Nothing is stopping Marc Marquez right now. After winning his second consecutive MotoGP title last week, today he equalled another record. Just like former Repsol Honda riders Mick Doohan and Casey Stoner in 1997 and 2011, respectively, Marquez took his twelfth pole position of the season this Saturday. He was fastest in a qualifying session in which Dani Pedrosa finished fifth, after overcoming the grip problems he had suffered previously during the weekend. Pedrosa was just 0.033s off second place on the grid, occupied by Cal Crutchlow.
Pedrosa had to work hard in order to contest the Q2 qualifying session, after numerous problems with grip.
Eleventh in the combined standings for the prior practice sessions, he had to participate in Q1 in order to gain entry to the qualifying session that decided the grid. The Repsol Honda rider made a radical change, setting the fastest lap up to that point in the weekend to make it through.
In Q2 Pedrosa took the initiative, slotting into first place. However, he was unable to improve his lap and Marquez, who had been second in the two free practice sessions today, took 0.267s off his teammate’s time for pole position. Pedrosa will start the Australian GP from fifth.
The race will be held at 4pm local time tomorrow, and Marquez could match another Doohan record: That of 12 wins in a single season.
Marc Marquez 1st 1:28.408 40 laps 178 km
"Today I felt pretty good and that's important, because we found it hard yesterday and I was a bit too far off the pace. We improved a lot today and were riding more comfortably. We expect a hard-fought race tomorrow, but I just have to enjoy it. Above all, it will be difficult to stop both Jorge and Valentino, who seem to have the fastest race pace. My focus on track and ambition are the same as ever and we will try to be at the front, but also over the weekend we have been trying different things out with next season in mind".
Jorge Lorenzo 3rd / 1'28.650 / 8 laps
“I’m pleased because it’s always good to be on the front row. Obviously I wanted to take pole position, but my lap was not fast enough. Being on the first row is always positive and to have Rossi and Pedrosa in second and third row is really good. During Q1 I was a little bit nervous because from the garage I saw spits of rain on the track and we don’t like to ride in those conditions, but we were lucky. The rain stopped before Q2 and we could ride a normal session and push at the maximum. There are still some corners in which I’m not quite satisfied with the set up of the bike. We will try to modify some things for the warm-up tomorrow.”
Dani Pedrosa 5th 1:28.675 44 laps 196 km
"It was a difficult day because I did not qualify directly for Q2. I had many problems in the morning session, which also came up in the afternoon practice. However, in qualifying I took a big step forward. Unfortunately, as I had to go through Q1 I lost a tyre and in Q2 I could only use one. Nevertheless, my lap time was pretty good and, although I was bested by a few thousandths of a second, I could have placed very high up on the grid. Tomorrow we will try to fight our hardest in the race and get a good start, then concentrate on making each lap perfect".
MotoGP - Australian GP. Qualifying practice
1. Marc Marquez (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 1'28.408
2. Cal Crutchlow (GBR) Ducati Team 1'28.642
3. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 1'28.650
4. Bradley Smith (GBR) Monster Yamaha Tech3 1'28.656
5. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 1'28.675
6. Aleix Espargaro (SPA) NGM Forward Racing 1'28.866