Maverick Vinales bounced back from his Phillip Island nightmare by winning the Malaysian Grand Prix ahead of MotoGP champion Marc Marquez.

Vinales dramatically crashed out of last week's Australian Grand Prix, having been overtaken by in-form star Marquez on the final lap.

But there was no repeat of that late drama in Sepang, where Monster Energy Yamaha rider Vinales crossed the finish line first on Sunday.

A day of redemption and domination from Vinales – who qualified second fastest behind Rookie of the Year Fabio Quartararo – saw him ease to his second win of the season.

While Marquez's winning streak ended at five races, the six-time world champion still produced a remarkable performance, having started from 11th on the grid.

Repsol Honda's Marquez also made history by recording the most points in a single season with 395 following his 22nd successive finish inside the top two.

Andrea Dovizioso of Ducati claimed third for his 101st podium position, while Valentino Rossi secured fourth on a good day for Yamaha.

 

TOP 10

1. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha)
2. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) +3.059s
3. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) +5.611s
4. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha) +5.965s
5. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) +6.350s
6. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha) +9.993
7. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha) +12.864s
8. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) +17.252s
9. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati) +19.773s
10. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) +22.854s

TITLE STANDINGS

Riders

1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) 395
2. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 256 (-139)
3. Maverick Vinales (Yamaha) 201 (-194)
4. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) 194 (-201)
5. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati) 176 (-219)

Teams

1. Ducati 432
2. Repsol Honda 430 (-2)
3. Monster Energy Yamaha 367 (-65)
4. Petronas Yamaha 287 (-145)
5. Suzuki Ecstar 281 (-151)

Fabio Quartararo will hope a rare mistake from in-form Marc Marquez can help him claim a first MotoGP victory at the Malaysian Grand Prix.

In the penultimate race of a 2019 season utterly dominated by six-time world champion Marquez, Quartararo will head Maverick Vinales and Franco Morbidelli in an all-Yamaha front row.

Marquez, meanwhile, will start in 11th position after crashing in Q2, suffering a vicious highside when he sought a tow from Quartararo in a dramatic session.

Jack Miller and Cal Crutchlow are the top Ducati and Honda riders respectively, with Valentino Rossi completing the second row in sixth.

Alex Rins, third in the riders' championship, starts seventh, with Andrea Dovizioso, who is second overall, down in 10th, just one grid spot ahead of Marquez.

Records have tumbled this season as Marquez has 11 wins and five runners-up finishes from 17 races, retiring just once in Austin.

The Repsol Honda star has won five straight going into this race in Malaysia, the home of Quartararo and Morbidelli's Petronas Yamaha team.

But Marquez's qualifying crash gives pole-sitter Quartararo a strong chance to cap a superb first season in the premier class with a maiden race triumph.

Quartararo, who also set two lap records in practice on Friday, has claimed his fifth pole in 2019 but is yet to finish on the top step.

The Frenchman, who this week received confirmation he will ride the factory-spec Yamaha in 2020, said: "We came to Malaysia from a tough weekend in Australia and we've suffered a lot to get to here. 

"But it's the home race for the team and, while they've not put pressure on us, they clearly want us to perform. 

"That makes the pole position very special for me and the double front row even more special for the team. I'm feeling good for the race; like we're ready to go now." 

 

FELLOW YAMAHAS IN THE MIX

Marquez and Dovizioso may still pose a threat from further back on the grid, but even if they do not, Vinales and Morbidelli will provide competition from closer to home, a gap of just 0.129secs having covered the front three.

Vinales is one of only five riders to have won a race this season but crashed out last week in Australia when he looked to be on course for victory before a last-lap duel with Marquez.

Despite his retirement coming when he was going for glory last time out, Vinales has no plans to change his approach.

"I will try to take the lead in the first corner and then I will push at my maximum from the beginning," he said.

"Like I've said before, we have nothing to lose and everything to win, so we're going to push, push, and push, and we'll see."

Morbidelli, meanwhile, has shown strong qualifying pace in the second half of the season but is yet to translate that into a podium finish.

Rossi is also within striking distance, desperate to end a 14-race streak without finishing in the top three. It is also 44 races since he has won, the joint-worst stretch of the 40-year-old's storied career.

 

MARQUEZ EYEING RECORD POINTS HAUL

Marquez's qualifying result was his worst since the Italian Grand Prix back in 2015 but despite that, he will like his chances of breaking another record this weekend.

This time he is looking to get the best points tally in a single MotoGP season. He needs nine points to better the record held by his team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, which is 383 points from the 2010 campaign.

"I'm OK, but of course I'm painful around the body - it was a big crash," Marquez said after qualifying.

"We set up the bike in a way to have the good race rhythm, but we were struggling for one lap pace.

"I just maybe changed [direction] a little bit too aggressive and honestly speaking I'm more disappointed to start 11th than for the crash.

"Yamaha riders, when they have new tyres, are very fast. I was behind Quartararo, he changed direction and I tried to copy. But I just flew.

"We will see what we can do. From 11th it will be difficult, even if we did have a good rhythm in FP4."

If Marquez can recover to make the podium, it will be his 17th top-three finish of the season, topping his previous best haul of 16.

THE GRID

1. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha)
2. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha)
3. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha)
4. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing)
5. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda)
6. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha)
7. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar)
8. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati)
9. Johann Zarco (LCR Honda)
10. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati)
11. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda)
12. Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing)

PREVIOUS WINNERS

2018: Marc Marquez
2017: Andrea Dovizioso
2016: Andrea Dovizioso
2015: Dani Pedrosa

TITLE STANDINGS

Riders

1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) 375
2. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 240 (-135)
3. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) 183 (-192)
4. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) 176 (-199)
5. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati) 169 (-206)

Teams

1. Ducati 409
2. Repsol Honda 408 (-1)
3. Monster Energy Yamaha 329 (-80)
4. Petronas Yamaha 268 (-141)
5. Suzuki Ecstar 264 (-145)

WEATHER FORECAST

Sunday's race will be hot – with temperatures at around 30 degrees Celcius – and humid. The unknown is whether it will be a dry race, with the present chance of rain rated at around 25 per cent, but changing regularly.

Fabio Quartararo stormed to pole as Yamaha locked out the front row while Marc Marquez will start the Malaysian MotoGP in 11th after crashing on Saturday.

Quartararo said Petronas Yamaha SR would need to go even quicker in qualifying for their home race after twice smashing the lap record during practice in Sepang on Friday.

The Frenchman duly took first place on the grid ahead of Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), with Quartararo's team-mate Franco Morbidelli taking third place.

Quartararo clocked a sensational one minute 58.303 seconds on his last qualifying lap to take pole.

Marquez suffered a massive highside at Turn 2 in the second qualifying session when hunting 20-year-old rookie Quartararo for a tow.

The world champion was able to pick himself up after that dramatic smash, but will have to come from a long way back on Sunday.

Jack Miller heads up the second row ahead of Cal Crutchlow, quickest in Q1, and Valentino Rossi. 

Andrea Dovizioso could only qualify in 10th spot as Quartararo celebrated his fifth pole of the season.

 

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SR): 1:58.303
2. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) +0.103s
3. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha): +0.129s
4. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing): +0.422s
5. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda): +0.648s
6. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha): +0.697s
7. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar): +0.787s
8. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati): +0.794s
9. Johann Zarco (LCR Honda): +0.836s
10. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati): +0.870s
11. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda): +0.875s
12. Franesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing): +1.337s

Fabio Quartararo twice smashed the lap record in practice for Petronas Yamaha SRT's home race but says he will need to go even faster in qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix if the rain stays away.

Quartararo set a new quickest circuit of one minute 59.057 seconds in FP1 on soft tyres in Sepang on Friday – then bettered that time with a 1:58.576s lap in the second session.

The Frenchman's team-mate Franco Morbidelli was second-fastest, with Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso in third following two dry sessions.

Quartararo said a dream start will count for nothing if Petronas Yamaha are unable to deliver when it really matters.

"It is only Friday so for sure in qualifying - if it's good weather – we will need to be [faster] again to make the front row. I'm happy to do the lap record, but it will be better to do in qualifying and then fight for the race," he said.

"Phillip Island was really tough and did not go like we expect; two crashes, one on Friday and another at the beginning of the race, so we arrived here with not a lot of confidence, but we already made first in the morning and then the afternoon also.

"The confidence came back, which is good for tomorrow."

The 20-year-old added: "I think we need to be smooth with this bike, but there is a balance between really smooth and aggressive. We need to find the right balance to suit the Yamaha and I think we did it."

World champion Marc Marquez finished FP2 in sixth position following an issue with his bike in the first session.

Maverick Vinales declared it was "victory or nothing" for him at the Australian Grand Prix after crashing out on the final lap of a Phillip Island thriller on Sunday.

The Monster Energy Yamaha rider dropped back to sixth place after starting on pole but worked his way back to the front.

Vinales looked set for a repeat of his win in the race last year, but dominant champion Marc Marquez overtook him on the last lap as they fought it out in a dramatic finale.

It was Marquez who took the chequered flag yet again after Vinales ended up in the gravel at Turn 10, having lost control as he strived to pass his fellow Spaniard.

Vinales had no regrets at the end of a race that promised so much for him.

"Well actually I'm very happy because I gave my best every lap, every single lap," Vinales said.

"But for sure we have things to improve – you could see [that] in the race on the TV. So, we need to keep working, keep improving the bike. I think we have very positive points and some that we have to improve but, as a rider, I gave my best.

"If not there, the crash was 10 metres later because I already attacked to go in, so it was there or later. I tried my best. When you try your best… okay, for me today, it was victory or nothing. I think it was the best."

Vinales, seven points behind third-place Alex Rins in the MotoGP driver standings, is confident he can mount another strong challenge at the Malaysian Grand Prix next weekend. 

"Sepang is a track that I really like. Here the feelings were very positive. I rode fast in all the areas, especially on the race pace we were very fast," he said.

"We need to keep working. For sure it won't be easy in Sepang because of the long straights. But we'll keep working and we'll be there for sure. We're really motivated as always."

Marc Marquez said he slow-cooked victory after defying Maverick Vinales in a final-lap Australian Grand Prix thriller as he surpassed Mick Doohan.

MotoGP champion Marquez extended his winning streak to five races after overtaking Monster Energy Yamaha rival Vinales on the final lap at Phillip Island on Sunday.

Vinales, who was quickest throughout the weekend, secured pole position and appeared on track for back-to-back victories in Australia until he was leapfrogged by Marquez.

Repsol Honda's Marquez sensationally moved ahead of Vinales, who then lost control and crashed out as the Spaniard desperately tried to reclaim the lead.

"Today the fastest guy was Maverick," Marquez told MotoGP afterwards. "I knew before the race it was crucial in the last five or six laps… But I was able to follow him to the limit and I keep pushing.

"I start cooking, cooking the victory, try to analyse and check the tyres. Even like this, I was still not 100 per cent sure because he was very fast. Both of us were finished with the tyres. But I try to overtake him on the straight, where I had a small advantage. All sector two and three, he was incredibly fast. I was just sliding more but able to survive.

"Sometimes the fastest bike doesn't always win," Marquez added.

Marquez moved above Doohan for the third-most premier-class wins by celebrating his 55th career victory, having equalled the Australian's total during his comfortable Japanese GP triumph last week.

It also saw Marquez become the most successful Honda rider and the six-time world champion said: "It's some very special. To be the most successful rider for Honda and moving ahead of Doohan, incredible. Especially Doohan, he is the first rider I have in my memory.

"But I don't want to think a lot about it, we just keep going. I feel really good with Honda. We need to enjoy this sweet moment, we don't have the future in our hands."

MotoGP champion Marc Marquez extended his winning streak after claiming a dramatic victory over Maverick Vinales on the final lap at the Australian Grand Prix.

Vinales had been the man to beat throughout the weekend in Australia, where the Monster Energy Yamaha rider earned pole position after qualifying was pushed back to race day due to adverse weather conditions on Saturday.

Last year's Australian champion Vinales – at the front of the pack having pulled clear with 18 laps remaining – appeared on track for back-to-back Phillip Island victories until he was overtaken by world champion Marquez at the death.

Marquez sensationally moved ahead of Vinales, who then lost control and crashed out as the Spaniard desperately tried to reclaim the lead on Sunday.

It continued Marquez's dominance, with the Repsol Honda star and six-time world champion recording his fifth consecutive victory in a classic finale.

Marquez also surpassed Mick Doohan for the third most premier-class wins by celebrating his 55th, having equalled the Australian's total during his comfortable Japanese GP triumph last week.

Cal Crutchlow finished second, while home star Jack Miller was promoted to third as he secured the first Australian premier-class podium since Casey Stoner in 2012.

Valentino Rossi – a five-time MotoGP winner in Australia who qualified fourth fastest – finished eighth on a disappointing day for Yamaha.

MotoGP riders will race just three hours after qualifying on Sunday at an Australian Grand Prix that has been hit by adverse weather conditions.

Saturday's qualifying session was postponed by a day after strong winds and rain in FP4, when KTM's Miguel Oliveira was blown off track, meant organisers declared conditions unsafe.

That halted the momentum of Monster Energy Yamaha's Maverick Vinales, who sat at the top of the timesheets after the first three Phillip Island practice sessions.

One consolation for the Spaniard is that if qualifying is not able to be run, practice times will be used to determine the grid order.

Vinales' FP2 effort of one minute and 28.824 seconds put him half a second clear of Andrea Dovizioso, Cal Crutchlow, Danilo Petrucci and Jack Miller.

Level on points with Alex Rins in the battle for third in the championship, Vinales loves racing in Australia. He has finished on the podium for each of the last three years, including his win in last year's event.

Marc Marquez, who has already sealed the 2019 riders' title, and Valentino Rossi were down in sixth and seventh positions respectively, closely followed by Rins.

In-form Fabio Quartararo had to sit out FP2 due to a crash in FP1 that led to him being taken to the medical centre.

Though the Rookie of the Year winner – who collected his sixth podium of the season in Japan last time out - avoided a left leg fracture, he will continue to receive treatment for a haematoma in his ankle.

Due to FP3 taking place in poor conditions, Quartararo could not match the Friday times of the other top riders and will have to progress through Q1 if qualifying goes ahead.


CRUTCHLOW BACKS QUALIFYING CALL

Crutchlow was among the riders in agreement with the decision to postpone qualifying.

"These decisions don't get taken lightly and I think we made the correct decision not to ride," the British LCR Honda rider said.

"The conditions for our bikes were horrendous. Moto2 went out in front of us and they had not as many problems, but people seem to forget they've got half the horsepower that we've got.

"Some people wanted to ride, some people didn't. It's as simple as that. If we all went out and something would have happened, I think we would have all looked like idiots and that's the reality.

"You saw what happened to Miguel. I was behind him coming down the straight, so I saw first-hand how easily you can fly off track.

"To me it was bad. Some guys think it was rideable, but I didn't and I'm a guy who will always take a risk."

MARQUEZ NEARING PEAK SEASON

With three races to go, Marquez is looking to complete an historic season.

Leading Dovizioso by 119 points after recording his fourth straight race win in Japan, he already has 10 poles and 10 victories in 2019.

This is only the second time in his MotoGP career he has reached double figures in both categories. The other was when he got 13 of each back in 2014, tallies that he can still match.

The Repsol Honda star is also eyeing his 15th podium of the season, which would equal his best career tally. He landed 15 in 2013 and would have two races in Malaysia and Valencia to go better still if he succeeds in making the top three here.

MILESTONE FOR ROSSI

Valentino Rossi, who is looking to bounce back after crashing out at Motegi, will make his 400th grand prix start.

The Italian said earlier this week: "It is good to make the 400 here in Phillip Island as it is an iconic place for MotoGP and all the riders love the circuit because it is something special compared to the rest. It is one of the best places.

"I didn't know what to expect when I started my career. When I was 17 you see a guy that is 25 years old and it felt like your grandfather! Now I am 40, imagine!"

Rossi has won six times at the circuit in the premier class and twice more in 250cc. The veteran could do with drawing on those positive memories after a season that has fallen well short of expectations.

Since a second-place finish in Austin back in April, he has gone 13 races without reaching the podium and retired on four occasions.

PREVIOUS WINNERS

2018: Maverick Vinales
2017: Marc Marquez
2016: Cal Crutchlow
2015: Marc Marquez

TITLE STANDINGS

Riders

1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) 350
2. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 231 (-119)
3. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) 176 (-174)
4. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) 176 (-174)
5. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati) 169 (-181)

Teams

1. Ducati 400
2. Repsol Honda 383 (-17)
3. Monster Energy Yamaha 321 (-79)
4. Petronas Yamaha 263 (-137)
5. Suzuki Ecstar 246 (-154)

WEATHER FORECAST

Riders will be watching the weather right up until the race starts as there is a chance of showers striking. Even if the event is a dry one, high winds are highly likely to be a factor to contend with.

Fabio Quartararo is ready to return to Australian Grand Prix action on Saturday after sitting out FP2 on Friday due to a crash in the opening session.

Petronas Yamaha rider Quartararo was taken to the medical centre at Phillip Island after a highside in FP1, with the painkillers he was administered forcing him to remain in the garage for the rest of the day.

X-rays revealed no fractures in his left leg, but the 2019 MotoGP Rookie of the Year will continue to receive treatment for a hematoma in his ankle and is subject to further assessment.

Quartararo posted a picture of himself on Twitter with the caption: "After this morning's crash, resting to swap the crutches for the M1 again tomorrow!"

In a statement on the MotoGP website, medical director Angel Charte said: "We submitted [Quartararo] to an exhaustive medical examination on the left ankle area, which is what he complained about most, and the footage looked like where he had the impact in quite a violent way.

"The conventional X-rays don't show any fracture to neither the tibia, nor the fibula or to the bones of the left foot. It's true that he has a big hematoma and bruising on the top of the foot and we've given him anti-inflammatories as well as cryotherapy and a more intensive treatment to bring down the pain.

"The rider is fit but we're going to monitor him day-to-day or hour-to-hour to see if it's recommendable that he goes out to ride or not."

Marc Marquez criticised Jorge Lorenzo for taking up the racing line in "slow mode" after the two made contact at the end of FP2 at the Australian Grand Prix on Friday.

The Repsol Honda team-mates were close to crashing when Marquez made a final push to guarantee a top-10 spot in what is expected to be the only dry practice session and thus boost his chances of going straight into Q2.

Lorenzo hugged the inside of turn 11, forcing the newly crowned six-time MotoGP champion to take a wider line. The pair touched and one of the wings flew off Lorenzo's bike.

Marquez made a sleeping gesture to his fellow Spaniard when they stopped on the track at the end of the session and then shook his head. However, he assured there were no issues between the two.

The 26-year-old said: "Of course, in the first moment I was upset because now we cannot forget that free practice means qualifying practice, I mean you need to go directly into Qualifying 2 and the forecast for tomorrow looks like rain 100 per cent.

"So it was my last chance, I was on a very fast lap and I tried to overtake him in the best way for me to not lose time. But we need to pay attention, because we cannot ride in a slow mode in the middle of the line.

"Of course, he will say there was no space. But you need to check behind, you need to understand and be out of the racing line. Apart from that, I was angry at first, but then I was in his office and we speak together. No problem."

Lorenzo said: "Unfortunately, right at the end I didn't look back to see I had three or four riders behind me, I tried to be as far on the inside as possible but Marc and I were a little too close."

Marquez ended the day sixth fastest, with Lorenzo down in 16th, although the reigning champion was quickest in a tyre test session that saw him make a phenomenal save from a 70.8 degree lean angle.

Maverick Vinales posted the fastest free practice time of one minute and 28.824 seconds, 0.496 seconds quicker than Andrea Dovizioso who took second ahead of Cal Crutchlow.

Danilo Petrucci and home favourite Jack Miller with fourth and fifth respectively.

Seven-time MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi is delighted to have the chance to make his 400th grand prix start at Phillip Island.

Rossi is set to become the first rider in history to reach the milestone at this weekend's Australian Grand Prix and the Monster Energy Yamaha star was in a reflective mood.

The Italian, who has claimed nine titles across all classes, has taken part in 42.5 per cent of all motorcycle grand prix events since the start of the world championship in 1949, scoring points in 353 of his 399 starts.

"It's been a long, long time," said Rossi. "It's something you don't expect, especially when I was young, but in my career I've never had a clear idea of what will happen or how long I have to race.

"When I was 17 you see a guy that is 25 years old and it felt like your grandfather! Now I am 40, imagine!

"It's a good achievement because I didn't know what to expect when I started my career.

"It is good to make the 400 here in Phillip Island as it is an iconic place for MotoGP and all the riders love the circuit because it is something special compared to the rest. It is one of the best places."

While the riders got to enjoy the sun around media activities on Thursday, rain is forecast for when they take to the track across the weekend.

"We pray, everybody prays, for the weekend weather to be like this with the blue sky and fantastic temperature," said Rossi.

"Unfortunately, the good weather has arrived a little bit too much in anticipation of the weekend so we will have to fight with difficult conditions at Phillip Island. Anyway, it is always a pleasure."

Valentino Rossi will be hoping to create more fond Phillip Island memories this weekend after crashing out of the Japanese Grand Prix.

Rossi said he had "pain everywhere" after the Italian highsided his Yamaha at Motegi last time out.

It was the fourth time this season the 40-year-old had to retire from a race, so he is in need of a lift at the Australian MotoGP.

Rossi will be riding in his 400th grand prix on Sunday and six of his 115 wins have come in Australia.

Marc Marquez, with the title already retained, stretched his winning run to four in Japan and it would be a surprise if Rossi is the man to bring that streak to an end.

We pick out some standout Opta numbers ahead of Rossi's milestone race.

 

- No MotoGP rider has won the Australian Grand Prix more than Rossi and Casey Stoner's tally of six in 500cc/MotoGP.

- No rider has finished on the podium in the race more times than Rossi's 15. Stoner is next on the list with six.

- Spaniards Márquez (two), Jorge Lorenzo, and Maverick Vinales have won four of the last six MotoGP Australian Grands Prix.

- Marquez has reached double figures in wins (10) and poles (10) this year. He had only previously brought up double figures in both back in 2014 - with 13 wins and as many poles.

- Marquez has finished on the podium 15 times this season, just one shy of his best tally in a single MotoGP season in 2013.

- Vinales has finished on the podium in his last three Australian MotoGP appearances (third in 2016 and 2017, winner last year).

Marc Marquez revelled in the "special" feeling of equalling Mick Doohan's "incredible" mark of victories in the premier class and is excited for the challenge awaiting him at the Australian Grand Prix.

Repsol Honda star Marquez triumphed in Japan last time out to win for a 54th time in MotoGP and he can move past the Australian outright at Phillip Island on Sunday.

With Marquez having wrapped up the riders' championship in Thailand this month, breaking Doohan's mark to go third in the all-time list would be a continuation of a memorable 2019 season.

It would leave only Valentino Rossi and Giacomo Agostini ahead of the six-time MotoGP champion.

"We approach the whole event with the same mentality," he said in quotes reported on Honda's official website. 

"Mick Doohan is one of the first names in my memory, Doohan versus [Alex] Criville on the 500cc, so to equal his incredible numbers is special for me."

Marquez is a two-time winner in Australia, though Maverick Vinales came out on top last time.

A fifth straight race win is not something Marquez is expecting to come easy.

He added: "It's one of my favourite tracks, Phillip Island, I really enjoy riding there a lot – especially the left corners!

"But it's a circuit where many others, and especially Yamaha can be strong. Normally we have a lot of competition there and it will be a challenge as always. 

"Our target is of course to try to win, but once the weekend begins, we will see where we are and assess the situation."

World champion Marc Marquez equalled Mick Doohan with his 54th career MotoGP victory after winning the Japanese Grand Prix.

Marquez was scintillating as the six-time MotoGP champion cruised to his 10th victory of 2019 at Motegi on Sunday, with Repsol Honda sealing the constructors title.

The Honda star was scorching on the track, blitzing Fabio Quartararo to move level with Doohan in third on the all-time list for MotoGP wins.

After wrapping up another premier class title in Thailand last time out, Marquez made history by claiming pole position at Motegi, meaning he had earned pole at every circuit on the sport's calendar.

It was an exhibition for Marquez, who left the chasing pack in his wake and sealed a 21st successive finish inside the top-two positions.

Quartararo finished nine tenths adrift to be Marquez's nearest challenger as the Yamaha rider clinched the Rookie of the Year.

"It was not easy, especially because I was pushing from the beginning, because the strategy was clear - I tried to open a gap in the beginning because I felt very strong in the warm-up," Marquez said after celebrating his fourth successive victory.

"Honestly speaking I start to play a lot with the switches and everything, because like you see [he parked right after the chequered flag], with the fuel and everything I was on the limit. When I take these two seconds, I start to play again with the switches.

"Was not easy to ride because you needed to think many, many things on the bike, but I was able to manage in a good way to finish the race [within] the limit."

Andrea Dovizioso earned his 100th podium, while it was a miserable outing for Valentino Rossi – who did not finish the race.

 

TOP 10

1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda)
2. Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) +0.870secs
3. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) +1.325s
4. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) +2.608s
5. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) +9.140s
6. Franco Morbidelli (Yamaha) +9.187s
7. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) +9.306s
8. Joar Mir (Suzuku Ecstar) +10.695s
9. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati) +14.216s
10. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) +18.909s

TITLE STANDINGS

Riders

1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) 350
2. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 231 (-119)
3. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) 176 (-174)
4. Maverick Vinales (Yamaha) 176 (-174)
5. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati) 169 (-181)

Teams

1. Ducati 400
2. Repsol Honda 383 (-17)
3. Monster Energy Yamaha 321 (-79)
4. Petronas Yamaha 263 (-137)
5. Suzuki Ecstar 246 (-154)

Marc Marquez made history in qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix and now he has another milestone in his sights on race day.

The world champion, who sealed his sixth premier class title with a win in Thailand last time out, claimed his first Motegi pole to ensure he has now started at the front of the grid at every circuit on the MotoGP calendar.

If Marquez can follow that up with a 10th victory of 2019 on Sunday, it would see him move level with Mick Doohan on 54 total MotoGP wins in third on the all-time list.

He is also eyeing a fourth consecutive race triumph for the first time since 2014 and, if he makes a 13th straight podium, it will mark his best-ever run.

"To get a first pole position on the MotoGP bike in Motegi is great," said Marquez, who has won this race in two of the past three years.

"I didn't know it was the last one I needed! It's a circuit where I usually struggle at a bit but the set-up was working very well in qualifying and I was able to ride in a different way. It's important to start on pole at the home of Honda. 

"On Sunday we will have a lot of pressure from Yamaha and Andrea Dovizioso, I think, so we still need to work a bit in warm up. The target is to fight for the victory, let's see what the conditions are."

Marquez's team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, meanwhile, will start his 200th MotoGP race down in 19th position.

YAMAHAS POSE FAMILIAR THREAT

Franco Morbidelli out-qualified Fabio Quartararo as the two Petronas Yamaha bikes joined Marquez on the front row.

Morbidelli equalled his best qualifying performance from Jerez this year and will be hoping to improve on his eventual seventh place finish there as he continues to show good speed towards the end of 2019.

His team-mate Quartararo has only missed the front row at three races this year and was cruelly denied a maiden win by Marquez in Thailand, instead having to settle for a fifth podium of an excellent rookie campaign.

Maverick Vinales heads the second row to ensure there are three Yamahas in the top four for fourth time this year, with the manufacturer looking well placed to seal a first Japan podium since 2015, despite Valentino Rossi coming 10th.

"I wasn't expecting to be that fast," conceded Morbidelli, who was just 0.132secs behind Marquez.

"We definitely did a great job on Friday in dry conditions and again here with half and half [conditions] we were fast. We will have to see how competitive we will be in completely dry conditions."

Frenchman Quartararo does not want his quest for a maiden win to become a distraction.

"I'm not really focused on it," he said. "I just focus on making a good race and fighting for the victory. I don't want to only focus on the victory.

"We need to make a good start, that's the most important, and then let's see what we can do in the race. Honestly I feel good."

CRUTCHLOW PIPS THE DUCATIS

Cal Crutchlow came through Q1 and then claimed fifth, as he looks to follow up on last season's Motegi podium.

The Briton, who has endured a mixed season, said: "That's always the aim, but I don't know whether I'm going to be on the podium or 15th, I have no idea at the minute."

Jack Miller has not scored a point in his previous two races in Japan, but is the top Ducati ahead of factory duo Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci.

Dovizioso, who starts seventh, won the race in 2017 from even further back in the grid (ninth). The Italian is seeking his 100th podium across all categories.

"There were still some damp patches on the track and I wasn't able to have a really fluid riding style there," he said. "It's a pity about the third row, but we are in quite good shape for the race."

Alex Rins sits third in the championship behind Dovizioso and starts 11th, while Takaaki Nakagami will begin his home race from 13th.


THE GRID

1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda)
2. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha)
3. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha)
4. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha)
5. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda)
6. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing)
7. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati)
8. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati)
9. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team)
10. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha)
11. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar)
12. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar)

PREVIOUS WINNERS

2018: Marc Marquez
2017: Andrea Dovizioso
2016 : Marc Marquez
2015: Dani Pedrosa

TITLE STANDINGS

Riders

1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) 325
2. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 215 (110)
3. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) 167 (-158)
4. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) 163 (-162)
5. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati) 162 (-163)

Teams

1. Ducati 377
2. Repsol Honda 358 (-19)
3. Monster Energy Yamaha 308 (-69)
4. Petronas Yamaha 233 (-144)
5. Suzuki Ecstar 229 (-148)

WEATHER FORECAST

After a wet FP3 and damp FP4, conditions largely cleared for qualifying on Saturday. Sunday's forecast is presently for a dry and cloudy day, with temperatures reaching 25 degrees Celcius.

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