Alex Marquez claimed his second career pole position at Brno after an expertly timed lap following a red flag period. After an early crash, the Spaniard crucially kept his head in a frantic end to the session where others, not least championship leader Jack Miller, lost theirs and will head an unfamiliar front row alongside Isaac Vinales and Niccolo Antonelli.
Marquez’s session couldn’t have got off to a worse start with a strange incident at turn nine where the Estrella Galicia rider appeared to get squeezed off the track by a gaggle of riders including John McPhee and took an unceremonious tumble through the gravel.
Alexis Masbou steered clear of such difficulties to set the early pace on a 2:08.283 and the Frenchman must have thoughts his prayers had been answered when the rain flags appeared, indicating the arrival of a rain shower, but the drizzle was short and sharp, forcing Alexis to defend provisional pole for himself.
With ten minutes remaining, Masbou was still in possession but his rivals were given a chance to regroup by a red flag, thrown due to an accident involving Philipp Oettl whose Kalex punctured the air fence. Once the barriers had been fixed, Marquez got straight down to business and snatched pole on a 2:07.691.
Jack Miller cut a frustrated figure throughout the session with traffic proving the source of his anger. The Australian’s temper boiled over late on, aiming a punch at Sky Racing VR46’s Francesco Bagnaia, and his mood wouldn’t be helped by the late improvements of others. Vinales and Antonelli were the surprise names at the top of the leaderboard with the pair claiming the two remaining spots on the front row while Alex Rins and Miguel Oliveira also found time, knocking Miller down to sixth.
Miller could find consolation from the fact his nearest championship rival Efren Vazquez crashed late on, keeping him behind Masbou in eighth, while another of his rivals starts even further back with Romano Fenati only tenth.