MotoGP Phillip Island: Martin breaks nine year record for pole

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Picture: GeeBee Images

Prima Pramac’s Jorge Martin celebrated pole position at Phillip Island after breaking namesake Lorenzo’s 2013 all-time lap record with a 1’27.767 effort.

Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez trailed the Ducati by just 0.013s with factory Lenovo rider Pecco Bagnaia completing the front row in the hotly contested session. Just two tenths of a second covering the top five by the end of play.

Qualifying kicked off with Aprilia’s Maverick Viñales having topped FP4 from Friday hero Johann Zarco and Mooney VR46’s Marco Bezzecchi while Marquez controlled the morning’s FP3 - from the second VR46 machine of Luca Marini.

Suzuki Ecstar’s returning Joan Mir set the Q1 pace with a 1’28.611 as Repsol Honda’s Pol Espargaro set his sights on the second promotion position. The Spaniard’s impressive pace - after third overall on Friday - dented as Gresini’s Enea Bastianini bettered overall to demote him out of contention. Zarco sat fourth from Tech3 local Remy Gardner before the Prima Pramac rider hit the top with a 1’28.498.

Mir and Espargaro were back in charge as the final runs fired up, the Honda leading the way by a tenth with Zarco 0.006s adrift of Q2 and two minutes left on the clock. Red sectors ignited as Zarco pushed for P1, the Frenchman securing the spoils with a 1’28.132 effort while Alex Rins claimed second two tenths back. Title-fighter Bastianini the last man to challenge with the Italian missing out on promotion by a mere 0.038s after meeting traffic as the chequered flag flew and set for a 13th place start in Sunday’s battle.

Martin was the man in charge as Q2 began. The Pramac rider setting a 1’28.112 on his first visit to the Australian circuit in the premier class, as just a tenth covered the entire top four in the opening minutes before Pecco Bagnaia bettered with a 1’28.0 for provisional pole.

Fabio Quartararo was the next to strike for the front row. The Monster Energy Yamaha claiming third, at the expense of Bezzecchi, while Marquez saved a major moment at turn ten from fifth in the standings. Home hero Jack Miller circulated tenth after the opening runs with Viñales, Zarco and the second Aprilia of Aleix Espargaro ahead while Rins and LCR’s Alex Marquez completed the set at the halfway stage.

Bagnaia was trailed by the pack as the final runs got underway. Marquez and Rins in hot pursuit on the back of the Italian as the Pramacs of Martin and Zarco once again set the pace. Quartararo back in third before Espargaro split the Ducati’s out front. Marquez was the next to power across the line as he claimed the runner-up spot from Bagnaia, Martin’s 1’27.767 all-time lap record holding court by 0.013s as the flag prepared.

Quartararo settled for fifth as the session wound to conclusion. Zarco completing the second row with Marini heading Miller and Bezzecchi behind while Rins, Alex Marquez and Vinales rounded out the top 12.

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