Marc Marquez has qualified on pole position for the first time in the MotoGP class at Motegi, meaning he has qualified on pole position in the premier class at least once at every track on the current calendar and at a total of 20 different circuits. Mick Doohan holds the record in the premier class with 24 different tracks, followed by Valentino Rossi (21), Marquez (20) and Casey Stoner/Kevin Schwantz (18).
This is the 62nd pole position for Marc Marquez on what is his 124th start in the premier class, meaning he has once again qualified on pole position in exactly half of the races he has competed in since he stepped up to the premier class in 2013.
In addition, this is Marc Marquez’ 90th pole position on what is the 202nd start of his Grand Prix career (44.5%).
Marc Marquez – P1
“First pole position on the MotoGP bike in Motegi is great, I didn’t know it was the last one! It’s a circuit that I usually struggle at a bit but today the setup was working very well in Qualifying and I was able to ride in a different way. It’s important to start on pole at the home of Honda. I felt very strong during Free Practice 4 but the conditions weren’t really normal. It was still a bit wet out on track, tomorrow we will have a lot of pressure from Yamaha and Dovizioso I think, so we still need to work a bit in Warm Up. The target is to fight for the victory, let’s see what the conditions are.”
Franco Morbidelli has qualified in second place, equalling his best qualifying result in the MotoGP class from Jerez earlier this year. In addition, this is Morbidelli’s third front-row start in the premier class, all achieved this year and the third time he’s out-qualified team-mate Quartararo.
Franco Morbidelli – P2
“We did a great job in the wet today after working very well together and after doing a good job yesterday in the dry conditions. It was half wet and half dry in qualifying, but we were able to be fast again so it was an amazing session. I wasn’t expecting to be as fast as I was because I hadn’t tried out the conditions on slick tyres at the end of FP4. The conditions affected qualifying a little bit and we were a second quicker yesterday, so it’s hard to say how much we’ve improved versus our opposition, but we’ll see what happens now in the race.”
Completing the front row is Fabio Quartararo. Since his first front row of his rookie season in Jerez this year when he was on pole position, the Frenchman has only missed out the front on three occasions: Le Mans, Brno and Silverstone.
Fabio Quartararo – P3
“We’ve had good pace in the wet and good pace in the dry this weekend but our weak point has been in the damp, so I was able to make a big step in those conditions today. It wasn’t in our plan but it’s great to have ticked it off. We’ll work a little more in warm-up tomorrow morning to improve our race pace, we need to make a good start, and then let’s see what happens. But I’m feeling good and I think we can fight for the podium again. I’ll give my 100% and try to fight with the guys.”
If Fabio Quartararo wins the race in Japan (20 years and 183 days old), he will be the second-youngest rider to win a premier class Grand Prix race behind Marc Marquez, who was 20 years and 63 days old when he won at the Americas GP back in 2013.
Fabio Quartararo must be more than 75 points ahead of Joan Mir after Motegi to win the fight for the Rookie of the Year. He is currently 85 ahead, and Mir is his only remaining rival.
Maverick Viñales, who has finished on the podium once in the MotoGP class at Motegi with a third place in 2016 with Suzuki, has qualified in fourth place, which is the 13th time this year he starts from the front two rows of the grid.
Maverick Viñales – P4
“Honestly, in these drying conditions, our bike is always difficult, but overall today has been very positive. Being the first rider on the second row was close to the objective, so we can be happy and positive. I think tomorrow we have a good opportunity again to make it a good race. We will for sure try to battle at the front, I will do my best.”
With Franco Morbidelli, Fabio Quartararo and Maverick Viñales, this is the fourth time this year there are three Yamaha riders within the top four in qualifying along with Catalunya, San Marino and Thailand. The last podium finish for Yamaha riders at Motegi was in 2015 as Valentino Rossi took second followed by Jorge Lorenzo in third.
After passing through Q1, Cal Crutchlow, who finished second last year at Motegi, qualified fifth, which is his best qualifying result since he was third on the grid in Americas earlier this year. That was his only front row start of the season so far.
Cal Crutchlow – P5
“It was difficult conditions because there were a lot of wet patches, but it’s difficult every corner or every lap of every circuit. But I’m 34 years old, I shouldn’t be riding like that, putting my neck on the line week in, week out! But it’s good fun, it’s entertaining and I felt good so I was able to push. I made a mistake in the third sector, I ran on the water and I couldn’t get off it so I lost three tenths or something, but I did my best and my best is second row and we’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”
Jack Miller, who failed to score point on his two visits in MotoGP in Japan, has qualified in sixth and is top Ducati. It’s his second successive sixth place to make it the 11th time this year he has qualified on the first two rows.
Jack Miller – P6
“I am quite satisfied with the work done today. The second row is always a good result that allows you to start from a good position. It is clear that I was expecting to do a bit more, but I wasn’t able to do a perfect lap. The feeling is very positive, the bike is working well. I think I can have a good race.”
Last year’s pole-sitter Andrea Dovizioso, who has been on pole at Motegi three times, has qualified seventh. Only twice has he qualified lower on the grid at Motegi: ninth in 2017, when he fought back to take the win, and 13th in his rookie year in MotoGP in 2008. This is the eighth time this year Dovizioso has failed to qualify on the first two rows.
Andrea Dovizioso – P7
“Our qualifying session was a bit difficult because there were still some damp patches on the track, and I wasn’t able to have a really fluid riding style there. It’s a pity about the third row, but we are in quite good shape for the race: let’s hope the warm-up tomorrow morning is dry because we still have to do an important test, with the aim of being protagonists in the race.”
Danilo Petrucci, who finished third place at Motegi in the wet in 2017, has qualified in eighth position, which is the 10th time this season he has qualified within the front three rows of the grid but his second best qualifying result at Motegi.
Danilo Petrucci – P8
“Our intention was to at least get onto the second row, but the track conditions were rather complicated, and it was easy to make a mistake: unfortunately, I made one right on the last lap and wasn’t able to improve my time. In any case, I think we can be competitive tomorrow and, even though I’m starting a little bit further back on the grid, I’m convinced I can do a good race.”
Valentino Rossi, who was the first Yamaha rider across the line last year in Motegi in fourth, has qualified 10th, which is only the third time on his 20 visits to that track in the premier class he has failed to qualify within the front three rows of the grid.
Valentino Rossi – P10
“This weekend so far we tried something that was a little bit different to improve the braking, which is a difficult job, but we‘re trying. Today I still wasn‘t fantastic on braking, but apart from that we‘re all very close in general in terms of the setting. I expected more from Q2, try to start a bit better, because in FP4 I wasn‘t so bad, but it is the way it is. We wait to see what the conditions will be like tomorrow, because it looks like it will be completely dry. My pace in the dry was good yesterday. Today it was quite dry, but the conditions were difficult for everybody. We need to understand if we can improve a little bit for tomorrow, so I can have enough pace to recover positions.”
Motegi MotoGP Qualifying Results