2016 Phillip Island MotoGP QP: In Slickness And In Health

Marc Marquez used timely pit strategy and a potentially risky pair of slicks under darkening skies to claim pole position at the Phillip Island circuit Saturday. The World Champion, who entered Q2 on intermediate tires, pitted early when the racing line began to dry and changed to full slicks, hoping to beat the rain that was predicted for the middle of the session.

But the rain never made good on its threat.  And Marquez immediately pulled away from the field, forcing other riders to follow suit and change tires.  Cal Crutchlow kept the intermediate tire on the front but switched to a full slick in the rear to grab the second spot on the grid but nearly eight-tenths down from pole. Pol Espargaro, who made a late switch to front-and-rear slicks, took third. 

Aleix Espargaro (4th) was relegated to the second row by his brother Pol. And Jack Miller just lost out on a first-row start in front of his home crowd when he was pushed to fifth at the end of the session. Danilo Petrucci used his final lap to jump into sixth. The third row begins with a surprise in the lead spot: Nicky Hayden, the former Repsol Honda factory rider and 2006 World Champion, made the most of his replacement stint for an injured Dani Pedrosa to grab seventh on the grid. 

Stefan Bradl continued Aprilia's strong showing of late to take eighth, shadowed by Andrea Dovizioso (9th). Hector Barbara completed the top 10. 

And whither the factory Yamahas of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo? Apparently Yamaha's Motegi misfortune continued down under. The teammates -- who like many of the top riders were caught out in the varying conditions of FP1 and FP2 -- began their qualifying in Q1, the first time both Yamaha factory riders started the initial qualifying session together.

Rossi, seeing the drying line, pitted late to switch to an intermediate rear. But the switch proved too late and Rossi never got the new rear warm enough to put in a fast lap before the session ended. He qualified 15th, his worst qualifying in years. 

And while Lorenzo and Cal Crutchlow managed to climb out of Q1 and into Q2,  the Spaniard never found confidence on either the intermediate tires he began the session with or the slicks he used at the end. Lorenzo finished his session at the back of the pack in Q1, nearly seven seconds from Marquez's pole. 


Pos. No. Rider Bike Time Diff. / Prev.  
1 93 Marc MARQUEZ Honda 1'30.189    
2 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW Honda 1'30.981 0.792 / 0.792
3 44 Pol ESPARGARO Yamaha 1'31.107 0.918 / 0.126
4 41 Aleix ESPARGARO Suzuki 1'31.673 1.484 / 0.566
5 43 Jack MILLER Honda 1'31.754 1.565 / 0.081
6 9 Danilo PETRUCCI Ducati 1'32.420 2.231 / 0.666
7 69 Nicky HAYDEN Honda 1'32.944 2.755 / 0.524
8 6 Stefan BRADL Aprilia 1'33.015 2.826 / 0.071
9 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati 1'33.090 2.901 / 0.075
10 8 Hector BARBERA Ducati 1'33.914 3.725 / 0.824
11 45 Scott REDDING Ducati 1'34.682 4.493 / 0.768
12 99 Jorge LORENZO Yamaha 1'36.840 6.651 / 2.158
13 25 Maverick VIÑALES Suzuki 1'40.744 2.277 / 0.292
14 38 Bradley SMITH Yamaha 1'41.129 2.662 / 0.385
15 46 Valentino ROSSI Yamaha 1'41.368 2.901 / 0.239
16 50 Eugene LAVERTY Ducati 1'41.532 3.065 / 0.164
17 68 Yonny HERNANDEZ Ducati 1'41.766 3.299 / 0.234
18 19 Alvaro BAUTISTA Aprilia 1'41.850 3.383 / 0.084
19 7 Mike JONES Ducati 1'42.261 3.794 / 0.411
20 76 Loris BAZ Ducati 1'43.128 4.661 / 0.867
21 53 Tito RABAT Honda 1'44.096 5.629 / 0.968

(Riders in bold advanced to Q2)

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YES, qualifying was a turkey shoot because of the weather. But Mike Jones, less than 1 second benihd Rossi ( the 9-time World Champion, to remind people who may forget that) , on his second ride in motoGp?


Anybody else get the impression that since Marquez wrapped up the championship early and the weather conditions were so dicey,  Lorenzo and Rossi are in the "just get to the end of the season without injury"  mode?

Whatever,  Hayden being back and performing well put a smile on my face.    

Marquez is unbelievable... to think that Spanish racing went from it's first champion just 17 years ago to this kind of dominance is amazing.   Maybe Marquez will end up being the absolute pinnacle of Spanish racing given his absolutely jaw-dropping talent and his ability to adapt very quickly.    Riders just weren't supposed to be able to abuse the Michelin front the way he has done this year.

What more can you say other than... come on Vinales!