Marc Marquez has been labelled "Houdini" by Cal Crutchlow after romping to a record MotoGP pole position at the Austrian Grand Prix.

The Repsol Honda star, a five-time world champion and leader of the 2019 standings, claimed his 59th career pole on Saturday and third in a row, his latest effort sealing the outright record in the premier class.

Marquez moved clear of Mick Doohan, whose total of 58 he had matched last week, with a stunning lap of 1:23.027, which was 0.434seconds clear of Fabio Quartararo in second.

"From my eyes, Marc's got a trick everywhere," LCR Honda's Crutchlow, who qualified ninth in Spielberg, told reporters per Motorsport. "He's like f*****g Houdini. He just vanishes in thin air - you see him one minute and he's gone the next.

"It's not like he has a trick in one sector, I think he has a trick in all the sectors. He's riding amazing, it's as simple as that."

Briton Crutchlow feels it is hard for riders to explain the brilliance of the rival they are trying to catch in Marquez.

He added: "Even as a rider, you can't give this guy enough credit. What he's doing, with the bike that he has, is something very, very special.

"It's clear he has an advantage over everyone else - but why, I have no idea. If I could go as fast as him, I would. 

"What he's doing different is nearly every corner, every braking, every acceleration. The laptime I did in qualifying, he did about 15 of them this morning [in FP3].

"But he's not just making me look average - if you put most of the other guys on my bike, they're not going to be as fast as I am. Everyone's trying their best, trying to match him - especially me because I'm on the same manufacturer - but at the moment it's not possible."

The Red Bull Ring is the only circuit where Marquez is yet to register a MotoGP win, Ducati having won in each of the last three years. It is a stat the in-form Spaniard is desperate to end on Sunday.

Marquez said: "When I saw the gap, I was surprised because I expected that everybody would be a little bit faster or closer.

"The track was very slippery in FP4 and qualifying. When it is slippery it is one of my strong points. I am able to stop the bike by sliding with both wheels and then I can brake later than the others sometimes. 

"It was a really good lap but I was looking for the 1:22! But I did a mistake in the last sector and I went too wide in turn 10. Apart from that we had a great rhythm. It was a great day, everything and everyone in the team was working so well. 

"We just need to understand the best tyre for Sunday. We know the race pace is not a four-tenths [advantage], it is much closer. We will try to fight until the end and see what happens."

Marc Marquez claimed a record 59th premier class pole at the Austrian Grand Prix, but Andrea Dovizioso believes he is still in the picture.

Reigning MotoGP champion and 2019 leader Marquez set himself up for another successful weekend with a fastest time of 1:23.027 in qualifying.

Dovizioso, third on the grid, acknowledged the Spaniard is "so fast" but insists he will fight Marquez all the way on Sunday.

"We work really hard for the race, we are quite consistent, but Marc is so fast with every tyre, in every practice," Dovizioso told a news conference.

"But we are there. We work so hard and I think we are ready to fight. There are still some things that I can prove and that's a positive.

"We'll see the conditions and we also have the warm-up to be working on that."

Marquez delighted in his performance on Saturday but similarly acknowledged Dovizioso could yet come back on race day.

"Already, before, I saw that it was maybe possible [to get one minute and] 22 [seconds], but in the end 23.0 is a good lap," Marquez said.

"Most important is that we feel good on the bike and the confidence is really high. All weekend with the Repsol Honda team, we've worked in the best way with the correct steps.

"But tomorrow the most important day is coming and this guy on my left [Dovizioso] is not far away. He is consistent and, especially with the used tyre, he has a good pace."
 

'TOUGHEST RACE OF THE SEASON'

Fabio Quartararo, rather than Dovizioso, was closest to Marquez's time, but the qualifying specialist was less confident of a genuine race challenge.

"Normally I always set myself a goal in terms of position, but I think this race will be the toughest one of the season," Quartararo said.

"This is a track that, for Yamaha, does not suit us really well. But tomorrow is a race where we need to learn from the riders, take experience here from a track where we need to manage the tyres at the begininning of the race.

"We will give 100 per cent and enjoy the race."


THE GRID

1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda)
2. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha)
3. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati)
4. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha)
5. Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing)
6. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda)
7. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar)
8. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing)
9. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda)
10. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha)
11. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)
12. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati)

PREVIOUS WINNERS

2018: Jorge Lorenzo
2017: Andrea Dovizioso
2016: Andrea Iannone

TITLE STANDINGS

Riders

1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) 210
2. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 147 (-63)
3. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati) 129 (-81)
4. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) 114 (-96)
5. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) 91 (-119)

Teams

1. Repsol Honda 216
2. Ducati 177 (-39)
3. Monster Energy Yamaha 163 (-53)
4. Suzuki Ecstar 131 (-85)
5. KTM 61 (-155)

WEATHER FORECAST

Light showers are anticipated in Spielberg on Sunday morning, but the track may well dry out by the time Marquez and his rivals are in action, giving the pole-sitter the opportunity to ride to an uneventful victory.

Marc Marquez claimed a record-breaking MotoGP pole position at the Austrian Grand Prix to continue his sensational run of form.

The five-time world champion and 2019 standings leader claimed his 59th premier class pole on Saturday, giving him the record outright having equalled Mick Doohan's mark last week.

Marquez obliterated the field in Spielberg, his time of 1:23.027 topping qualifying specialist Fabio Quartararo by 0.434 seconds on Saturday.

It is the Repsol Honda rider's third pole in a row and seventh of the season. He will now seek a race victory at the Red Bull Ring, the only circuit he is yet to win at in his MotoGP career.

Andrea Dovizioso completes the front row after taking third for Ducati, who have won this race in each of the last three years.

Monster Energy Yamaha's Maverick Vinales came fourth, with Francesco Bagnaia of Pramac Racing and LCR Honda's Takaaki Nakagami impressing to join him on the second row.

Alex Rins, Jack Miller and Cal Crutchlow are on row three, with Valentino Rossi 0.790s off the pace in 10th.

Danilo Petrucci will start 12th behind Pol Espargaro after a Q2 crash ended his hopes of moving up the grid.

Marquez had earlier dominated practice and ended FP3 with an advantage of over three tenths on the other big names to move straight into Q2.

Crutchlow and Bagnaia emerged at the top of the Q1 timesheets to join the top 10 in Q2, while Franco Morbidelli – who will start 14th – was among the riders to miss out on the second session.


PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda): 1:23.027
2. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha): +0.434s
3. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati): +0.488s
4. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha): +0.496s
5. Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing): +0.625s
6. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda): +0.642s
7. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar): +0.654s
8. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing): +0.661s
9. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda): +0.727s
10. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha): +0.790s
11. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing): +0.839s
12. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati): +0.937s

Marc Marquez set the pace on day one of practice for the Austrian MotoGP and Andrea Dovizioso suffered a rare crash pushing for quick time late in FP2.

Dovizioso went quickest in the opening session at the Red Bull Ring on Friday, but the championship leader hit back to top the timesheets.

Italian Dovizioso pipped the Spaniard in FP1 before the Repsol Honda rider turned the tables on his nearest rival with a lap of one minute and 23.916 seconds.

That gave Marquez an advantage of 0.066 over compatriot Maverick Vinales, with Ducati's Dovizioso 0.117 adrift of the three-time defending champion in in Spielberg.

Dovizioso found himself on the deck as he strived to go top of the timesheets, losing control at Turn 3 in the first red sector.

Takaaki Nakagami moved up from ninth in the first session to fourth ahead of Fabio Quartararo and Jack Miller.

Miguel Oliveira, Danilo Petrucci, Cal Crutchlow and Pol Espargaro rounded off the top 10.

Jack Miller believes there is some truth to rumours he could lose his MotoGP ride for 2020 to Jorge Lorenzo.

Australian Miller competes for Ducati satellite team Pramac Racing and sits seventh in the riders' standings heading into this weekend's Austrian Grand Prix.

Despite two podium finishes this season and numerous discussions with the team, however, he has yet to be offered a contract.

Three-time MotoGP champion Lorenzo has been linked with a return to Ducati after a dismal start to his campaign with Repsol Honda, and, with Danilo Petrucci and Andrea Dovizioso locked in for the factory team next season, Miller is feeling the uncertainty.

"I think there is some truth to the rumours about Lorenzo," Miller said on Thursday at the Red Bull Ring.

"For sure, he's looking at something because at the moment he's got nothing. He can't ride that Honda. So it's easy to tuck your tail between your legs and run back.

"I think that Pramac love me, want to keep me, most people in Ducati want to keep me. [But] I've got to make sense of why we're in Austria - quite well into the second half of the season and I've two podiums under my belt - and I've still not signed a contract.

"Most of the [contract] details have been sorted, Pramac has agreed to everything they've been asked to agree to, but still no contract has arrived.

"We'll wait and see and all I can do is keep doing my best. This is my first year on the latest material in MotoGP and this is the most competitive era it's ever been in and I've scored two podiums and been in front of those [top] guys on multiple occasions.

"I feel that I've been doing everything I can do in order get myself a job. I'm not stressed at all."

Joan Mir will miss the Austrian MotoGP this weekend following his high-speed crash during testing in Brno.

The Team Suzuki Ecstar rider was flown to Brno Hospital in a helicopter on Monday after an accident at the Automotodrom Brno.

Mir suffered a pulmonary contusion and was kept in hospital under observation.

The Spaniard will not be risked in Spielberg, so Alex Rins will be the only Suzuki rider to race in round 11.

Mir is expected to return in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone later this month.

Team manager Davide Brivio told the Suzuki Ecstar website: "It's a pity that Joan cannot take part in this next round in Austria, but the most important thing is that he recovers in the proper way."

Marc Marquez has six MotoGP wins this season and has triumphed in the past two races from pole, but his record at this weekend's event is less impressive.

The Austrian Grand Prix has proven tricky for Marquez. He is yet to win at the Red Bull Ring and has been forced to settle for second-place in each of the past two years.

Ducati have fared well in Spielberg, although star rider Andrea Dovizioso has also been frustrated of late.

With the help of Opta we look at some of the best stats heading into the race.

 

3 - Three different Ducati riders have won the Austrian GP since its return to the championship after an 18-year absence (Andrea Ianonne in 2016, Dovizioso in 2017 and Jorge Lorenzo in 2018).

0 - The Red Bull Ring is the only circuit where Marquez has not won in the premier class.

1 - Dovizioso is the only rider to finish on the podium in each of the three races since the Austrian GP returned to the MotoGP calendar in 2016 (second in 2016, first in 2017, third in 2018).

110 - Ianonne's win in 2016 remains his only victory in the top category in 110 appearances.

8 - Eight of the 10 grands prix this season have been won by Spanish riders: Marquez (six), Alex Rins and Maverick Vinales.

9 - Dovizioso has failed to win any of his past nine races, his worst run since his first MotoGP victory for Ducati (Malaysia in 2016).

198 - Valentino Rossi is two top-three finishes away from becoming the first rider to record 200 podiums in the premier class.

10 - The Red Bull Ring has just 10 turns, the fewest of all circuits on this year's calendar.

Marc Marquez has "no respect for the other riders" in MotoGP, according to Alex Rins.

Reigning champion Marquez and fellow Spaniard Rins were involved in a heated battle during Q2 at the Czech Grand Prix on Saturday.

After the Repsol Honda rider ran wide at turn five, Jack Miller overtook him but Rins was unable to do so until a dive down the inside at turn seven that appeared to lead to contact between the pair.

Marquez broke late into the penultimate corner to regain track position before they entered the pits, where he slowed down and gave Rins a gentle push to ensure he had enough room to avoid a barrier.

Championship leader Marquez ended up taking pole position to equal Mick Doohan's record of 58 in the premier class, while Rins had to settle for sixth.

Recalling the terse exchanges, Rins said: "It's a tricky thing, because for sure he's now one step ahead of everybody. He put the slick tyre on and he was super fast. But I think he has no respect for the other riders. He is riding on his way.

"On turn five, he went a bit wide, and behind him was Miller and me. When we went wide, he looked behind and he saw Jack and me. Jack passed him, but he went [back] into the [racing] line. And sincerely, he disturbed me.

"I was pushing, I was not super fast, but I was pushing, so on the next left corner I tried to do my line, he opened a bit the door, I go in. I touched him, but I think it's his fault. If he is riding slow he needs to open the door and that's it, no?

"Then on the last corner he braked super hard to overtake me. Nothing more. Entering the box, what happened was I was in front of him and I go straight and he has no space to go by my side. If I was him, I [would be] cutting the gas, and it's [straight to the] boxes, no?"

Marquez was also involved in some intense racing alongside Maverick Vinales during FP1 on Friday, and Rins suggested it is part of the five-time champion's attempted mind games.

He said: "It can be [that Marquez was trying to intimidate Rins], yes, because it's not the first time. Everybody knows Marquez, and everybody knows he has an incredible talent.

"But also what happened in FP1 with Vinales was more or less the same. Marc loves to play this game and try and get in the head of his rivals. But in my case, I'm very calm."

Marc Marquez displayed incredible talent and courage as he defied the weather to equal Mick Doohan's record of 58 premier class pole positions by going fastest in qualifying at the Czech Grand Prix.

In changeable conditions at the Automotodrom Brno, reigning champion Marquez went out on slick tyres for his final laps and refused to back out as rain began to fall again.

The Spaniard somehow displaced Johann Zarco on provisional pole on his penultimate lap and then incredibly shaved another second and a half off his time to finish 2.524 seconds quicker than Jack Miller in second.

Miller also pressed on in the wet while on slicks but slid out on the last turn during his final lap. However, he had already done enough to qualify ahead of Zarco.

Earlier in the session Marquez became embroiled in an on-track battle with Alex Rins and he shoved the Suzuki Ecstar rider as they headed into the pit lane.

The five-time MotoGP champion retained his focus to gain the landmark pole, meaning he could make history at the Red Bull Ring next weekend.

Andrea Dovizioso split Zarco from his Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team-mate Pol Espargaro, and Rins will join them on the second row. Valentino Rossi will start seventh, ahead of Danilo Petrucci and Maverick Vinales.

Fabio Quartararo was fastest in FP2 on Friday but could only secure 10th in Q2, with Cal Crutchlow and Franco Morbidelli rounding out the top 12.

 

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda): 2:02.753secs
2. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing): +2.524s
3. Johann Zarco (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing): +2.598s
4. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati): +2.837s
5. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing): +2.957s
6. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar): +3.419s
7. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha): +3.480s
8. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati): +3.704s
9. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha): +3.873s
10. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha): +3.895s
11. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda): +4.370s
12. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha): +6.651s

Fabio Quartararo continued his fine pace over a single lap to pip Marc Marquez and sit top of the MotoGP timesheets after FP2 at the Czech Republic Grand Prix.

A late effort from Petronas Yamaha's rookie star, who has claimed pole in two of the last three races, saw him beat reigning world champion and standings leader Marquez by just 0.023seconds.

Friday's action in Brno took on an added importance with rain expected during Saturday's FP3, meaning these times are likely to prove crucial in determining the 10 riders who seal automatic progression to Q2.

The Ducati machines looked competitive with Jack Miller and Andrea Dovizioso setting identical times 0.269secs behind Quartararo, closely followed by in-form Maverick Vinales in fifth and Suzuki Ecstar's Alex Rins.

Valentino Rossi - who overcame a mechanical issue - and Danilo Petrucci are also in the top 10 as things stand, the latter narrowly edging Joan Mir into 11th, while Takaaki Nakagami crashed in FP2 and had to settle for 12th.

Dovizioso, who sits second in the riders' championship and won last year's race at this circuit, had topped FP1, with Marquez also coming second in that stint.

But every rider went faster in a competitive later session, with just 0.423s covering the top six and under a second between the 13 fastest riders on the track.

Repsol Honda star Marquez has won five of the nine races this season and added three second-place finishes, giving him a comfortable 58-point advantage over Dovizioso going into this event, the first since MotoGP's mid-season break.

Valentino Rossi may sit sixth in the MotoGP rider standings, but he is hopeful a return to a happy hunting ground will be the start of a 2019 resurgence.

Rossi's star has faded since his era of MotoGP domination, when he claimed seven titles in a nine-year spell from 2001 to 2009.

But the man affectionally known as 'The Doctor' is more than a threat on his day and started the campaign with podium finishes in two of the first three races.

Ahead of Sunday's Czech Republic Grand Prix, the Yamaha rider remains within striking distance of all of the chasing pack behind runaway leader Marc Marquez.

Rossi has history on his side, too, having won the Brno event on five occasions, more than any other current rider.

Here, we take a look at some of the other key numbers ahead of the race, courtesy of Opta, as 2019 resumes following a mid-season break.

- No rider has won back-to-back events at the Czech Republic Grand Prix since Rossi achieved the feat in 2008 and 2009.

- Marquez has finished on the podium in five of his past six MotoGP events at Brno.

58 - Marquez is well clear of his nearest rival, Andrea Dovizioso, on the rider standings.

- Marquez's speed is shown by the fact he has the fastest lap at six of the nine MotoGP events this year.

- Dovizioso has failed to finish on the podium in his last three MotoGP appearances, his worst run since May 2018.

- Alex Rins has abandoned the race in his last two MotoGP events. He has never abandoned three in a row in the top category.

9 - Danilo Petrucci has finished in the top 10 in his last nine races, the best run in his MotoGP career.

Jorge Lorenzo is targeting the British Grand Prix at the end of August for his MotoGP return after suffering a fractured backbone.

The Repsol Honda has missed the past two races after a crash in practice at the Dutch TT in late June, the latest in a series of incidents involving the Spaniard.

Lorenzo wiped out a number of contenders in a collision at the Catalunya Grand Prix, then came off his bike in a post-race test in Barcelona.

And after being kept out of action by his most recent mishap Lorenzo is going to miss the Czech and Austrian events before attempting a comeback at Silverstone.

A statement from the Honda team read: "Jorge Lorenzo has elected to continue focusing on his recovery and will return for the British GP on August 25.

 

"Jorge Lorenzo and the Repsol Honda Team have agreed it is best for Lorenzo to miss both the Czech and Austrian rounds to continue his recovery and avoid any further risk of injury.

"Having spent the summer break working on his recovery, Lorenzo's condition has improved but he is still in some pain and his movement on a bike remains restricted. Silverstone has been set as his new objective for returning to riding for the Repsol Honda Team."

Stefan Bradl will continue to deputise for Lorenzo, who is 16th in the standings.

Marc Marquez expects Maverick Vinales and Fabio Quartararo to be the fastest riders in the second half of the MotoGP season and insists his Repsol Honda team can still improve after he continued his Sachsenring dominance.

The Spaniard made it 10 wins from his past 10 visits to the German track, including seven in a row in MotoGP.

It was a flawless weekend for Marquez, who owns a 58-point lead over Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso after the Italian could only place fifth having started 13th on the grid.

Vinales followed up a win in Assen last time out with second in the German Grand Prix, while Cal Crutchlow completed the podium despite riding with a fractured tibia.

Marquez may be in a commanding position ahead of a break in the season, but he warned there is plenty of work to do when the racing resumes in the Czech Republic at the start of August.

"We have two races between me and Dovi, of course Ducati will come back and will be very fast," he said. 

"But at the moment the riders to beat are the two Yamahas, Vinales and [Fabio] Quartararo. I think they will be the fastest in the second part of the championship. 

"Anyway, we need to keep pushing, keep working, focus on our pace, and it is what I did – forget the others it doesn't matter who is behind, who crashes, who made the mistake."

Crutchlow sustained his injury after falling from his bike and banging his knee against the ground on Wednesday.

But he gave Vinales a torrid outing and only an error at Turn 9 on the penultimate lap ended his challenge.

"Maybe I'll get injured before every race," Crutchlow joked. "On Wednesday I had a strange injury and hurt my knee, but honestly speaking my physical condition over the weekend was fine. 

"I didn't complain about it, got on with my job, and as I said Thursday I wasn't going to use it as an excuse to go slower this weekend. 

"When the chips are down and I have to pull out a result I feel I can pull out a result."

Vinales added about his good form: "I'm going to enjoy this moment, it's always difficult. 

"It was a difficult first part of season but it seems to work well these last two races. We need to keep working hard like this."

Marc Marquez continued his sensational record at the Sachsenring with a dominant pole-to-flag victory in Sunday's German Grand Prix. 

The Spaniard racked up a 10th consecutive victory at the circuit – seven of those now coming in MotoGP – as he stretched his lead at the top of the world championship standings.

Marquez, who a day earlier had also made it 10 pole positions in a row, was never troubled by the chasing pack and set a lap record en route to maximum points.

It means the Repsol Honda rider, who celebrated with the crowd at the end of the race, now has a 58-point lead over Andrea Dovizioso at the top of the riders' standings as he continues a relentless march towards a sixth MotoGP world title.

Dovizioso endured a nightmare qualifying session and started 13th on the grid, but the Ducati man worked his way through the pack to record a fifth-place finish.

The Italian was involved in a fierce battle for fourth with Danilo Petrucci and Jack Miller but was crucially undercut by the former at Turn 1 on the final lap and was unable to strike back.

Alex Rins suffered disappointment after crashing out at Turn 11 with 11 laps to go having made a couple of neat passes to work his way up to second – the Spaniard sliding into the gravel.

Maverick Vinales – a winner last time out at Assen – consequently claimed second after holding off the close attentions of Cal Crutchlow, who completed the podium but will rue going wide at Turn 9 on the penultimate lap. 

Exciting rookie Fabio Quartararo would have had designs on a top-three finish after qualifying second, but the Frenchman locked up at Turn 3 as early as the second lap and spun out for a premature end to his afternoon.

 

TOP 10

1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda)
2. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) +4.587secs
3. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) +7.741s
4. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati) +16.577s
5. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) +16.669s
6. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) +16.836s
7. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) +17.156s
8. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha) +19.110s
9. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha) +20.634s
10. Stefan Bradl (Repsol Honda) +22.708s

TITLE STANDINGS

Riders

1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) 185
2. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 127 (-58)
3. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati) 121 (-64)
4. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) 101 (-84)
5. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) 85 (-100)

Teams

1. Ducati 248
2. Repsol Honda 210 (-38)
3. Monster Energy Yamaha 165 (-83)
4. Suzuki Ecstar 140 (-108)
5. Petronas Yamaha 119 (-129)

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