Marquez tops tight qualifying for pole position in Austria

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Marc Marquez Austrian GP practice 2018
Credit: Repsol Honda

Marc Marquez has snatched pole position away from the Ducatis in a tight qualifying session at the Red Bull Ring. Factory Ducati riders Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo finished second and third respectively, with Dovizioso just 2 thousandths of a second behind Marquez. The weekend so far suffered from rain affected sessions in Free Practice 2 and Free Practice 3, but by the time qualifying came around the conditions were dry. The forecast remains dry for the race tomorrow, although weather is generally unpredictable at the track due to the surrounding mountains.

Valentino Rossi suffered a disastrous qualifying, unable to make it out of Q1 and finishing in fourteenth position. He suffered a mechanical failure in Free Practice 1 and couldn’t set a faster time in Free Practice 2 or Free Practice 3 due to the wet conditions, hence he ended up in Q1. Despite finishing twelfth in Free Practice 4, Rossi was bettered by Alvaro Bautista, Alex Rins and Bradley Smith in the qualifying session and will start the race from the fifth row.

Jack Miller also struggled in Q1 despite the track generally suiting the Ducati. Whilst his teammate Danilo Petrucci has been strong all weekend and was straight through to Q2, finishing in fourth overall, Miller finished Q1 in seventeenth. Petrucci does have the ’18 spec bike whilst Miller has the ’17 spec, but on several occasions this year Miller has been impressive on the Ducati since moving from Marc VDS Honda.

For a while in Q2 it seemed Lorenzo was the closest challenger to Marquez, with the two of them exchanging pole position. Dovizioso was further down the field at the start of the session but put in a lap of 1:23.243 to split his teammate and Marquez. Lorenzo was then unable to improve his time despite going faster in the first and second sectors, with the third sector where Marquez was gaining time. However, Marquez was on pole position in Austria last year when Dovizioso went on to win the race, so we could still see a Ducati victory tomorrow.

Despite fairing slightly better than his teammate after managing to get into Q2 from combined practice times, Maverick Viñales finished down in eleventh. The weekend looks miserable for Yamaha following lots of discussion of tensions in the garage and the confirmation that Vinales will part with his crew chief for 2019. The track is one of the weakest on the calendar for Yamaha but Johann Zarco managed to qualify in 6th, so the factory riders will definitely be hoping for a better Sunday.

2018 eyetime Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich (qualifying):

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