Despite the overcast conditions, the two Yamahas started Q2 in the hot seat, before Marc Marquez shook off Loris Baz and blasted his way into the 1:23s on his fourth lap, leaving the pretenders with a seven-tenth gap to bridge. By the time the first run was done and dusted, Dovizioso got as close as three tenths of a second on the medium rear tyre and made a statement of intent on Ducati’s behalf.
Surprisingly, the Italian did not give the soft rear a try on the second run either, teammate Jorge Lorenzo becoming Marquez’s first challenger, only a tenth behind his compatriot. Marquez put those ambitions to rest soon after, to improve two tenths further and get tantalizingly close to the fastest lap record of the circuit. The Spaniard settled pole position with time to spare, scoring his third consecutive pole and his 70th in all classes.
Dovizioso chased the Spaniard on track and waited until the very last lap to jump ahead of this teammate and into second on the grid. All those pre-race predictions seeing Lorenzo’s first win for Ducati might have looked sketchy on Friday but the Spanish rider snuck onto the front row to improve his (and Ducati’s) odds.
A front row looked all set for Maverick Viñales until Dovizioso popped up, relegating the first Yamaha to fourth place on the grid. That leaves us with the fastest man of the weekend sharing front row with the pre-race favourites and the tempting prospect of the much-anticipated battle royale between Marquez and Viñales.
For that to happen, Viñales needs to keep at bay Q1 escapee Danilo Petrucci, who made it three Ducatis in the top five, with Johann Zarco completing the second row of the grid for Tech 3.
After babysitting Karel Abraham for several laps, Valentino Rossi escaped from his reach and scored seventh on the grid. Having to travail through Q1, Dani Pedrosa finished only three thousandths of a second behind Rossi, in eight place. The third row of the grid will also contain Cal Crutchlow, the LCR man being the first rider not dipping his toes into the 1:23s.
Andrea Iannone, Karel Abraham and Loris Baz make up the fourth row, the trio a second slower than the poleman.
After narrowly failing to make it through Q1, Jonas Folger will start thirteenth, ahead of Hector Barbera, but probably not as disappointed as Alvaro Bautista in seventeenth and Aleix Espargaro in twentieth position.