2018 Austria MotoGP Qualifying Result: The Magnificent Three

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.


Pos. Num. Rider Bike Time Gap 1st Prev.
1 93 Marc MARQUEZ Honda 1'23.241    
2 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati 1'23.243 0.002 0.002
3 99 Jorge LORENZO Ducati 1'23.376 0.135 0.133
4 9 Danilo PETRUCCI Ducati 1'23.503 0.262 0.127
5 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW Honda 1'23.812 0.571 0.309
6 5 Johann ZARCO Yamaha 1'23.887 0.646 0.075
7 53 Tito RABAT Ducati 1'23.922 0.681 0.035
8 29 Andrea IANNONE Suzuki 1'24.091 0.850 0.169
9 26 Dani PEDROSA Honda 1'24.124 0.883 0.033
10 42 Alex RINS Suzuki 1'24.227 0.986 0.103
11 25 Maverick VIÑALES Yamaha 1'24.284 1.043 0.057
12 19 Alvaro BAUTISTA Ducati 1'24.342 1.101 0.058
    Q1 Results:        
Q2 19 Alvaro BAUTISTA Ducati 1'24.195    
Q2 42 Alex RINS Suzuki 1'24.230 0.035 0.035
13 38 Bradley SMITH KTM 1'24.245 0.050 0.015
14 46 Valentino ROSSI Yamaha 1'24.309 0.114 0.064
15 41 Aleix ESPARGARO Aprilia 1'24.762 0.567 0.453
16 21 Franco MORBIDELLI Honda 1'24.767 0.572 0.005
17 43 Jack MILLER Ducati 1'24.805 0.610 0.038
18 55 Hafizh SYAHRIN Yamaha 1'24.834 0.639 0.029
19 10 Xavier SIMEON Ducati 1'24.868 0.673 0.034
20 45 Scott REDDING Aprilia 1'25.067 0.872 0.199
21 30 Takaaki NAKAGAMI Honda 1'25.178 0.983 0.111
22 12 Thomas LUTHI Honda 1'25.310 1.115 0.132
23 17 Karel ABRAHAM Ducati 1'25.339 1.144 0.029
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The first (very nearly factory spec) satelite Honda is 0.075 ahead of the first satelite (who knows which spec?) Yamaha.

But the first factory Yamaha is 1.043 behind the first factory Honda.

Maybe it's not only the bike...

One possible way to visualize that 0.002 second difference in times is to consider that Dovizioso's racing line around the Red Bull Ring was just 4 inches longer than Marrquez's (IF I calculated this properly - corrections welcomed):

Red Bull Ring is 4318 meters/83.243 Dovi's lap time in seconds x 0.002 second difference = 104mm = 4"