The opening act for the final showdown for the title took place under brilliant sun and the basic plot was a Marquez classic. Marc Marquez shot into the lead on his first flying lap and posted the weekend’s first 1:29 time the second time around. With the challenge set, his rivals were left with half a second to find and Jorge Lorenzo looked like the main challenger before tumbling through the gravel trap at turn 13 on only his second flying lap.
Marquez copied the feat and crashed out on his second outing into turn 4, leaving the challengers to sort it out amongst themselves. Johann Zarco gave his best and it gained him a second place on the grid, three tenths down on the world champion. As Marquez sealed pole position, one small niggle to his ideal starting position would be sharing the front row with not only Zarco but also feisty Andrea Iannone, who dragged his Suzuki to the spotlight into third.
Lorenzo could not improve the time on his second bike and had to settle for fourth, sharing second row of the grid with pal Dani Pedrosa and even better pal Michele Pirro, giving Ducati some options in aiding their title bid.
Valentino Rossi was left almost a second adrift of his leading nemesis and into seventh position, ahead of Aleix Espargaro, who had an eventful half an hour after going through Q1 and crashing out once again in Q2. The third row of the grid will be shared with Andrea Dovizioso, who will need to conjure all his starting skills to challenge for the much needed win on Sunday – still, it could have been worse as the Italian was eleventh after the first run.
Alex Rins added a tenth place to his qualifying record and will theoretically share fourth row with Q1 survivor Pol Espargaro and Jack Miller, although the KTM’s engine penalty means that Espargaro will actually start from pitlane.
Maverick Viñales felt brave enough to attempt to get through Q1 on the medium rear and after some off track excursions and head shakes, the Spaniard put some softs on and had another try. Too little too late as Viñales only managed to climb up to thirteenth grid position.
|5||60||Michael VAN DER MARK||Yamaha||1'32.504||1.611||0.688|