m30.344s left him the best part of half a second over the chasing field.

At that point Franco Morbidelli was sitting second, before Karel Abraham closed the gap to Bautista down to 0.2s with eight minutes remaining.

As the final runs kicked off Bautista put his Q2 promotion beyond doubt with a 1m29.851s, which would ultimately prove unbeatable.

Then Pol Espargaro made his play for KTM's first Q2 appearance of the season, jumping from sixth to second with a 1m30.105s.

Abraham went close to reclaiming second spot inside the final minute, but fell 0.069s short of Espargaro's time.

Takaaki Nakagami slotted into fourth for the session, followed by Morbidelli and Bradley Smith.

Xavier Simeon was next, while Dani Pedrosa never even looked like fighting for a Q2 spot. The Honda rider ended up eighth for the session and therefore 18th on the grid, more than 0.6s off what was needed to get out of Q1.

Provisional starting grid

Pos Rider Team Bike Time Gap
1 Marc Marquez Honda Honda 1m29.199s -
2 Maverick Vinales Yamaha Yamaha 1m29.509s 0.310s
3 Johann Zarco Tech3 Yamaha Yamaha 1m29.705s 0.506s
4 Andrea Iannone Suzuki Suzuki 1m29.712s 0.513s
5 Alex Rins Suzuki Suzuki 1m30.026s 0.827s
6 Jack Miller Pramac Ducati Ducati 1m30.140s 0.941s
7 Valentino Rossi Yamaha Yamaha 1m30.270s 1.071s
8 Danilo Petrucci Pramac Ducati Ducati 1m30.328s 1.129s
9 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati Ducati 1m30.519s 1.320s
10 Hafizh Syahrin Tech3 Yamaha Yamaha 1m30.593s 1.394s
11 Pol Espargaro KTM KTM 1m30.640s 1.441s
12 Alvaro Bautista Ducati Ducati 1m32.367s 3.168s
13 Karel Abraham Aspar Ducati Ducati 1m30.174s -
14 Takaaki Nakagami LCR Honda Honda 1m30.452s -
15 Franco Morbidelli MVDS Honda Honda 1m30.518s -
16 Bradley Smith KTM KTM 1m30.646s -
17 Xavier Simeon Avintia Ducati Ducati 1m30.679s -
18 Dani Pedrosa Honda Honda 1m30.770s -
19 Aleix Espargaro Aprilia Aprilia 1m30.911s -
20 Thomas Luthi MVDS Honda Honda 1m30.958s -
21 Jordi Torres Avintia Ducati Ducati 1m31.141s -
22 Scott Redding Aprilia Aprilia 1m31.309s -
23 Mike Jones Aspar Ducati Ducati 1m32.639s -


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Phillip Island MotoGP practice: Marquez edges Vinales on Saturday

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About this article

Series MotoGP
Drivers Alex Marquez , Marc Marquez
Teams AB Motoracing
Author Andrew van Leeuwen
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