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Having earlier towed Andrea Iannone to the top of the timesheets, Marc Marquez found space on his final run to claim pole position for the Australian MotoGP at Phillip Island.

While Marquez sought space, Johann Zarco and Maverick Vinales had shuffled the Repsol Honda star to the outside of the front row. But once back on the power, the reigning triple champion posted a 1m 28.386s to settle the qualifying contest.

With title rival Andrea Dovizioso languishing in eleventh, Marquez looks poised to regain points on the Ducati rider, who suffered a heavy fall in final practice. However much will depend on the race day weather, with the Saturday showers forecast to continue tomorrow.

Movistar Yamaha's Vinales was 0.333s behind Marquez for a welcome return to the sharp end following a miserable Motegi, with rookie Zarco just 0.025s slower on the satellite Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine.

Suzuki's Iannone didn't improve on his early lap behind Marquez, but still held on for his best qualifying since Qatar, in fourth.

The Italian will be joined on row two by home star Jack Miller (Marc VDS Honda), who delighted the local fans on his return from a broken leg after joining Iannone in shadowing Marquez. 

Pol Espargaro claimed KTM's best qualifying result in sixth. The Spaniard's late push came at the expense of factory Yamaha's Valentino Rossi, who had been forced to take part in Qualifying 1 (which he led). Next to Rossi on the grid will be Aprilia's Aleix Espargaro, quickest on Friday, and the second KTM of Bradley Smith.

LCR Honda's Cal Crutchlow fell while on pole pace in the closing stages and will start just eleventh, in front of Dovizioso and Marquez's team-mate Dani Pedrosa.

Among those not taking part in Qualifying 2 were Ducati riders Jorge Lorenzo and Danilo Petrucci. Lorenzo still looked sore after a heavy fall in this morning's wet FP3, while Petrucci lost the front under braking for MG during Qualifying 1.

Marquez has an eleven point lead over Dovizioso heading into Sunday's race with Vinales 41 points adrift.


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