Austrian GP – Fears of bad weather melted away at the Red Bull Ring. The morning stayed dry, allowing a more predictable top ten for Q2, but then a muggy afternoon complicated matters, with the favoured soft tyres not working for everyone.
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) took control from the morning, then blazed to his fifth pole of the season and his third in succession by a margin that was only narrowed at the last gasp by yesterday’s fast man Andrea Dovizioso.
The Ducati rider had struggled on the soft rear favoured by the others, and switched to a harder rear. “It was the right strategy,” he said. But only at the end.
Ducati’s strength at the drag-strip track, fastest of the year, was reinforced by Jorge Lorenzo, taking the third front-row slot, his second time up front this year.
Maverick Vinales (Movistar Yamaha) will head row two from Danilo Petrucci (Pramac Ducati) and Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha).
Petrucci had come through from Q1 along with Dani Pedrosa. But the Repsol Honda rider finished up eighth, between Rossi (Movistar Yamaha) and Crutchlow (LCR Honda) on row three.
The fourth was led by Iannone’s Suzuki from an on-form Karel Abraham and Loris Baz (both Ducati), with Folger (Yamaha) best of the rest.
Moto2 qualifying could hardly have been closer, with the top 21 within the same second, and Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Kalex) on a second successive pole by one thousandth of a second, displacing points leader Franco Morbidelli (VDS Kalex), with Morbidelli’s team-mate Alex Marquez completing the front row.
Brno winner and now title challenger Thomas Luthi was in the middle of row two between two other Kalexes, both ridden by class rookies, with Pecco Bagnaia fourth and Fabio Quartararo sixth.
There was a second successive pole sitter in Moto3 as well, and the second time this year it has not been a Honda. Spaniard Gabriel Rodrigo led another KTM, ridden by J Guevara. Aron Canet was third, and top Honda; with two more heading row two – Bastianini and McPhee ahead of KTM-mounted Bendsneyder.
Title leader Joan Mir (Honda) was an uncharacteristic tenth, but again times were close, with 22 riders in the same second.
By Michael Scott