Despite the persistently grey cloud cover, all the talk of rain was forgotten by the time the premier class came out to play catch for grid spots. A mostly dry surface throwing some damp obstacles greeted the gladiators in the battle for pole and the newly crowned world champion rewarded the resilient spectators with another masterful display of dominance in challenging conditions. After a rapid first run and an anticlimactic second run, it was home advantage for Honda, Marc Marquez securing his 90th career pole position, another BMW and finally taking the missing piece in his collection of pole positions on the current calendar. The show for second best came down to friendly fire in the Petronas Yamaha garage, Franco Morbidelli taking a rare win over his much applauded teammate Fabio Quartararo.
Petronas colours sealing the rest of the front row demoted the factory machine of Maverick Viñales to the second row of the grid, where the Spaniard will be joined by Q1 fast man Cal Crutchlow. After an underwhelming Friday, the LCR man found some speed in the tricky conditions provided on Saturday and even looked like a pole hopeful, if only briefly. Jack Miller closes the second row of the grid, half a second off pole.
Andrea Dovizioso kept a low profile on his way to seventh position, a smidgen ahead of teammate Danilo Petrucci and with Aleix Espargaro admirably closing the third row of the grid for Aprilia. Valentino Rossi posted an identical time to the elder Espargaro but had to settle for fourth row, in the company of the two Suzukis of Alex Rins and Joan Mir. Takaaki Nakagami put in an incredible effort to lead throughout Q1 but Rins’ late charge demoted the local favourite, who will start his last race of the season from row five.