The signs all pointed to him, and Marc Marquez lived up to expectation at Brno. The Honda rider dominated in qualifying, despite coming very close to a crash in the early stages. The Spaniard scores pole with a time of 1’54”981. A perfect performance by #93, who found that little extra in the final phase: “I often struggle at this track – he recalls - but everything's going in the right direction. We need to be ready tomorrow - he adds - as it might rain and so we need to be prepared for anything”.
There wasn't total Honda domination though, as the five-time champion is followed not by Dani Pedrosa, but by Valentino Rossi. The Doctor closes just 0.092 behind, recovering after Friday's difficulties: “I'm really pleased, as I wanted the front row – comments #46 – I felt confident with the soft tyre, and was also happy with the bike's balance. A pity it's not pole – he adds – now we have to prepare for the race. The Hondas have better pace than me, they stress the tyre less - he explains - I wouldn't discount Dovizioso either”.
With the Yamaha rider second, Pedrosa (+0.138) has to settle for third: “I would have liked pole - he comments – I tried, but it's a good result anyway. Marc is the race favourite, but we'll have to see what the weather brings too”.
Heading up the second row is the Ducati of Andrea Dovizioso (+0.460). The Italian is just 0.048 ahead of Cal Crutchlow on the Honda, who may have fractured his T6 vertebra following a crash in practice. Alongside him is Jorge Lorenzo (+0.571), who appears confident with the new GP17 fairing.
Rossi aside, qualifying has highlighted Yamaha's difficulties. Maverick Vinales (+0.682) couldn't do more than seventh, followed by Danilo Petrucci. The Spaniard is suffering particularly through the central part of the track, losing precious tenths. Johann Zarco is even fyerther back, tenth, while Jonas Folger didn't even reach Q2. The same goes for Andrea Iannone, who's in a tunnel at Brno.