Marc Marquez Wins Pole Position For Round 10 Of The MotoGP World Championship

Fellow front-row starter Valentino Rossi says the top seven qualifiers can fight for the podium at Brno.

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“The test we did here was useful,” said Marc Marquez. “I felt good already with the first tire, even if I nearly crashed as I was pushing very hard. I tried to ride smoothly but still brake hard. With the second tire, I gave it all I had and we got this pole.”Repsol Honda

MotoGP points leader Marc Marquez won pole position for Sunday's 22-lap Grand Prix of the Czech Republic. The 24-year-old defending world champion will be joined on the front row by Movistar Yamaha's Valentino Rossi and Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa.

At the beginning of the 15-minute session, TV cameras followed Marquez, who, almost on cue, produced another miracle save. Entering Turn 3, he lost traction at the front but righted his Honda by pressing his left elbow and knee into the tarmac—business as usual.

Czech Grand Prix Qualifying Results 1. Marc MARQUEZ (93), Repsol Honda Team HONDA 2. Valentino ROSSI (46) Movistar Yamaha MotoGP YAMAHA 3. Dani PEDROSA (26) Repsol Honda Team HONDA 4. Andrea DOVIZIOSO (4) Ducati Team DUCATI 5. Cal CRUTCHLOW (35) LCR Honda HONDA 6. Jorge LORENZO (99) Ducati Team DUCATI 7. Maverick VIÑALES (25) Movistar Yamaha MotoGP YAMAHA 8. Danilo PETRUCCI (9) OCTO Pramac Racing DUCATI 9. Alvaro BAUTISTA (19) Pull&Bear Aspar Team DUCATI 10. Johann ZARCO (5) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YAMAHA 11. Aleix ESPARGARO (41) Aprilia Racing Team Gresini APRILIA 12. Loris BAZ (76) Reale Avintia Racing DUCATI 13. Alex RINS (42) Team Suzuki Ecstar SUZUKI 14. Jonas FOLGER (94) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YAMAHA 15. Jack MILLER (43) Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS HONDA 16. Hector BARBERA (8) Reale Avintia Racing DUCATI 17. Karel ABRAHAM (17) Pull&Bear Aspar Team DUCATI 18. Pol ESPARGARO (44) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 19. Bradley SMITH (38) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 20. Andrea IANNONE (29) Team Suzuki Ecstar SUZUKI 21. Tito RABAT (53) Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS HONDA 22. Sam LOWES (22) Aprilia Racing Team Gresini APRILIA 23. Scott REDDING (45) Octo Pramac Racing DUCATI

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“To try to start on the front row was my target,” said Valentino Rossi. “Already I saw this morning with the softer tire I was fast. We improved a bit the balance of the bike, and in the qualifying I did a good lap. It will be a hard battle because the Hondas have a bit more pace.”Yamaha Racing

With 10 minutes remaining, Pedrosa—a two-time premier-class winner at Brno—was on top, followed by Cal Crutchlow, Rossi, Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), and Alvaro Bautista (Pull&Bear Aspar Ducati).

Tucked behind Ducati’s radical new fairing, Jorge Lorenzo leapt to second, 0.4 behind Pedrosa, but he was quickly displaced by Marquez, having saved another slide. Moments later, however, Lorenzo’s 1:55.775 was canceled for exceeding the track limit in Turn 14.

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“We have to wait and see what the weather will be like, as that will be a key for the race along with the tire choice,” said Dani Pedrosa. “It should be cooler, so we must be very to the point with the tire choice and be ready for whatever situation we have to deal with.”Repsol Honda
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“Despite the fact that they canceled my first time, we did a good qualifying session,” said Jorge Lorenzo. “On my second run, I couldn’t risk as much as I would have liked while trying to go for an even quicker time. The most important thing is that we have a good race pace.”Ducati Team

Lorenzo roared out of pit lane with less than six minutes on the clock. At that point, the top five were Pedrosa, Marquez, Crutchlow, Rossi, and Danilo Petrucci. Quickest in the first sector, and a personal best in the second, third, and fourth put Lorenzo in third.

Having also pitted for new rubber, Marquez, Crutchlow, and Rossi were flying. Crutchlow shoved Lorenzo on to Row 2, but Marquez provided the real fireworks, becoming the first rider this weekend to dip under the 1:55 mark with a 1:54.981.

Rossi crossed start/finish in 1:55.073—0.092 seconds slower than Marquez—putting the 38-year-old Italian solidly in second. Fellow title contender Andrea Dovizioso jumped from 10th to fourth, demoting Crutchlow and Lorenzo to fifth and sixth, respectively.

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“The track is very difficult but we’ve managed to work well, making progress session after session,” said Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso. “We did quite a lot of laps with used tires in FP4 in the afternoon to try and get ready for the race, and our pace was not bad at all.”Ducati Team

Top independent-team qualifier, albeit on a factory Honda, Crutchlow had injured his back in in a big crash during morning practice caused by oil dropped by Bautista’s Ducati. Initial X-rays were inconclusive and Crutchlow replicated his sixth place in FP3 again in FP4.

According to his LCR Honda team, Crutchlow headed straight for the hospital after qualifying for a definitive conclusion on his injury. A scan revealed no fractures, meaning last year’s Brno race winner will suit up on Sunday.

“I didn’t feel anything too bad when I was riding,” Crutchlow admitted. “Of course, I had some pain, but as we know it was an unfortunate situation as Marc and I were the next two along when there was something on the track.” Crutchlow said he crashed at 90-plus mph.

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“I feel good, in fact I’ve felt great all weekend so far,” said Cal Crutchlow. “Yesterday we had some problems with the setup, but I felt we just needed to work in a different area and today I thought we did a really good job.”LCR Honda

Early season points leader Maverick Vinales, Petrucci, Bautista, and Zarco rounded out the top 10. Espargaro crashed, ending the day in 11th. Baz completed the fourth row of the grid—five Ducatis, three Hondas, three Yamahas, and one Aprilia.

On Thursday, Vinales said, “We have to improve especially when the conditions are not the best. When we have mixed conditions or rain conditions, we have to improve, and it’s something we have to do quite fast. We have a lot of work.”

Does a rough track that turns to grease when hot qualify as mixed conditions? At the end of qualifying, Vinales walked to the back of his pit box and sat down all alone. He didn't take off his helmet or gloves. He just sat there.

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“It was very difficult in qualifying because we didn’t find a good setup and I couldn’t make the bike turn the way I wanted it to,” said Maverick Vinales. “We still have time to check the information we collected today and try to prepare a different setup for tomorrow’s warm up.”Yamaha Racing

Asked where on the track he missed out on pole, Dani Pedrosa said, “Most probably [Sector 2]. It’s where I was not that strong because I have one corner where I am struggling a little bit. But, overall, I am very happy with the qualifying.

“Normally, [qualifying] is always a point where I struggle. To be only two-tenths off Marc is incredible. He’s riding very well, so tomorrow, for sure, he’s the favorite. We are also on a good pace. Now, we have to watch for the weather and try to be ready for the race.”

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Danilo Petrucci, Octo Pramac RacingOcto Pramac Racing
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Alvaro Bautista, PULL&BEAR Aspar Team DucatiAspar Team

Despite Pedrosa’s complaint about his performance in Sector 2, the 31-year-old Spaniard notably was in the top three in all four partial splits—first, third, second, and third. Neither Marquez (two) nor Rossi (three) was as consistent.

In his second run, Rossi cut nearly a second from his previous best lap time. “I tried to brake later and open the throttle earlier,” he joked in parc ferme. “No, I feel good already in the first exit. The first lap is always a bit difficult, but I knew I had good potential.

“In the second lap, I was in the right position; I had free track in front. I was able to push without making mistakes. It’s a shame for the pole because we are close. But second is a very good result and a good place, starting from the front row, for the race tomorrow.”

Marquez has topped three of this weekend’s five sessions and now has 41 career premier-class pole positions. “In qualifying, you always push on the limit,” he said. “Sometimes it is difficult with a new tire because the brake point and the reference change a little bit.

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Johann Zarco, Monster Yamaha Tech 3Yamaha Tech 3
Marc Marquez
Marc Marquez, Repsol HondaRepsol Honda

“I struggled with the first tire. But even like this, the lap time was not so bad. On the second tire, I pushed. I was able to improve in a few points. I’m happy because here in Brno normally I am struggling a lot.”

Marquez earned pole position earlier this season at Termas de Rio Hondo, Circuit of The Americas, and, prior to the summer break, at the Sachsenring. He crashed while leading in Argentina but won both races in America and Germany.

Rain is forecast overnight and throughout the morning hours. “Of course, weather will be another question mark,” Marquez said. “But the most important thing is that on wet I felt good and on dry I felt good. We are ready to fight for a good place in both conditions.”