Marc Marquez saw off the unexpected threat of Ducati duo Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone to claim pole position for the Czech Republic Grand Prix at Brno. The world champion was expected to face competition from his teammate and the Movistar Yamahas but despite none of them qualifying inside the top four, Marc didn’t have things all his own way.
Valentino Rossi was among those contenders and he looked to have cemented his status as a favourite for pole position by going fastest in FP4 but a heavy crash threatened to take him out the equation altogether. The Italian lost the front end of his Yamaha at high speed and was followed through the gravel trap by Alvaro Bautista’s Honda but escaped with a finger injury.
Marquez immediately threw down the gauntlet in Qualifying 2 by clocking a 1:55.760, half a second quicker than Jorge Lorenzo’s early benchmark, but the second runs saw the Ducatis come to the fore. Iannone was the first to light up the timing screens and the Italian had more than a helping hand from Marquez himself, who unwittingly towed the no.29 around to a 1:55.726.
After handing his pole position across to Iannone, Marc came up with an instant response by setting a 1:55.585 while Andrea Dovizioso proved the GP14 was quick enough without a slipstream by snatching second spot. Bradley Smith produced a sensational last ditch effort to grab fourth, just four thousandths off the front row, with pre-session favourites Dani Pedrosa, Jorge Lorenzo, and Valentino Rossi down in fifth, sixth and seventh respectively.
Stefan Bradl took eighth despite having to come through Q1 while the Espargaro brothers rounded out the top ten, Pol pipping Aleix. Cal Crutchlow will line up eleventh but fellow Britons Scott Redding, Leon Camier and Michael Laverty were unable to reach the second session.