Champion Marquez storms to Argentina MotoGP pole

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Reigning champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) took a fifth pole at Termas de Rio Hondo on Saturday, setting himself up for a charge at another victory at the track.

But there’s more than a couple of riders well within the number 93’s postcode, with Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) just 0.164s back in P2 and Andrea Dovizioso (Mission Winnow Ducati) only another 0.010s further off – a tantalising prospect for lights out at round two.

It’s not just the front row in the spotlight, however. Plenty of eyes will be on the second row as 2015 Argentina GP winner Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) lines up fourth and directly behind Marquez, with 2018 polesitter and top Independent Team rider Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) keeping the ‘Doctor’ more than a little honest in fifth. From Marquez to Miller the grid is covered by just 0.244s.

The tiny margins continue in sixth and seventh, too. Sophomore Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) took P6 and his best ever premier class qualifying position to lock out row two, with rookie teammate Fabio Quartararo once again the fastest debutant on the grid and just point blank fast.

The Frenchman was only 0.011 off Morbidelli, and will be hoping to avoid his dramatic start to the Qatar GP. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) took P8 and he’s aiming for the podium having won from P10 on the grid last season, with the British rider joined by teammate and Q1 graduate Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) on row three.

Danilo Petrucci (Mission Winnow Ducati) completes a top 10 covered by 0.789s at Termas de Rio Hondo, with Q1 graduate Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) starting from P11.

That was after Jorge Lorenzo’s (Repsol Honda Team) fastest lap was cancelled due to exceeding track limits – the five-time World Champion will start from 12th, nevertheless a solid Saturday as he continues both his adaptation to the Honda and his recovery from injury.

Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) starts P13 ahead of another impressive performance from Red Bull KTM Tech 3 rookie Miguel Oliveira who will likely fancy his chances at some good points, with Karel Abraham (Reale Avintia Racing) putting in a solid showing in P15.

A major shock in Q1, however, was 2018 Argentina GP podium finisher Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar). The Spaniard’s success at the track last year was his first rostrum in the premier class but in 2019 he’ll line up in P16.

In Moto2, EG 0,0 Marc VDS’ Xavi Vierge will once again start from pole position in Argentina, 12 months on from securing his first pole position and after bettering Johann Zarco’s fastest ever Moto2 lap around Termas de Rio Hondo with a 1m42.726s.

It’s blink and you’ll miss the gap though as both Marcel Schrotter (Dynavolt Intact GP) and Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) got almost too close to comfort with their last laps – Schrotter just 0.011s off and a single thousandth in further arrears.

Vierge’s EG 0,0 Marc VDS teammate Alex Marquez will front row two of the grid thanks to a 1m42.773s, making it the top four riders who all bettered Zarco’s previous best ever lap from 2015. Dynavolt Intact GP’s Tom Lüthi is in the middle of the second row, before top KTM Brad Binder who put his Red Bull KTM Ajo Moto2 machine in P6.

After showing strong pace all weekend, Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) will start Sunday’s race from seventh on the grid. The Australian’s Q2 lap was over a tenth slower than the lap that saw him top FP3 earlier in the day.

Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai) will start the Moto3 race from his first ever pole position after FP1’s fastest man struck back to set the pace on Saturday afternoon. His benchmark 1m48.775s puts him over three tenths clear of Q1 graduate Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) in second, with 2018 polesitter Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) completing the front row in third.

Detailed results

Source: CycleOnline.com.au

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