World championship leader Marc Marquez swept to pole position with a flying lap in the final seconds of qualifying Saturday for the Australian MotoGP at Phillip Island.

Marquez grabbed his 44th pole in his 88th MotoGP with a best lap time of one minute 28.386 seconds.

The Spanish Honda rider, who leads the world championship by 11 points with three rounds left, will start off on the inside of Sunday’s race grid from compatriot Maverick Vinales and French Yamaha racer Johann Zarco.

Andrea Iannone (Suzuki), Australian Jack Miller (Honda) and Pol Espargaro (KTM) will start off the second row of the grid.

Six-time race winner Valentino Rossi will join Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) and Briton Bradley Smith (KTM) on the third row.

Andrea Dovizioso, who beat Marquez in a thrilling final lap duel in Japan last weekend, struggled in qualifying and will start off the fourth row along with last year’s race winner Cal Crutchlow and Dani Pedrosa.

Rossi and Smith advanced to the second qualifying session by finishing in the top two positions in the first session, for riders whose practice times were outside the top ten.

Rossi posted a best 1:29.346 lap time on his Yamaha, 0.359secs ahead of Smith on a KTM.

Triple world MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo, who injured his ankle in a tumble during third free practice, was sixth on his Ducati to push him down to 16th on Sunday’s race grid.-Agence France-Presse


Leading grid positions for the Australian Grand Prix after qualifying on Saturday:


1st row

1. Marc Marquez (ESP/Honda) 1:28.386, 2. Maverick Vinales (ESP/Yamaha) 1:28.719, 3. Johann Zarco (FRA/Yamaha) 1:28.744

2nd row

4. Andrea Iannone (ITA/Suzuki) 1:28.937, 5. Jack Miller (AUS/Honda) 1:28.964, 6. Pol Espargaro (ESP/KTM) 1:29.030

3rd row

7. Valentino Rossi (ITA/Yamaha) 1:29.203, 8. Aleix Espargaro (ESP/Aprilia) 1:29.271, 9. Bradley Smith (GBR/KTM) 1:29.321

4th row

10. Cal Crutchlow (GBR/Honda) 1:29.429, 11. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA/Ducati) 1:29.496, 12. Dani Pedrosa (ESP/Honda)1:29.546


1st row

1. Mattia Pasini (ITA/Kalex) 1:33.300, 2. Marcel Schrotter (GER/Suter) 1:33.308, 3. Miguel Oliveira (POR/KTM) 1:33.422

2nd row

4. Brad Binder (RSA/KTM) 1:33.453, 5. Franco Morbidelli (ITA/Kalex) 1:33.495, 6. Alex Marquez (ESP/Kalex) 1:33.749

3rd row

7. Takaaki Nakagami (JPN/Honda) 1:33.921, 8. Dominique Aegerter (SUI/Suter) 1:33.944, 9. Jesko Raffin (SUI/Kalex) 1:33.982



1st row

1. Jorge Martin (ESP/Honda) 1:37.030, 2. Gabriel Rodrigo (ARG/KTM) 1:37.248, 3. Joan Mir (ESP/Honda) 1:37.411

2nd row

4. Juanfran Guevara (ESP/KTM) 1:37.544, 5. Romano Fenati (ITA/Honda) 1:37.680, 6. Jules Danilo (FRA/Honda) 1:37.710

3rd row

7. Manuel Pagliani (ITA/Mahindra) 1:37.713, 8. Aron Canet (ESP/Honda) 1:37.743, 9. Enea Bastianini (ITA/Honda) 1:37.820

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