Marc Marquez takes pole at Phillip Island. Photo: MotoGP
Three rounds to go. Championship leader Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) is at the head of the third row for the Phillip Island race while the only other person who can win the title, Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha), starts from the front row in third place.
It isn’t an unusual position, Rossi’s qualifying for performance this year has been distinctly average. The reaction from Lorenzo over drafting by other riders, with Andrea Innone (Ducati) singled out for a special mention, is perhaps the more telling.
Last time out at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit in Japan the race looked to be over and done in the opening laps. On the wet track Lorenzo had pushed incredibly hard on the opening lap and established enough of a lead to break the tow for anyone following. A truly remarkable opening lap.
The cost though came later in the race when the drying track ate through the wet tyres. Lorenzo was left with a front end that would not bite. Rossi had two tyres with equally less grip, but a better overall balance, which left Danny Perrosa (Honda), who had ridden conservatively for the first half of the race to breeze past the Yamahas to take his first win of the season.
Having extended the points lead to 18 that weekend, Rossi can follow Lorenzo home one place behind for the three remaining races and still take the championship, Perhaps these thoughts are telling on Lorenzo, who seems to be quite agitated over anyone drafting him. It isn’t the most sporting of actions to get yourself dragged around the circuit by a faster rider, and then post the same qualifying time. It has to to be even more irritating when the same rider you dragged around is placed in front of you on the grid thanks to the count back rules (second fastest times).
Out in front of all of this chatter and easily on pole is Marc Marquez (Honda). Shy of the absolute qualifying record by half a second, Marquez is still three tenths ahead of Innone in second and Lorenzo in third.
The 27-lap race which is forecast to be dry and 20 degrees centigrade, starts at 16:00 local time on Sunday, 6am in the UK and 7am in central Europe.