Marquez nabs pole as Dovi labours to 11th

 MotoGP leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) will head the front row in Sunday’s MotoGP race at the Michelin® Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix 2017, 10 spots and three rows ahead of title rival Andrea Dovizioso (Team Ducati).

It’s the seventh time Marc Marquez will start from pole position this season, his pole-setting lap of 1m28.386s over 0.3 seconds clear of Movistar Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales (1:28.719). Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rookie Johann Zarco (1:28.744) will complete the front row.

“I’m happy with the pace,” Marquez said. “[I’m] happy with my rhythm, so tomorrow we will just have to wait and see with the weather.”

Vinales said: “We’ve had a difficult weekend with the tyres and the weather, [but] we’re trying our best. Tomorrow we still have to improve a lot.”

Zarco said an improved feeling with a dry setup was the key to his 1:28.744 lap, in what will be his second consecutive front row start.

“Why not fight for the podium if I can, because 27 laps is quite long,” he smiled.

Team Ecstar Suzuki rider Andrea Iannone got a tow from Marquez in the early part of the session to help him secure fourth place on the grid with a 1:28.937, just ahead of Aussie Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia Marc VDS Honda, 1:28.964).

It will be the 22-year old Australian rider’s best starting position since the championship’s fourth round at Jerez.

Red Bull KTM’s Pol Espargaro (1:29.030) is celebrating his best-ever qualifying result on the Austrian machine, too, as he completes the second row for tomorrow’s premier class race.

Movistar Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi (1:29.203) heads the third row in seventh, alongside Team Gresini Racing Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro (1:29.271) and the rapidly improving Bradley Smith (Red Bull KTM, 1:29.321).

Rossi and Smith both made their way through to Q2 after claiming the top two spots in Q1.

Last year’s winner Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda, 1:29.429) was 10th after a crash towards the end of the session, and Dovizioso’s 11th place (1:29.496) represents his worst qualifying position in 13 rounds.

Dovizioso is 11 points behind Marquez with three races – and a maximum 75 points – still up for grabs.

Aussie Broc Parkes qualified in 21st place and on the outside of row seven, his 1:30.889 lap on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine better than both GP veteran Alvaro Bautista (Pull & Bear Aspar Ducati) and Briton Sam Lowes (Team Gresini Racing Aprilia).

The MotoGP riders will be out on track for their warm-up session at 11.40am Sunday morning before their 27-lap race gets underway at 4:00pm.

Tickets for the Michelin® Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix 2017 are still available. Book now to experiece the fastest men on two-wheels battle it out at The Island.

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