Runaway championship leader Marc Marquez took pole at the German Grand Prix for a ninth consecutive year after qualifying on Saturday.

Honda’s Spanish star set himself up for a sixth straight MotoGP win at the Sachsenring by breaking the course record with a time of 1 minute 20.27 seconds on his final lap to nudge into first spot on Sunday’s grid.

The front row is a repeat of last year with Marquez joined by Italian Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Pramac) who was 0.025 seconds back and Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati) who was 0.057 slower.

Marquez was the third rider to set a course best time in the session. Lorenzo did it first, but his record lasted less than a second before Petrucci followed across the line a shade faster.

Marquez needed to make up nearly a quarter of a second in his final lap.

“Honestly I didn’t expect this pole,” Marquez said  “I made some mistakes, including one on the last lap that was so difficult to recover what I lost, but these 20 milliseconds were enough to get the pole.”

Marquez rode three flying laps, changing tyres for each one, while his rivals only went for two.

“We were trying to plan the perfect strategy for pole,” he said.

Ducati has only won once in Germany in 20 years, when Australian Casey Stoner was first in 2008. 

“Ducati is finally performing on this circuit, that makes me happy,” said Lorenzo. “I can improve a bit for the race.”  

Petrucci was fastest in the first three sessions and seemed well placed for his first ever pole in a Grand Prix.

“We were fast all week-end, always in an excellent position,” he said. 

A Spaniard Maverick Vinales (Yamaha) and Italians Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) and Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) make up the second row.

Marquez comes to Germany having finished atop the podium in the Netherlands after an incredible race that saw the first 15 riders cross the line just 16.043sec apart. It was the closest top-15 finish of all time.

The track at Sachsenring is the shortest on the calendar at 3.67km (2.28 miles), but it is also tight and twisty, so could also throw up another close finish.

On Saturday less than two tenths of a second separated the first five riders.

Honda and Marquez have dominated at the German circuit since 2010. The Spaniard made himself King of the Ring by winning the last five years in MotoGp. In the three years before that, he won in lower categories, while Dani Pedrosa won the main event on a Honda. – Agence France-Presse

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