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MotoGP Australia: Marquez untouchable in pole blitz

Honda's Marc Marquez three tenths clear of Andrea Iannone and Jorge Lorenzo in MotoGP qualifying, Valentino Rossi shunted back to third row at Phillip Island.
Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez rarely looked under threat for pole in the Australian MotoGP at Phillip Island as the reigning world champion obliterated his premier class rivals in final qualifying.

Marquez put the RCV on the top spot with a searing lap in 1m 28.364s to confirm his eighth pole start of the season ahead of Ducati's Andrea Iannone and irate title challenger Jorge Lorenzo on the Movistar Yamaha, who made his contempt clear to Iannone at the end of Q2 after the Italian followed the factory M1 around for the second time, gaining the perfect tow to haul himself into second position. The pair set exactly the same lap time.

Championship leader Valentino Rossi was unable to seal a place on the front two rows after being shunted back to seventh in the final seconds by the late-charging Dani Pedrosa, who gate crashed the top six to climb to fourth on the second Repsol Honda.

Marquez, opting for a two-stop strategy, shot straight to the head of the time sheets with the fastest lap of the weekend in his first run, lapping in 1m 28.731s with Lorenzo slotting into second place, 0.3s behind.

The Honda star had a moment on his second run the Honda Hairpin, blowing his chance of improving his time as his feet came off the pegs.

Marquez had earlier run-off track at the same spot in FP3.

Iannone moved up to second place on the GP15 after following Lorenzo on his second run, with the Majorcan dropping to third. The two-time MotoGP champion was the last rider to exit pit lane at the start of Q2, presumably to reduce the chances of being trailed after team-mate Rossi gained a tow at Motegi last weekend to Lorenzo's disdain.

Lorenzo also undertook a two-stop strategy and entered the pits as Suzuki's Maverick Vinales makes good progress on the GSX-RR to go fourth.

LCR Honda's Cal Crutchlow then put in a hot lap to overhaul the series rookie and move onto row two, while Marquez turned the screw again on his third time attack, improving to 1m 28.364s to consolidate pole.

Lorenzo was now back on track with Iannone right behind the Yamaha for the second time in Q2 and both riders set identical lap times in 1m 28.680s, with Lorenzo gesticulating at the Italian on his slowing down lap after losing a position on the front row.

Pedrosa was pushed back to fourth on row two after shooting into second place on his final run before Iannone and Lorenzo improved, while Crutchlow lost a place to qualify fifth ahead of Vinales, who held onto his spot on the second row.

Next up was Rossi in seventh, who will need a lightning start from row three in Sunday's race to have any chance of keeping in touch with the leaders on the opening lap.

The 36-year-old, six tenths down on Marquez's time, is joined on the third row by Suzuki's Aleix Espargaro and his brother Pol on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine, who managed to qualify ahead of team-mate Bradley Smith. The Espargaro brothers progressed to Q2 from Q1, with Pol fastest by 0.050s.

Smith was 12th overall on the satellite Yamaha M1 and will have to come from last place on the fourth row, which is headed up by Andrea Dovizioso – out-qualified once more by team-mate Iannone – and Scott Redding on the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda.

Pramac Ducati's Danilo Petrucci was 13th ahead of top Open rider Hector Barbera on the Avintia Ducati GP14, with the pair sharing row five with Aussie hope Jack Miller (LCR Honda).

Eugene Laverty qualified 16th on the Aspar Honda followed by Yonny Hernandez (Pramac Ducati) and Alvaro Bautista on the Aprilia RS-GP, with Nicky Hayden (Aspar Honda), Stefan Bradl (Aprilia) and Mike de Meglio (Avintia Ducati) completing the seventh row.

Australia's Damian Cudlin, who replaces the injured Alex de Angelis in the IodaRacing team, was 25th on the ART.

1 Marc Marquez
2 Andrea Iannone
3 Jorge Lorenzo
4 Dani Pedrosa
5 Cal Crutchlow
6 Maverick Viñales
7 Valentino Rossi
8 Aleix Espargaro
9 Pol Espargaro
10 Andrea Dovizioso
11 Scott Redding
12 Bradley Smith

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Marquez, Australian MotoGP 2015
Crutchlow, Australian MotoGP 2016
Reddng, Petrucci, Smith Australian MotoGP 2016
Hayden after crash, Australian MotoGP 2016
Redding, Petrucci Australian MotoGP 2016
Hayden, Australian MotoGP 2016
Barbera, Smith Australian MotoGP 2016
Hayden, Miller Australian MotoGP 2016
Redding, Australian MotoGP 2016
Redding, Australian MotoGP 2016
Pol Espargaro, Australian MotoGP 2016
Rossi, Australian MotoGP 2016
Rossi, Australian MotoGP 2016
Bradl, Hayden, Australian MotoGP 2016
Lorenzo, Australian MotoGP 2016
Redding, Australian MotoGP 2016
Dovizioso, Australian MotoGP 2016
Hayden, Australian MotoGP 2016

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