Marc Marquez continued his mastery of the Circuit of the Americas Saturday with a scorching final lap of 2'02.741 to grab his fifth straight pole position as qualifying time expired at the Texas track. Maverick Vinales, who has been trading top times with Marquez the whole weekend, got pushed into second after he appeared to have the pole sealed up.
Valentino Rossi continued his steady improvement over the weekend to grab the final front-row spot on his final flying lap -- but still nearly a second slower than Marquez. Dani Pedrosa (4th) who has been quick and steady all weekend just pipped Johan Zarco (5th) at the end of the 15-minute Q2. Jorge Lorenzo (6th) made a huge jump forward on the factory Ducati with the final spot on the second row.
Andrea Dovizioso (7th), who has a miserable FP4 with two mechanical failures, leads the third row at two-tenths off teammate Lorenzo's time. Eighth-place Jonas Folger completed completed a Yamaha four-for-four with all of the manufacturer's bikes qualifying in the top 10. Cal Crutchlow crashed early in the short session but still managed a ninth-fastest time, just ahead of Scott Redding (10th).
Marquez, who has won every race he has entered at COTA, didn’t waste any time trying to establish dominance in the short session. But perhaps that's because for the first time at the Austin track, he appears to have a geniune rival in Vinales.
Straight away, Marquez jumped into the high 2’03s by his second fast lap. Then, seven minutes into the session, he turned up the wick even higher with a 2’03.042 -- the fastest MotoGP lap of the weekend at that point.
But unlike the previous five years, someone had a response for the King of Texas. As the rest of 12-bike field fought for the remaining positions, Vinales and Marquez set their sights on pole with both riders dropping into the 2'02s -- the only two riders to do so this weekend. With time nearly expired, Vinales appeared poised to grab pole with his fastest ever lap at the track, a 2'02.871.
His only liability? Vinales did it with seconds remaining on the clock which has proven to be all Marquez needs in the Lone Star state. The World Champion responded emphatically with a final blistering 2'02.741 -- five tenths of a second from his own 2015 lap record.
|Pos.||No.||Rider||Bike||Time||Diff. / Prev.|
|2||25||Maverick VIÑALES||Yamaha||2'02.871||0.130 / 0.130|
|3||46||Valentino ROSSI||Yamaha||2'03.673||0.932 / 0.802|
|4||26||Dani PEDROSA||Honda||2'03.866||1.125 / 0.193|
|5||5||Johann ZARCO||Yamaha||2'03.928||1.187 / 0.062|
|6||99||Jorge LORENZO||Ducati||2'04.151||1.410 / 0.223|
|7||4||Andrea DOVIZIOSO||Ducati||2'04.431||1.690 / 0.280|
|8||94||Jonas FOLGER||Yamaha||2'04.623||1.882 / 0.192|
|9||35||Cal CRUTCHLOW||Honda||2'04.661||1.920 / 0.038|
|10||45||Scott REDDING||Ducati||2'04.673||1.932 / 0.012|
|11||29||Andrea IANNONE||Suzuki||2'05.741||3.000 / 1.068|
|12||43||Jack MILLER||Honda||2'05.970||3.229 / 0.229|
|13||9||Danilo PETRUCCI||Ducati||2'05.221||0.783 / 0.573|
|14||76||Loris BAZ||Ducati||2'05.231||0.793 / 0.010|
|15||8||Hector BARBERA||Ducati||2'05.541||1.103 / 0.310|
|16||53||Tito RABAT||Honda||2'05.920||1.482 / 0.379|
|17||17||Karel ABRAHAM||Ducati||2'05.931||1.493 / 0.011|
|18||38||Bradley SMITH||KTM||2'06.258||1.820 / 0.327|
|19||19||Alvaro BAUTISTA||Ducati||2'06.295||1.857 / 0.037|
|20||22||Sam LOWES||Aprilia||2'07.232||2.794 / 0.937|
|20||44||Pol ESPARGARO||KTM||2'07.601||3.163 / 0.369|