Marquez tops MotoGP Phillip Island qualifiers despite wet conditions

 2016 MotoGP Australian Marc Marquez on pole The Australian Grand Prix qualifiers saw new MotoGP Champion Marc Marquez capture his 37th career pole in premier class. It was Marquez’s seventh pole of the season, as he topped Cal Crutchlow and Pol Espargaro to lead the first row. Aleix Espargaro qualified fourth, ahead of Jack Miller and Danilo Petrucci, to lead off the second row.

Marquez topped the third practice session in mixed conditions, prior to the qualifiers. The second qualifying session ran in wet conditions, but it didn’t bother Marquez on route to the pole. Marquez’s perfect tyre strategy saw him starting the session on an intermediate/intermediate tyre combination and immediately entering the pit to change to full slicks. He was the first one to take the gamble in the changeable conditions, a tactic that allowed him to put in a series of fast laps that nobody else was even able to approach. He nailed his 65th career pole (all-time), as a result.

Pol Espargaro got straight to work in the hour-long session, which was extended due to yesterday’s second practice being cut short because of the bad weather. Today, rain fell again midway through FP3 but Espargaro impressively went on to speed to 4th by the time the chequered flag fell. Then, in Q2, he leapt into life with his sights set on clinching a strong qualifying placement. After changing to slick tyres halfway through the session, he returned to the track and pushed on before eventually posting his personal best on his last lap in what was a nail-biting finish. His efforts saw him seize 3rd which marks his second front row qualifying result in the premier class and his first since Le Mans, 2014.

2016 MotoGP Australian Nicky Hayden qualifying

Marquez’s team mate Nicky Hayden, who returns to Repsol Honda to replace Dani Pedrosa, took up seventh spot to lead off the third row. Prior to that, Hayden displayed a very competitive pace in all conditions and during all of the sessions, including a P1 in practice session 4; after a 25-minute delay due to rain.

Andrea Dovizioso took fifth place with a time of 1:34.721, while Hector Barbera was classified in tenth with a time of 1:35.300 in the third practice. As a result both Ducati riders went through directly into the afternoon’s Q2 session. After FP4, which was interrupted for over half-an-hour due to a heavy downpour over the Australian circuit and which finished with Dovizioso eighth and Barbera fifteenth, the two Ducati riders went out on a still damp track for the fifteen-minute qualifying session, counting for the first four rows of the grid.

After setting their fastest times on front and rear intermediates, both Ducati men stopped in the pits to switch to a rear slick, as the track in the meantime had dried out almost completely, but they were unable to take advantage of the short time remaining and the session came to an end with Dovizioso in ninth and Barbera tenth.

Battling for the runner-up spot in the championship, Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi couldn’t make much impression at the scenic Phillip Island track as they qualified a lowly twelfth and fifteenth.

Considering the limited amount of dry track time that the riders experienced during the weekend, Race Direction decided to extend the length of Sunday’s warm-up session to 30 minutes.

2016 MotoGP Australia qualifying

1 MARQUEZ Marc 93 SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 1’30.189
2 CRUTCHLOW Cal 35 GBR LCR Honda Honda 1’30.981
3 ESPARGARO Pol 44 SPA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 1’31.107
4 ESPARGARO Aleix 41 SPA Team Suzuki Ecstar Suzuki 1’31.673
5 MILLER Jack 43 AUS Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda 1’31.754
6 PETRUCCI Danilo 9 ITA Octo Pramac Racing Ducati 1’32.420
7 HAYDEN Nicky 69 USA Repsol Honda Team Honda 1’32.944
8 BRADL Stefan 6 GER Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia 1’33.015
9 DOVIZIOSO Andrea 4 ITA Ducati Team Ducati 1’33.090
10 BARBERA Hector 8 SPA Ducati Team Ducati 1’33.914