With Marc Marquez and Fabio Quartararo engaged in a remote battle for domination throughout practice, all eyes were on the two of them from the moment the traffic light went green at the end of pitlane. The world champion dealt the first blow with a personal best on lap one but the Frenchman immediately hit back by half a tenth and so the tango started.
Quartararo started the final charge as the prey to Marquez’s hunter but both riders had their obstacles to overcome. The Yamaha man was alarmed by a warning light on his dash, which slowed his exit for the second run, while Marquez found himself in a game of cat and mouse with Valentino Rossi and Jack Miller. Quartararo was getting ever faster while the feisty trio was busy not giving each other a tow but they just about snuck in one final lap and let their speed do the talking. Rossi led the caravan that helped Marquez serve match point, score his 60th pole position and break the all-time lap record – for the n-th time this weekend, but if they’re not tired of doing it, I’m not tired of writing it.
Rossi surrendered to Marquez by four tenths of a second but front row would have looked a lot further away a few hours ago. With Miller as third carriage in the Rossi-Marquez train, the Pramac rider tagged along all the way to third grid position. Quartararo missed out on front row by only one hundredth of a second and will be disappointed with fourth grid position, given his speed throughout the weekend. Alex Rins escaped the dangers of Q1 and climbed all the way to fifth, being joined on row two by Maverick Vinales.
Andrea Dovizioso was the other Q1 escapee and despite setting an identical time to the Yamaha ahead, the Italian had to settle for row three, ahead of Franco Morbidelli and Cal Crutchlow. The LCR man will hope for a bit of a home race comeback, after a late crash at turn seven limited his progress on the grid. Nakagami rounded out the top ten and will open row four ahead of Danilo Petrucci and Aleix Espargaro, with the KTM’s of Pol Espargaro and Johann Zarco as best of the rest in Q1.