Not content to win last year and dominate every practice session this weekend, Marc Marquez seized both the lap record and the pole position Saturday at the Circuit of the Americas near Austin.
Marquez record put him nearly three-tenths of a second clear of teammate Dani Pedrosa and again made Sunday's MotoGP sppear as a contest for second. Stefan Bradl, another two-tenths back, completed the all-Honda front row.
But for as strong as Marquez appears, his rivals now see a glimmer of hope. Not only did Pedrosa and Bradl close the gap -- Marquez had been running at least a full second faster than everyone else -- so did the all-Yamaha second row.
The open class Yamaha of Aleix Espargaro escaped the first qualifying session to lead the Yamaha row at 2'04.467 in Q2. Jorge Lorenzo (4th) and Valentino Rossi (5th) are only a few hundredths short of Espargaro and four-tenths of a second down on Marquez -- the narrowest gap for all the riders this weekend.
Cal Crutchlow finished qualifying as the top Ducati, barely clipping Bradley Smith (8th) in the process. Both Andreas, Iannone (9th) and Dovizioso (10th), didn't maintain the pace they had shown in practice and dropped to the bottom of the top 10. Pol Espargaro (11th) and Alvaro Bautista (12th) were the final riders to stay in the 2'03s.
Indeed, riders two through 12 were in the 2'03s. Only one rider managed to drop into the 2'02s and he did it three times in the session, with his final lap breaking his own record. In all, Marques has earned pole position 11 times in his 20-race MotoGP career (including COTA, 2014).
|Pos.||No.||Rider||Bike||Time||Diff. / Prev.|
|2||26||Dani PEDROSA||Honda||2'03.062||0.289 / 0.289|
|3||6||Stefan BRADL||Honda||2'03.196||0.423 / 0.134|
|4||41||Aleix ESPARGARO||Forward Yamaha||2'03.240||0.467 / 0.044|
|5||99||Jorge LORENZO||Yamaha||2'03.243||0.470 / 0.003|
|6||46||Valentino ROSSI||Yamaha||2'03.244||0.471 / 0.001|
|7||35||Cal CRUTCHLOW||Ducati||2'03.780||1.007 / 0.536|
|8||38||Bradley SMITH||Yamaha||2'03.800||1.027 / 0.020|
|9||29||Andrea IANNONE||Ducati||2'03.842||1.069 / 0.042|
|10||4||Andrea DOVIZIOSO||Ducati||2'03.846||1.073 / 0.004|
|11||44||Pol ESPARGARO||Yamaha||2'03.913||1.140 / 0.067|
|12||19||Alvaro BAUTISTA||Honda||2'03.923||1.150 / 0.010|
|13||45||Scott REDDING||Honda||2'04.617||0.177 / 0.074|
|14||69||Nicky HAYDEN||Honda||2'05.062||0.622 / 0.445|
|15||68||Yonny HERNANDEZ||Ducati||2'05.677||1.237 / 0.615|
|16||7||Hiroshi AOYAMA||Honda||2'05.788||1.348 / 0.111|
|17||17||Karel ABRAHAM||Honda||2'06.239||1.799 / 0.451|
|18||8||Hector BARBERA||Avintia||2'06.270||1.830 / 0.031|
|19||5||Colin EDWARDS||Forward Yamaha||2'06.741||2.301 / 0.471|
|20||70||Michael LAVERTY||PBM||2'06.939||2.499 / 0.198|
|21||23||Broc PARKES||PBM||2'07.403||2.963 / 0.464|
|22||9||Danilo PETRUCCI||ART||2'07.745||3.305 / 0.342|
|23||63||Mike DI MEGLIO||Avintia||2'07.761||3.321 / 0.016|