Maverick Vinales will start the Grand Prix of the Americas from pole position after Marc Marquez became embroiled in more controversy in Texas. The world champion had initially claimed his sixth straight pole at the venue in a thrilling end to qualifying but he was later handed a three-place grid penalty for baulking Vinales on a flying lap, demoting him to fourth.
Looking to maintain his undefeated record in both qualifying and the race at COTA, Marquez began the session as the overwhelming favourite for pole and looked well placed after setting a 2:04.134. However, a crash at turn 13 saw the Spaniard forced to make a hasty retreat to his Repsol Honda garage on his spare machine to defend top spot.
Once Marc returned to the track for the second run, the controversy began as Vinales, who was halfway through a potential pole lap, caught his compatriot in the fourth sector with Marquez coasting on the racing line. The Yamaha man was visibly annoyed as he backed out of the lap but to his credit, bounced back next time around to clock a 2:04.064.
Marquez was circulating close behind and immediately regained top spot, breaking into the 2:03s, but the post-session penalty would render his blistering lap irrelevant. Friday pacesetter Andrea Iannone starts second ahead of Tech 3’s Johann Zarco while Marquez will have arch-rival Valentino Rossi alongside in fifth.
Jorge Lorenzo completes a heavyweight second row in sixth ahead of championship leader Cal Crutchlow with Andrea Dovizioso, second in the championship, also deep on the grid in eighth. Dani Pedrosa overcame wrist pain to qualify ninth with Danilo Petrucci completing the top ten after advancing from Q1.
2018 Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas: (Grid Line-Up)
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