Even with four wins in 2015, it hasn't been the easiest year for Marc Marquez. Mistakes, crashes and injuries have conspired to take him out of the championship race. But they have not taken him out of championship influence. Marquez seized pole position Saturday at the Phillip Island circuit and in doing so, made the championship fight between Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi that much more interesting.
Marquez's 1'28.364 put him three-tenths of a second in front of Andrea Iannone (2nd) and an unhappy Jorge Lorenzo (3rd) who completed the front row. Lorenzo was shooting for second place and was on a fast lap at the end of the 15-minute session when Iannone jumped on his tail and used the tow to set a nearly identical time but landing the Italian in second.
Dani Pedrosa used an end-of-session burst to leap into fourth just in front of Cal Crutchlow (5th). Maverick Vinales, fast in every session, completed the second row in sixth.
Valentino Rossi, who leads the championship by 18 points, was pushed down to the third row during the late-session runs by Crutchlow, Pedrosa and Iannone. To keep contender Jorge Lorenzo at bay, Rossi must finish in front of or near the Spaniard to maintain a margin during the final three rounds -- a task made a bit more difficult with his third-row grid position Saturday. But note: Rossi, a six-time Phillip Island winner, finished first in last year's Australia race after qualifying eighth.
Aleix Espargaro took advantage of his advancement from Q1 to take eighth, followed by his brother Pol (who also advanced from Q1). Andrea Dovizioso completed the top 10.
|Pos.||No.||Rider||Bike||Time||Diff. / Prev.|
|2||29||Andrea IANNONE||Ducati||1'28.680||0.316 / 0.316|
|4||26||Dani PEDROSA||Honda||1'28.712||0.348 / 0.032|
|5||35||Cal CRUTCHLOW||Honda||1'28.912||0.548 / 0.200|
|6||25||Maverick VIÑALES||Suzuki||1'28.932||0.568 / 0.020|
|7||46||Valentino ROSSI||Yamaha||1'29.014||0.650 / 0.082|
|8||41||*Aleix ESPARGARO||Suzuki||1'29.015||0.651 / 0.001|
|9||44||*Pol ESPARGARO||Yamaha||1'29.222||0.858 / 0.207|
|10||4||Andrea DOVIZIOSO||Ducati||1'29.267||0.903 / 0.045|
|11||45||Scott REDDING||Honda||1'29.499||1.135 / 0.232|
|12||38||Bradley SMITH||Yamaha||1'29.626||1.262 / 0.127|
|13||9||Danilo PETRUCCI||Ducati||1'29.918||0.271 / 0.221|
|14||8||Hector BARBERA||Ducati||1'30.064||0.417 / 0.146|
|15||43||Jack MILLER||Honda||1'30.104||0.457 / 0.040|
|16||50||Eugene LAVERTY||Honda||1'30.105||0.458 / 0.001|
|17||68||Yonny HERNANDEZ||Ducati||1'30.135||0.488 / 0.030|
|18||19||Alvaro BAUTISTA||Aprilia||1'30.147||0.500 / 0.012|
|19||76||Loris BAZ||Yamaha Forward||1'30.173||0.526 / 0.026|
|20||69||Nicky HAYDEN||Honda||1'30.376||0.729 / 0.203|
|21||6||Stefan BRADL||Aprilia||1'30.634||0.987 / 0.258|
|22||63||Mike DI MEGLIO||Ducati||1'30.959||1.312 / 0.325|
|23||13||Anthony WEST||Honda||1'31.205||1.558 / 0.246|
|24||24||Toni ELIAS||Yamaha Forward||1'31.837||2.190 / 0.632|
|25||55||Damian CUDLIN||ART||1'33.884||4.237 / 2.047|
* advanced from Q1