Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) secured a seventh straight pole position at the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas after setting a 2:03.787, but the King of COTA has company: Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) is only a couple of tenths in arrears in second, with Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) completing the front row in Texas. The mission for those just behind the reigning Champion is simple: stop Marquez.
After inclement weather throughout the morning in Austin and FP3s getting cancelled, it was thankfully back to beautiful blue skies above the Circuit of the Americas for qualifying. Normal service was resumed at the beginning of Q2 as Marquez took to the top and slammed in a 2:03.787 straight out the gate, chasing down teammate Jorge Lorenzo – who topped the timesheets in Q1 – to put in the best time of the weekend, but drama was about to hit the number 99’s side of the box. A mechanical issue left Lorenzo parking his Honda near the end of pitlane in a scene reminiscent of his teammate’s antics at the track a few years ago as he ran back to the garage.
Marquez’ time seemed well out of reach initially, meanwhile, as Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) was a full two seconds back before his teammate Rossi jumped up to second, 0.733 off. No one could get closer than that to Marquez after the first runs, with Rossi emerging as best of the rest ahead of Jack Miller (Pramac Racing), Viñales, Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Crutchlow. But there was more to come.
Second time lucky it wasn’t for the reigning Champion, with Marquez unable to better his time but the rest inching closer and the possibility seemingly so close. Closest of all was Rossi, who managed to cut the gap to under three tenths, with Crutchlow then taking over in third but less than a tenth off the ‘Doctor’.
Miller heads up Row 2 as he took top Ducati honours in P4, with another spectacular performance just behind the Australian in fifth: a certain Pol Espargaro, who took the best result for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing in the premier class. Just 0.685 from pole, the Spaniard was visibly delighted crossing the line. Viñales, meanwhile, improved on his last lap to grab a second row start in P6, and he’ll be aiming for a lightning start on Sunday.
Rins starts seventh to make it five manufacturers in the top seven, ahead of Danilo Petrucci (Mission Winnow Ducati) in P8 after the Italian made it through Q1 alongside the aforementioned Lorenzo. One key name who lost out to the two men was Andrea Dovizioso (Mission Winnow Ducati), and the Championship contender faces a fight back from P13 on race day. Can he limit the damage from there?
Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) locks out Row 3 as he was the fastest rookie for a clean sweep with that honour so far this season; the Frenchman getting the better of teammate Franco Morbidelli, who took tenth. After progressing through Q1, Lorenzo will lineup in P11 for Sunday’s race, with second rookie Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) twelfth in his first Q2 session despite crashing unhurt at Turn 1.
Dovi on the fight back, rival Marquez at the front and the ‘Doctor’ poised to attack from right alongside…it’s set up to make a stunner of a race on Sunday. Don’t miss the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas as the lights go out for the premier class at 14:00 (GMT -5).
1 – Marc Marquez (SPA) 2’03.787
2 – Valentino Rossi (ITA) +0.273
3 – Cal Crutchlow (GBR) +0.360
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