MOTEGI, TOCHIGI PREF. – MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez will eye his 10th win of the season after snatching pole position on Saturday for the Japanese Grand Prix.
The Honda rider clocked 1 minute, 45.763 seconds for his first pole start in the premier class at Twin Ring Motegi, where he won in 2016 and last year.
He will be joined in the front row by Petronas Yamaha SRT riders Franco Morbidelli and hot rookie Fabio Quartararo, who came in 0.132 seconds and 0.181 seconds later, respectively.
Marquez, who finished third in Friday’s practice, has already secured his sixth season win in seven years after triumphing in Thailand two weeks ago.
He also finished second in five of the season’s six other races, missing the podium only once in the United States after crashing out while leading the race.
But Quartararo is nipping at the Spaniard’s heels after two narrow defeats to the world champion in recent races, with victory only decided on the closing laps.
Riders in Motegi had to navigate hostile conditions after heavy rains into the afternoon, leaving the track damp with thick cloud cover for the qualifying sessions.
Sunny weather is expected for Sunday’s race day.
Starting from the second row will be Maverick Vinales of Monster Energy Yamaha, Cal Crutchlow of LCR Honda and Jack Miller of Pramac Racing.
They are followed by Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso, who could seal second place in this year’s championship with Sunday’s race, while Valentino Rossi starts from the fourth row.