Marquez’s first lap in qualifying was quicker than any of his competitors could manage. He pitted early with a then-best 1’38.227 which had him on top of the qualifying board, but as the field gradually quickened its pace into the 1’38 range, Marquez went out and proceeded to clock a blistering 1’37.683 on his penultimate lap to finish 0.742 seconds ahead of Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo who finished in second place. On the other Repsol Honda, Dani Pedrosa will start tomorrow’s race in third place on the grid with his lap time of 1’38.425, putting him on the front row alongside Lorenzo and Marquez.
“Tire management will be key,” says Marquez, whose quickest lap was set using the hard compound front and medium compound rear slicks. Lorenzo was the last to exit the pit lane today for qualifying and chose to go out with the harder compound Bridgestone rear tire, using it to score a best time of 1’39.248, which put him fourth in the provisional standings. Lorenzo then returned to the pits to switch to the softer medium rear tire and went back onto the track (having dropped to fifth place) with five minutes remaining. The softer tire was the key to a front row, helping him to jump three places up to second, securing his first front row start of the season with a 1’38.425 second lap.
“We are trying to solve every challenge we can to be as competitive as possible,” said Lorenzo. “Today we made a small modification before the qualifying practice that proved to be good. It was better entering the corner and also gave us more traction so I could be a bit faster. I pushed at the maximum with the soft tire to make a fast lap time and was able to make it.”