Rossi Beats Marquez to Motegi Pole Position

Valentino Rossi made the perfect start to a must-win weekend by claiming pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi. The Italian trails championship leader Marc Marquez by 52 points but put himself in position to close the gap after denying the Spaniard in a late shootout between the two in qualifying.

In a weekend blighted by heavy crashes, Free Practice 3 brought another as Jorge Lorenzo suffered the latest in a succession of dramatic high-sides. The reigning champion lost control of his Yamaha on the exit of turn two, leading to a horrible landing after his YZR-M1 had sent him skywards. Despite initially being stretchered away, Lorenzo returned to the circuit in time for qualifying and played his part in a gripping session.

Marquez looked to be the only realistic contender for pole early on, dropping straight into the low 1:44s to move a second clear of the opposition but the Yamahas eventually got up to speed on their second timed laps, Lorenzo closing to within a quarter of a second of his compatriot.

Rossi trailed by six tenths in third as he returned to the pits but the second runs saw everything change as the Italian led Marquez on track. ‘The Doctor’ delivered a sensational lap to clock the first sub-1:44 time of the weekend and with Marquez outbraking himself into the downhill turn eleven, the pendulum had swung Rossi’s way. Marc still had time for one last effort and was on course to regain top spot through the first sector but another error at turn five, a corner which had caught out Cal Crutchlow moments earlier, put paid to his challenge.

Lorenzo improved on his last run but couldn’t climb higher than third while Andrea Dovizioso took advantage of Crutchlow’s crash to snatch fourth from the Briton. Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Vinales line up sixth and seventh for Suzuki while Hector Barbera starts eighth on his factory Ducati debut.

Pol Espargaro completes the third row ahead of Pramac pair Danilo Petrucci and Scott Redding while Alvaro Bautista took Aprilia into Q2 for the third race running, earning the last spot on row four. Bradley Smith starts fifteenth on his return from injury while Hiroshi Aoyama, in for the injured Dani Pedrosa, brings up the rear.


2016 Motul Grand Prix of Japan (Qualifying Classification)

PosRiderConstructorTeamBest Time 
146. Valentino ROSSIYamahaMovistar Yamaha MotoGP1:43.954Q2
293. Marc MARQUEZHondaRepsol Honda Team1:44.134Q2
399. Jorge LORENZOYamahaMovistar Yamaha MotoGP1:44.221Q2
44. Andrea DOVIZIOSODucatiDucati Team1:44.294Q2
535. Cal CRUTCHLOWHondaLCR Honda1:44.402Q2
641. Aleix ESPARGAROSuzukiTeam SUZUKI ECSTAR1:44.494Q2
725. Maverick VINALESSuzukiTeam SUZUKI ECSTAR1:44.539Q2
88. Hector BARBERADucatiDucati Team1:44.980Q2
944. Pol ESPARGAROYamahaMonster Yamaha Tech 31:45.232Q2
109. Danilo PETRUCCIDucatiOcto Pramac Yakhnich1:45.782Q2
1145. Scott REDDINGDucatiOcto Pramac Yakhnich1:45.827Q2
1219. Alvaro BAUTISTAApriliaAprilia Racing Team GresiniNo TimeQ2
136. Stefan BRADLApriliaAprilia Racing Team Gresini1:45.823Q1
1473. Jack MILLERHondaEG 0,0 Marc VDS1:46.347Q1
1538. Bradley SMITHYamahaMonster Yamaha Tech 31:46.593Q1
1621. Katsuyuki NAKASUGAYamahaYamalube Yamaha Factory Racing1:46.627Q1
1768. Yonny HERNANDEZDucatiPull & Bear Aspar Ducati Team1:46.705Q1
1853. Tito RABATHondaEG 0,0 Marc VDS1:46.753Q1
1950. Eugene LAVERTYDucatiPull & Bear Aspar Ducati Team1:47.060Q1
2076. Loris BAZDucatiAvintia Racing1:47.501Q1
217. Mike JONESDucatiAvintia Racing1:47.631Q1
2273. Hiroshi AOYAMAHondaRepsol Honda Team1:47.788Q1