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.|
|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)