Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) claimed premier class pole position number 59 to surpass MotoGP Legend Mick Doohan's record as the Championship leader was in formidable form in Q2 at the myWorld Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich to head Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) on the front row.
Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) was the fastest rider after the first flying laps at the Red Bull Ring, with the Spaniard doing his first stint on the medium tires. They were clearly working for Viñales though as he went nearly four-tenths quicker than the field on his second fast lap, with teammate Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) and Quartararo all exchanging second position as Viñales’ advantage was chopped.
But, surprise surprise, a Repsol Honda was taking the bull by the horns. Marquez has been the man to beat all weekend in Austria and soon enough, the number 93 was back at the summit. Marquez’ time was 0.269 better than Viñales’ as the reigning Champion sat on provisional pole after the first set of flying laps.
Just seven-tenths covered the top 12 as the riders came out on fresh Michelin rubber for their second qualifying stints, with Viñales switching to a soft rear tire this time. And ‘Top Gun’ went quicker to cut Marquez’ advantage to 0.164 as Dovizioso then ramped up his pace to slot himself onto the provisional front row behind the two Spaniards. The red sectors were lighting up and that was for one man: Marquez.
The Spaniard had Doohan’s premier class pole record well in his sights, and he also had a 1:22 on his radar. Marquez came round to complete his lap, however, it wouldn’t be the 1:22 he was aiming for. No matter, a 1:23.027 was the fastest ever lap we’ve seen around the Red Bull Ring as the relentless 26-year-old went 0.496 better than anyone else.
The front row wasn’t quite decided there though. Dovizioso was able to improve his time to dip 0.008 ahead of Viñales and on his final qualifying lap, rookie revelation Quartararo beat the pair of them to stick his M1 on the front row for the sixth time in 2019. The Frenchman was overjoyed with another quality Saturday display, but Marquez’ gap to the rest still stood at over four-tenths.
Dovizioso will be hoping to use Ducati’s launch control to get underneath both Marquez and Quartararo into Turn 1 on Sunday, while Viñales will be hoping he can get a good launch from the front of row two. Sitting alongside the Yamaha in fifth is Q1 graduate Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing), the reigning Moto2™ World Champion had a cracking Q2 to claim his best MotoGP grid slot – can ‘Pecco’ mix it at the front on Sunday from P5? Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) continued his solid weekend to set the sixth-fastest time in Q2, the Japanese rider was just 0.017 off Bagnaia as three different manufacturers line up on the first and second rows in Austria.
The same happens on the third row, Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins leads Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) and Q1’s fastest man Crutchlow in seventh, eighth and ninth respectively, with P10 going the way of Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP). Behind ‘The Doctor’, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pol Espargaro will launch from P11 to try and claim a good result for the Austrian team on home soil, while a late crash for Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) at Turn 4 ended a disappointing Q2 for the Italian – P12 for ‘Petrux’, rider ok.
Can anyone beat a superlative Marquez on Sunday afternoon? Well, he’s qualified on pole twice in Austria before and has yet to win, so all is not lost for the chasing pack. Dovizioso looks set to be his closest rival, so will Ducati keep up their 100% Red Bull Ring record? A cagey encounter awaits and you don’t want to miss it. 14:00 local time (GMT+2) is when you need to tune in!