Having splashed about for much of their practice time, the premier class headed into the qualifying session with some question marks over their one lap performance in dry conditions. Marc Marquez got an answer straight out the gate, the Spaniard posting the best time of the weekend and immediately improving it to go half a second faster than his challengers.
Andrea Dovizioso hunted him down to the final three hundredths of a second but that minuscule gap was enough to keep the world champion ahead after the first run. While Dovizioso was retreating to the pits and Marquez was already swapping to new rubber, Jorge Lorenzo crashed the party to snatch provisional pole by less than a tenth of a second.
Before the Ducati man got too comfortable at the top of the world, Marquez was back out to reclaim his spotlight. And so he did, with a fair few scares in the process. Ultimately, it all came down to one final flying lap where the magnificent trio of Brno – Marquez, Lorenzo and Dovizioso – were duking it out for pole. Dovizioso’s best wasn’t enough by a painful two thousandths of a second and the reigning world champion got closer to a new BMW through career pole number 77. The same parc fermé configuration from last Sunday repeated itself in a different order, with Dovizioso second and Lorenzo third, another tenth down and with some question marks left over how much of that gap he could have recovered had he swapped to a new front tyre for his final run.
The rest of the grid barely had a say in the fight for pole, Danilo Petrucci adding another Ducati to row two, ahead of Cal Crutchlow’s Honda and Johann Zarco’s Yamaha. Tito Rabat heads third row of the grid in Ducati Land, nearly two tenths of a second faster than the Suzuki of Andrea Iannone and Honda veteran Dani Pedrosa.
Alex Rins was second best in Q1 and tenth best in Q2, showing the way on row four to Maverick Viñales and Q1 top man and blue hair aficionado Alvaro Bautista. Bradley Smith unluckily missed out on Q2 by one hundredth of a second but the pressure was all on Valentino Rossi in that session. The Italian had to rely on one last lap to gain entry in Q2 but Bautista, Rins and Smith were all faster so the Yamaha veteran will need another miracle start from 14th grid position.