Marc Marquez

MotoGP – Marquez untouchable at COTA

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It’s closer than ever as the flag falls at the end of the Americas GP, with Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez taking the win and Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso taking the Championship lead.

The Americas GP also made it back-to-back podium finishes for Suzuki, with Andrea Iannone putting in an impressive push from the front row to take third and his first rostrum finish of the season – and first rostrum with the Hamamatsu factory.

It was also Iannone who got the holeshot from second on the grid, but Marquez also got a flyer from Row 2 – slotting into second and on the chase behind the ‘Maniac’. Making his move soon after and taking the lead, #93 started to pull a gap – but Iannone wasn’t done, and gave it everything for a late dive up the inside of the reigning champion. Running a bit wide on the exit, Marquez took him back – then quickly started to build a gap.

From there on out, the spectacular ballet of man and machine once more ruled the rodeo in Texas – with the victory making it ten consecutive premier class wins for Marquez on US soil.

Marquez said: “This weekend I really gave it my all. Today I was totally focused, as I wanted to remain perfect here at Austin. I don’t think that ever in my career have I had such a race, pushing so hard from the first lap.

“Today I felt that this was the right way and was able to do it, in part because my bike’s setup helped me a lot, so thanks to everyone in my garage as they’ve worked really well and hard. Yesterday I was a bit ill, and even today I didn’t feel I had perfect energy, but it turned out to be a good race anyway – a lonely one, but sometimes it goes like that.

“Last night when I was going to sleep, I thought about the strategy, and today I followed it. Even in the warm-up, I tried to simulate the first laps of the race, going out on new tyres and with a full tank. That was in the plan. I told the team that I wanted to try to lead the race from the beginning and pull a gap. So in the first three or four laps, I pushed a bit more than usual, and then I managed the advantage.

“Today I had special motivation. There was a lot of pressure, but I like the pressure, as it helps to keep focused. I felt a special feeling on the last lap, when I passed in front of Nicky’s flag. So, I’m happy with the result and for recovering ground in the Championship, but now we go back to Europe, where we must be consistent, because look who’s leading the standings: Dovi, the most consistent rider! The feeling with my bike is very good, and the same has been true in Qatar and Argentina, so we’ll try and continue this way.”

Behind, however, it was getting pretty tight. Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi was pressuring teammate Viñales for third as Iannone held firm in second. But lap-by-lap, Viñales was able to ease away and stake his claim on P2 – closing in on Iannone before a well-judged pass into Turn 1 saw the Spaniard able to get through and then pull away. Keeping it calm, he took his first podium of the season in second, and Iannone did the same in third.

Rossi came home fourth, with Dovizioso taking fifth after a particularly difficult weekend. Well-rewarded for a solid race, the 2017 Runner Up is now the leader of the pack once again after his controlled performance, including a late race pass on Tech 3’s Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3).

Zarco was top Independent Team rider in P6, with former championship leader Cal Crutchlow sliding out at the final corner on his LCR Honda when attacking the Frenchman earlier in the race. Suzuki’s Alex also then suffered a tumble soon after and retired.

Meanwhile, Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa followed up two stunning showings on Friday and Saturday to come home in a superhuman P7. Back on track and racing just over a week after surgery on his broken wrist sustained in the Argentina GP, the ‘Little Samurai’ rode a heroic push through the pain barrier around the punishing, technical challenge of the Circuit of the Americas in a performance worthy of the history books, taking home nine points ahead of the Championship’s return to one of his best venues: Jerez.

Special mention must also go to a resurgent Tito Rabat – the Spaniard guided his with Tito Rabat Avintia Racing customer Ducati to finish ahead of Pramac Racing’s Jack Miller and Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro.

Jorge Lorenzo suffered another miserable race in 11th, fuelling more rumours that his lacklustre performances on the factory Ducati will see him lose his ride.

Pramac Racing’s Danilo Petrucci took P12, ahead of some impressive points for Pol Espargaro and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing in P13. LCR Honda’s Takaaki Nakagami was top rookie in P14, ahead of Alvaro Bautista on the Angel Nieto Team Ducati.

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MotoGP – rampant Marquez secures pole in Austin, or does he?

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Things got pretty hot in Texas in qualifying for the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, with drama first striking as reigning champion Marc Marquez took a tumble on his Repsol Honda at Turn 13.

With the other riders closing in on his time as he made his way back to the Honda garage on a scooter, Marquez was able to get back out, and set a sixth pole position at the Circuit of the Americas – closely followed by a resurgent Maverick Viñales on the Yamaha.

However, that wasn’t the end of the tale, and Marquez found his riding under the spotlight again – Viñales, after an impressive show of race pace earlier in the day in FP4, came across a slower-moving Marquez on his first flyer on his second run and was forced to abandon the lap.

A visibly angry Viñales gesticulated wildly as the pair made their way back to Parc Ferme, with both riders skirting round the intense media interest in the incident in the post qualifying interviews.

However, the clash was investigated by the stewards and Marquez was given a three-place grid penalty and will therefore actually start from fourth.

Viñales said: “For sure I’m very satisfied. It’s been a long time since I was on the first row. I think tomorrow we can do a great race. I felt really good with the tyres, especially the rear. I think that tomorrow we still have a little room to improve. Race by race I’m finding my own bike, my own style, and I still have a margin to push more. I’m quite happy and tomorrow we’re going to try to be even faster. I’m very much focused on tomorrow. We had great pace in FP4 and we have to keep pushing. I think fighting for the victory will be difficult, but not impossible. I feel good and I feel good on the bike, so let’s see. I think between today and tomorrow we can make another step.”

Marquez said: “Of course qualifying was a bit hectic. I crashed and had to take my second bike for the second run. I went out, and unfortunately I didn’t expect Maverick to arrive behind me because I was focused on Iannone, who was waiting ahead and who I knew could be very fast.

“I apologised to Maverick but I didn’t realise he was behind me until I heard his engine. So tomorrow I’ll start from fourth. It will be important to choose the right tyre; we’ve worked a lot on used tyres and I was able to be consistent during the practices, but this track is quite physically demanding and tomorrow the temperature should be higher, so we’ll see. We’ll try and remain fully concentrated.”

It was a good qualifying for Suzuki’s Andrea Iannone, with the Italian setting the third fastest lap, with Tech 3’s Johann Zarco bumped back onto the front row to make it seven races in the row the Frenchman has lined up there.

He had Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi for very close company on the timesheets; the Italian just 0.019 back and now starting fifth, next to Marquez, who now heads up Row 2 following his demotion on the grid.

It was just as tight for sixth and the final spot on the second row, as Ducati’s Jorge Lorenzo was only another 0.065 in arrears behind the ‘Doctor’.

Championship leader Cal Crutchlow took seventh on his LCR Honda as he aims to keep his points lead on Sunday, and he’s just ahead of the man chasing him in the standings, Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso.

Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa completes that star-studded third row. the Spaniard impressing despite struggling with the after effects of surgery on a broken wrist sustained in the Argentina GP.

Q1 graduate Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing), Argentina GP podium finisher Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) completed the top twelve – with Espargaro having put in a stunner to come through Q1 and get KTM’s first visit to Q2 this season. However, the KTM rider was also given a three-place grid penalty, meaning Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) will start P12.

MotoGP – Dovizioso takes first blood at season opener in Qatar

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Andrea Dovizioso took top honours at the opening round of the 2018 season, holding off a determined challenge by Marc Marquez to cement his place as the second most successful racer in Ducati’s history.

The Italian rider, who started from Row 2, was unable to get a good start when the lights went out and he crossed the line at the end of the opening lap in seventh place.

However, Dovizioso dug deep, consolidated his position and then began moving up into the leading group, battling with Marquez, Rossi and Zarco before taking over at the front on lap 18.

Dovizioso was unable to shake off Marquez on the Repsol Honda, the Spaniard shadowing the Italian before launching an attack at the final curve. However, Dovizioso held his nerve and was able to get through on the inside and profit from the acceleration of his Desmosedici GP18 to cross the line just 0.027s ahead of his Honda rival.

Dovizioso said: “I’m really happy with this win because we have confirmed the improvements made over the winter and I was able to manage the race well, even though I made a really bad start.

“On the first lap I had to come off the gas, otherwise I would have crashed into Rins I think, but then I began to make up places, trying not to ruin the tyres.. Towards the end, after passing Zarco, I tried to pull out a gap on Marquez and Rossi but I didn’t have any more grip and was unable to increase my lead.

“At the last curve I had to be very careful because I knew that Marquez would try and pass me, and that’s how it went. He closed the door on me even more than in Austria and Japan, but I passed him on the inside of the kerb and then took advantage of the power of my Desmosedici to stay ahead.”

The win means Dovizioso has overtaken Loris Capirossi in the list of most victorious Ducati riders in MotoGP with eight wins to his name, and is now in second place in this particular ranking behind Casey Stoner.

The race was less enjoyable for team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, who crashed out with a front brake problem on Lap 12.

The Spaniard said: “It wasn’t one of the best weekends for me. I had a lot of problems and my crash was the result of a problem with the front brakes. Already on Lap 2 I realised that something wasn’t right and I tried to manage the situation, but the problem was getting worse. I thought it was an overheating problem, but when I was about to catch Iannone I wasn’t able to stop the bike and I tipped myself off to avoid worse damage. Now we have to understand what exactly happened to prevent the same problem from repeating itself in the future. It’s a pity because I was lapping with good times and I think I could have got closer to the leading group.”

MotoGP: Marquez extends Honda contract

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The 2018 season may not even have kicked off, but Marc Marquez has become the third rider to secure his long-term future after signing a contract extension with Honda to stay with the Repsol team for two more years, for the 2019 and 2020 seasons.

Marquez said: “I’m excited to continue to race for Honda’s factory team in the MotoGP class. I’m proud to race as a member of the Honda family, and I appreciate how Honda and the team always do their best to provide me with everything I need. I would also like to thank everyone who has given me such warm support over the years. The first two official tests went well and, with my contract renewed, I can focus on racing in the new season. I will continue to enjoy racing, share my joy with everybody and do my best to reach our shared goals. Thank you!”

The news makes sense – Marquez is very happy with Honda, and at this point in his career, his main ambition is to keep winning races and championships.

He has proven that he is capable of doing that with Honda. And the bike looks to be better than last season’s machine; Marquez has been both very fast and very comfortable in winter testing, his long runs an indication of just how fast he is, even in race trim. With Dani Pedrosa and Cal Crutchlow also quick on the bike, the RC213V looks like being extremely competitive this year.

Marquez is the third rider to sign a new contract before the season has even begun.

Maverick Viñales announced that he would be back with Yamaha for two more years at the Movistar Yamaha team launch, before he had even swung a leg over the bike, and Ducati announced they had signed Pecco Bagnaia to the Pramac team for two years.

With Cal Crutchlow, Franco Morbidelli, and Xavier Simeon all having contracts for 2019 with their current teams, that brings the total number of riders already signed for next year up to six.

MotoGP –Pedrosa sets the fastest time in Buriram, Marquez shows the best pace

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The Repsol Honda team has wrapped up a positive final day of testing in Thailand, which saw Dani Pedrosa setting the fastest time of the day and the best overall with a 1’29.781” on lap 77 of 78.

The Spaniard said: “We leave Thailand with positive feelings. The test was quite tough as the temperatures were high, and we worked really hard over the three days. In the end we didn’t have many tyres left, so we had to carefully manage the planning of our work.

“We worked on many aspects of the bike’s setup, and step-by-step we improved our speed and pace. Among other things, today we tested a carbon swing arm that’s a new area for us to work on, so we’re still in the process of learning and of finding the feeling. I’m very happy with the job my team is doing at the track, and with what the engineers are doing back in Japan. They’re really helping us to improve, and this is good and gives us confidence. Hopefully we’ll be able to continue this trend at the final test in Qatar, which will be very interesting as conditions will be different.”

The session saw both factory riders working on the general development of their RC213V, carrying out tests on the latest engine configuration, chassis, aerodynamics, and Michelin tyres.

Over the three days of testing, Marquez completed a total of 271 laps, Pedrosa  224, and while Pedrosa topped the timesheet, Marquez managed a very impressive 20-lap race simulation in the afternoon, featuring a long string of high-1’30” laps. His quickest time on the final day was a 1’30.143” on lap 27 of 96, the fourth-fastest among all riders (yesterday’s best of 1’29.969” places him third in the combined classification).

MotoGP – Pedrosa wins, Marquez takes the title in scintillating finale

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The final race of the season was an epic climax to 2018, with with Dani Pedrosa winning the Grand Prix, his seventh at Valencia across all classes and his 31st in the MotoGP class.

But all eyes were on team-mate Marc Marquez and Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso to see which pilot would take the title.

It was Marquez who got the better start, hustling his way to the front before Tech 3’s Johann Zarco assumed the lead on lap four.

Dovizioso also made a blistering start, forcing his way through the midfield to sit behind team-mate Jorge Lorenzo.

Marquez was happy in second – he’d win the title – and stuck behind the satellite Yamaha for 20 laps before making a pass. However, he immediately ran wide in Turn 1, the front wheel closing at full left lock. But Marquez would not be beaten and managed to balance the bike on his knee and his elbow, holding on in the hope the front would come back to him as smoke poured off the front tire. The rear finally gripped and he succeeded in flipping the bike back up again as he headed to the edge of the hard standing on the outside of Turn 1. With something resembling control, he ran off the track and through the gravel, rejoining behind the Ducatis and several seconds behind.

The Ducatis were embroiled in an internal battle of their own. To stand any chance of landing the title, Dovizioso had to get past his team-mate. Lap after lap Lorenzo refused to move over, and then the ‘Suggested Mapping 8’ appeared on his dashboard, the same message which had been shown at Sepang. This was surely the sign that Ducati were ordering Lorenzo to let Dovizioso by, but Lorenzo steadfastly refused to obey.

The same message was sent again just five laps later, and then a lap later it was clear for all to see – Lorenzo’s pit board had an instruction to drop one place, thus allowing Dovizioso through.

The messages kept coming, on both dashboard and pit board, but Lorenzo kept ignoring them, and actually started catching Pedrosa in second, dropping Dovizioso in the process as if to prove a point.

It is this stubbornness which would cost him dearly. He had caught Pedrosa and was starting to push, too hard as it turned out, and lost the front in Turn 5, crashing out.

And just three corners later the title was decided as Dovizioso failed to get his bike stopped on the way into Turn 8, ran straight on into the gravel, and tumbled over at slow speed. Dovizioso remounted his bike, and cruised back to the Ducati garage, where he retired. The title was now Marquez’s, regardless of where he finished.

At the front, the battle continued to rage, with Pedrosa dicing with Zarco for the lead. With four laps left, the Spaniard was clearly quicker than Zarco, and on the final lap he pounced. He was close enough behind Zarco to use the slipstream of the Frenchman to launch himself out of the draft along the straight and grab the inside line as he drew level with Zarco, holding him off on the brakes. The Repsol Honda rider then continued to push while riding defensive lines, and eventually crossed the line to take victory, his second of the season, and scoring enough points to secure the team championship for Repsol Honda.

It was a fitting end to a spectacular season. Roll on 2018…

 

MotoGP – Desmo Dovi wins scintillating wet race at Motegi

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Unprecedented weather at Motegi this weekend had seen every session declared wet – the first time in the MotoGP era – and race day was no exception as the skies opened and a torrential downpour covered the 4,801m Japanese circuit.

With rain in the air, the riders lined up on the grid, Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech3) took pole position after setting the best time in yesterday’s qualifying. As the lights changed Marquez was ahead in the first corner, but was soon passed by Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team). The Spaniard held this position until Lap Two, before Danilo Petrucci (OCTO Pramac Racing) took his place at the head of the field. Petrucci then began stretching his lead at the front, as the remainder of the pack got involved in their own battles behind him.

As the race progressed, Marquez closed on the leader and overtook him on Lap 13, before Dovizioso snatched the lead from the reigning World Champion on Lap 19, with what was to be the first of many changes of leadership between the pair as the race drew to a close. Dovizioso’s surge to the front resulted in him setting the fastest time of the day, and the top-two in the championship then went head-to-head over the remainder of the race, before heading into the last-lap with Marquez out in front.

With rain still falling, Dovizioso lined up a successful pass at the 90° corner, only to see Marquez come past him straight away, before the Ducati-rider again got the best of the Honda-mounted man to take victory at the end of a scintillating race. Marquez crossed the line in second and saw his title-lead cut to just 11-points, with three races remaining. Petrucci finished third and had the distinction of taking the First Independent Rider honours.

Dovizioso said: “It was a difficult race because at the start there wasn’t much grip and I didn’t have a good feeling with the bike but I never gave up, not even when I was losing ground, and this made all the difference.

“Marc was really quick and he tried right until the end, but there were some places where I could attack and he also made a small mistake on the last lap which gave me a chance to catch him again and try and pass him at Turn 11.

“I knew that he was going to attack me in the final two corners but I was prepared for this, I closed the door on him and he had to go a bit wide to pass me. It was absolutely vital to win here and I’m really so pleased for the whole team and for the championship.”

The race was watched trackside by 52,439 fans who braved the awful weather and they were treated to battles throughout the race that almost matched the excitement at the front. Andrea Iannone (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR) took fourth, just ahead of team-mate Alex Rins (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR), both recording their best results of the season so far. Lorenzo was sixth, followed home by Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini). Zarco took eighth and continues to lead both the Independent Team Rider and Rookie Championships. Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) was ninth, with Loris Baz (Reale Avintia Racing) rounding out the top-ten.

MotoGP – Repsol Honda duo dominate Aragon

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Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa scored a fantastic one-two result at the Aragon Grand Prix.

The duo, starting from the second row of the grid, Marquez on a hard-hard Michelin tyre combination, Pedrosa on medium-medium, fought their way forward to take the squad’s seventh double podium of the season.

The race got off to a dramatic start, with poleman Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) quickly passed by the fast-starting Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team), as the Ducati man led into the first corner and took the race to the rest of the field.

The Ducati racer led for the next 15 of the 23-lap race, with Marquez, Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) – who was returning to competitive racing action just 24-days after breaking his right leg in two places – all in close contention.

Lorenzo came under scrutiny from Marquez, before the reigning world champion made his move on lap-16. Once in the lead Marquez pushed all the way to the line and finished almost a second ahead of his nearest rival, a result that increased his championship lead to 16-points.

Pedrosa made his way from sixth on the grid – setting the fastest lap of the race in the process – to follow his team-mate home, and once he had created enough heat in the tyres he was able to produce fast laps and push his way towards the front of the field. Lorenzo made up the trio of riders on the podium as he steered his machine to third. The choice of Michelin compounds was certainly evident on the podium as soft, medium, and hard rear versions were used by the top-three collectively.

Pole-setter Viñales was the next across the line after the top-three, following a spirited fight with his team-mate Rossi. Sixth – and the first independent rider – went to Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), as he equalled his best result of the season so far. Dovizioso came home in seventh to consolidate his second position in the championship, with Alvaro Bautista (Pull&Bear Aspar Team) in eighth. Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) took ninth and strengthened his lead in the Independent and Rookie of the Year title chases. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) rounded out the top-ten.

Marquez’s 60th career win is also his fifth this year and his ninth podium of the season (the seventh out of the last eight races), helping him to pull a small gap of 16 points over Andrea Dovizioso and 28 points over Maverick Viñales, his two closest pursuers in the title chase.

Marquez said: “I’m very very happy with this victory because it was a tough race. Yesterday I wasn’t feeling totally comfortable with the bike, and today I was struggling again except in the warm-up; I don’t really know why. Anyway, racing at one of my favourite tracks, close to my home and in front of my fans, gave me extra motivation. I pushed hard and in some corners I just clicked the off-button in my head, even if I crashed twice yesterday. I saw that Viñales and Dovi were struggling a bit and knew it was the moment to push, so I did.

“There were a few scary moments, once when I was trying to overtake Valentino; he was tighter in that corner than I was expecting, and to avoid a clash I released the brakes, only to realise that Lorenzo was right there. So I went off the track, and at that moment I cooled down a bit, even if I continued to try and close the gap. Once I passed Lorenzo, I had to keep going as I saw that Dani was coming very fast. Anyway, that’s the Marquez style. Of course it’s important to think of the championship, but the situation now requires that we give it everything. So we’ll try to continue with the same motivation and mentality race by race, giving our 100 per cent.”

MotoGP – dominant win for Marquez at Brno

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Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez took a back-to-back victory at Brno in challenging conditions, his third this year and the 58th in his career, extending his championship lead to 14 points over his closest follower.

It was the fifth flag-to-flag race that Marquez has perfectly mastered thanks to a mix of tactics and determination – on this occasion the Spaniard found himself struggling soon after the lights went off, having fitted a soft rear tyre that he wasn’t at ease with on a drying track.

He was the first to roll the dice and pitted on Lap Two, where his team was ready with his second bike fitted with slick tyres. That allowed him to pull a huge gap on his opponents, which he managed until the chequered flag.

Team-mate Pedrosa was also on form and secured a strong second place, bringing his career podium tally to 150 (and his MotoGP podium tally to 109, one more than Jorge Lorenzo) – Pedrosa switched to his second bike on Lap Four and re-entered the race in eighth position. He immediately started riding at a very fast pace, fighting his way forward to second and setting the fastest lap of the race along the way.

Maverick Viñales finished third on the Factory Yamaha, one place ahead of his team-mate Valentino Rossi with Cal Crutchlow rounding out the top five on the LCR Honda.

The all-Spanish rostrum was a fitting way to honour the “Maestro” Angel Nieto, 12+1 World Champion, who passed away on Thursday.

Marquez said: “This was a very special Sunday because everyone was racing for Angel Nieto, but it was also a very challenging race. On the grid, I took the risk to use the soft rear tyre because I thought it would give me extra grip for five laps before pitting to change bikes, but it didn’t go like that.

“I soon started to struggle a lot and lost many positions. When I saw that, I decided to immediately get in and take the risk of the slicks. When I re-joined the race, honestly it was still too damp in some parts and I nearly crashed during the first lap out. When you go out for the flag-to-flag, it’s so difficult to get the feeling with the bike again, but I tried to quickly understand the grip.

“Honestly, today I took some risks but it was one of those days when you just have to do it. After pulling a great gap, I just tried to manage, to ride well, and to finish the race. I’m really very happy with the result. It’s a track I normally struggle at, one I worry about every year, and getting 25 points was very important. The Championship is still very, very tight; we must be able to be fast in every condition.”

MotoGP – Marquez storms to pole in Brno

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On a sunny and hot second day at Brno, Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez claimed a stunning pole position for tomorrow’s Czech Grand Prix, his fourth this season and the 69th of his career.
Team-mate Dani Pedrosa was a close third, a mere 0.046” behind Valentino Rossi on the Factory Yamaha in second and just 0.138” off his teammate.
Marquez said: “I’m very happy with today because I knew that making the pole would be tough, as I normally struggle at this track, but I tried for it anyway.
“The test we did here was useful. I felt good already with the first tyre, even if I nearly crashed as I was pushing very hard. I tried to ride smoothly but still brake hard. With the second tyre, I gave it all I had and we got this pole. I’m very, very happy.
“Tomorrow we’ll see what weather conditions we have, as it looks a bit unstable and not as warm. It will be a long, hard race but we should be able to fight for the podium in either the dry or the wet, so we’re looking forward to it and to enjoying the race.”
Both Marquez and Pedrosa had already displayed a fast pace in the FP3 session, taking P1 and P2 respectively despite suffering a crash each in the early stages, Marquez going down at Turn 10 because of an oil spill from another rider’s bike and Pedrosa sliding out at Turn 8 while pushing hard.