Newly crowned world champion Marc Marquez’s gamble on using slick tyres paid off when he stormed to pole position for this weekend’s Australian MotoGP at Phillip Island on Saturday.
The 23-year-old Spaniard, on a Repsol Honda, clocked the fastest lap of one minute 30.189 seconds amid threatening rain to start on the inside of the grid for Sunday’s race.
It was Marquez’s 37th MotoGP pole as he vies for his 30th career premier class win at Phillip Island.
British Honda rider Cal Crutchlow was second ahead of Spain’s Monster Yamaha racer Pol Espargaro and both will start off the front row in Sunday’s race.
The two-part qualifying session played out under the threat of heavy rain but Marquez, who clinched his third MotoGP world title last weekend in Japan, took the risk and ran with slick tyres on the dry track surface.
His gamble paid off when he reeled off four fastest lap times before finishing 0.792seconds ahead of Crutchlow at the end of Q2.
“It was a little bit difficult because there was some rain coming off the sea and you could see the heavy rain was coming,” Marquez said.
“I thought I would take the risk because the track was completely dry and then I did some pretty fast laps and right at the end the tyre started to spin too much.
“I am very happy with the pole position and we will see tomorrow if the track is dry because nobody knows yet about the tyres and how we are going to manage the race.”
Marquez rode one of his greatest races to pip Jorge Lorenzo by just 0.249 seconds in last year’s Phillip Island race and his Repsol Honda bike looks superior to the others this weekend.
Crutchlow, who topped the Q1 session to advance into the second qualifying session along with Lorenzo, ran with intermediate tyres and was always in the top three in the final session.
Lorenzo could only finish 12th in Q2, some 6.6 seconds behind Marquez, while his Movistar team-mate and nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi failed to make it into the final qualifying session and will start 15th on the grid for Sunday’s race.