Red Bull Ring MotoGP: Marc Marquez breaks Mick Doohan's pole record

Valentin Khorounzhiy
Marquez breaks Doohan's record with Austria pole
Marquez breaks Doohan's record with Austria pole

Honda rider Marc Marquez secured a dominant pole position for MotoGP's Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring, breaking Mick Doohan's record for most premier-class poles.

Marquez's 59th MotoGP pole also came with the new lap record, as he surpassed Andrea Iannone's previous benchmark from 2016.

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Yamaha rider Maverick Vinales took the unusual step of doing his first run with the medium rear tyre, and led after the opening series of flyers - improving by three tenths of a second on his second attempt to end up on 1m23.628s.

Yet Marquez overcame Vinales almost right away with a 1m23.359s, retaining a quarter-second lead as the 15-minute Q2 session passed its halfway point.

By that point Vinales had switched to a soft rear, and after a few attempts he whittled Marquez's lead down to 0.164s.

The championship leader responded immediately once more, setting a new track record with a 1m23.027s.

Marquez was unable to improve on his two final laps but his pole came under no threat, with nearest rival Fabio Quartararo coming up 0.434s short at the chequered flag.

Quartararo's late improvement relegated Andrea Dovizioso into third, the Ducati rider having surpassed Vinales by just 0.008s for what turned out to be the final place on the front row.

Two riders on year-old machinery - Pramac Ducati's Francesco Bagnaia and LCR Honda's Takaaki Nakagami - made up the top six, both recording their best-ever qualifying results in MotoGP.

Marquez breaks Doohan's record with Austria pole
Marquez breaks Doohan's record with Austria pole

Bagnaia had come through Q1 alongside LCR Honda's Cal Crutchlow, who will ultimately line up ninth, joining Suzuki's Alex Rins and Bagnaia's Pramac team-mate Jack Miller on the third row.

Like Vinales, Valentino Rossi ran the medium tyre early in Q2, but the Italian ended up only 10th, ahead of KTM's Pol Espargaro and Ducati's Danilo Petrucci.

Petrucci crashed at the downhill Turn 4 right-hander and completed a Q2 order split by just 0.937s.

Tech3 KTM rider Miguel Oliveira sat at the top of the Q1 timesheets when the chequered flag flew in the opening segments, but last-gasp improvements from Crutchlow and Bagnaia denied him a spot in the pole shootout so he will start 13th.

Behind Oliveira, Petronas rider Franco Morbidelli was the sole Yamaha out of Q2 in 14th, while Tito Rabat came close to his best qualifying result of the year by taking 15th, 0.003s up on the second works KTM of Johann Zarco.

Former lap record holder Iannone will be the top Aprilia rider on the grid in 18th, having beaten team-mate Aleix Espargaro in qualifying for the first time this season.

Honda test rider Stefan Bradl, standing in for the injured Jorge Lorenzo at the works outfit this weekend, will start 21st and last.

Provisional starting grid

Pos

Rider

Team

Time

Gap

1

Marc Marquez

Honda

1m23.027s

-

2

Fabio Quartararo

Petronas Yamaha

1m23.461s

0.434s

3

Andrea Dovizioso

Ducati

1m23.515s

0.488s

4

Maverick Vinales

Yamaha

1m23.523s

0.496s

5

Francesco Bagnaia

Pramac Ducati

1m23.652s

0.625s

6

Takaaki Nakagami

LCR Honda

1m23.669s

0.642s

7

Alex Rins

Suzuki

1m23.681s

0.654s

8

Jack Miller

Pramac Ducati

1m23.688s

0.661s

9

Cal Crutchlow

LCR Honda

1m23.754s

0.727s

10

Valentino Rossi

Yamaha

1m23.817s

0.790s

11

Pol Espargaro

KTM

1m23.866s

0.839s

12

Danilo Petrucci

Ducati

1m23.964s

0.937s

13

Miguel Oliveira

Tech3 KTM

1m24.130s

-

14

Franco Morbidelli

Petronas Yamaha

1m24.270s

-

15

Tito Rabat

Avintia Ducati

1m24.389s

-

16

Johann Zarco

KTM

1m24.392s

-

17

Karel Abraham

Avintia Ducati

1m24.423s

-

18

Andrea Iannone

Aprilia

1m24.526s

-

19

Aleix Espargaro

Aprilia

1m24.749s

-

20

Hafizh Syahrin

Tech3 KTM

1m24.759s

-

21

Stefan Bradl

Honda

1m25.020s

-

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