Buriram seems to have cast out the problems that had been bothering Yamaha during the last two rounds. Valentino Rossi scores second place in qualifying, a result that we would not have perhaps predicted. The Thai track has given #46 his smile back, following difficulties throughout the Misano and Aragon rounds. Whether it's the flowing track or something to do with tyre suitability, the Doctor appears re-energised and his on-track performance thus far only confirms this.
Now he just has to make that final step, or rather prove himself over race distance, an area where Marc Marquez seems to have an extra gear with respect to the nine-time champion. The #93 Honda rider is on pole in fact, dominating in Q2 after having got through Q1, and closing 0.011 of a second ahead of Rossi. The Spaniard even risked crashing in the final stages, but he was once again able to hang on to his bike.
It's not surprising that the session was so closely fought, the track not allowing for riders to make too much of a difference time-wise. Joining Marquez and Rossi on the front row is Andrea Dovizioso, 0.139 from the front. The Ducati is losing precious tenths through T3 and T4 though, something that the Italian rider readily admitted yesterday.
Dovizioso will start from the front row, while Maverick Vinales will open the second (+0,240). The Spaniard didn't find that confidence with the soft tyre that he was hoping for, closing roughly two and a half tenths from Marquez. His final lap nevertheless bumped Cal Crutchlow from fourth (+0.268), the Honda rider having to settle for fifth ahead of Andrea Iannone on the Suzuki, Dovizioso accusing his fellow countryman of waiting for other riders on track, to such an extent that he might need a compass to find his way.
Danilo Petrucci finishes ninth (+0.511) behind Dani Pedrosa and Johann Zarco, while Jack Miller rounds out the top ten followed by Rins, second in Q1 behind Marquez.