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Marc Marquez fought his way through Q1 to secure pole position for MotoGP’s inaugural race in Thailand, beating Valentino Rossi by just a hundredth of a second.
Honda rider Marquez was forced into the first part of qualifying after a crash during Saturday morning’s third practice session left him 11th in the combined classification.
But after making it through Q1 with ease, the Spaniard came out on top in the subsequent 15-minute pole-position shootout at Buriram.
After leading the opening runs on a 1m30.356s, Yamaha’s Rossi briefly returned to the top of the timesheets in front of Marquez with a 1m30.099s with two minutes left on the clock.
But Marquez responded moments later with a 1m30.088s, which was good enough to give him pole by 0.011 seconds – albeit half a tenth slower than the effort he had managed in Q1.
It marks the first time a rider has taken pole in MotoGP having come through Q1.
Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa’s 1m29.781s effort in February testing remains the unofficial fastest lap on a MotoGP bike of the Buriram track.
Behind Rossi, Andrea Dovizioso was third on the sole works Ducati, following the withdrawal of Jorge Lorenzo following his huge crash on Friday.
Dovizioso had looked poised to usurp Marquez on his final lap, but dropped time in the final two sectors and ended up falling short by 0.139s.
Maverick Vinales made it two Yamahas in the top four, missing out on a front row spot by a tenth, followed by Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) and Suzuki’s Andrea Iannone.
Pedrosa was seventh ahead of Johann Zarco (Tech3) and the two Pramac Ducatis of Danilo Petrucci and Jack Miller.
Suzuki’s Alex Rins, who joined Marquez in advancing from Q1, and Nieto Ducati rider Alvaro Bautista completed the order in Q2.
After his FP3 crash, Marquez unsurprisingly dominated the opening segment of qualifying – his time of 1m30.031s put him nine tenths clear of the pack and leaving just one other Q2 spot available.
The battle for that place played out between Suzuki rider Rins and Marc VDS Honda man Franco Morbidelli, who was poised to go through until being beaten by just 0.002s after the chequered flag fell.
Morbidelli therefore starts 13th ahead of fellow Honda satellite rider Takaaki Nakagami and the lead KTM of Bradley Smith.
Aprilia’s challenge was led by Aleix Espargaro in 16th, while younger brother Pol qualified 19th on his return from injury aboard the second KTM.
British Superbike-bound Scott Redding struggling to 13th in Q1 and last place on the grid for Sunday with a time six tenths slower than Aprilia stablemate Espargaro.
|5||Cal Crutchlow||LCR Honda||Honda||1m30.356s||0.268s|
|8||Johann Zarco||Tech3 Yamaha||Yamaha||1m30.471s||0.383s|
|9||Danilo Petrucci||Pramac Ducati||Ducati||1m30.599s||0.511s|
|10||Jack Miller||Pramac Ducati||Ducati||1m30.660s||0.572s|
|12||Alvaro Bautista||Aspar Ducati||Ducati||1m30.976s||0.888s|
|13||Franco Morbidelli||MVDS Honda||Honda||1m30.923s||–|
|14||Takaaki Nakagami||LCR Honda||Honda||1m30.995s||–|
|17||Karel Abraham||Aspar Ducati||Ducati||1m31.374s||–|
|18||Hafizh Syahrin||Tech3 Yamaha||Yamaha||1m31.389s||–|
|20||Xavier Simeon||Avintia Ducati||Ducati||1m31.686s||–|
|21||Jordi Torres||Avintia Ducati||Ducati||1m31.819s||–|
|22||Thomas Luthi||MVDS Honda||Honda||1m31.830s||–|