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.

World champion Marc Marquez made MotoGP history by claiming pole position at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Marquez, who wrapped up his sixth premier class title in Thailand last time out, has now earned a pole at every circuit on the sport's calendar, having never previously topped the grid in Motegi.

His first pole in Japan and 10th of the 2019 season came after he edged out Petronas Yamaha stars Franco Morbidelli and Fabio Quartararo with a time of 1:45.763 on Saturday.

Morbidelli was 0.132seconds behind and out-qualified rookie team-mate Quartararo as his impressive end to the season continued.

Factory Yamaha rider Maverick Vinales was fourth, just ahead of Cal Crutchlow, who had earlier progressed through Q1 along with Alex Rins.

Jack Miller came sixth for Pramac Racing, ahead of fellow Ducati riders Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci as Aleix Espargaro took a superb ninth for Aprilia.

Valentino Rossi, Rins and Joan Mir made up the fourth row, with home favourite Takaaki Nakagami having to settle for 13th position and Marquez's team-mate Jorge Lorenzo down in 19th.

Repsol Honda rider Marquez will be eyeing his fourth consecutive race victory on Sunday at an event he has won in two of the past three seasons.


PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda): 1:45.763
2. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha): +0.132s
3. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha): +0.181s
4. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha): +0.327s
5. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda): +0.426s
6. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing): +0.574s
7. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati): +0.647s
8. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati): +0.664s
9. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team): +0.795s
10. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha): +0.795s
11. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar): +0.837s
12. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar): +0.853s

Johann Zarco will ride for LCR Honda in place of Takaaki Nakagami for the final three races of the MotoGP season, but struggling Repsol Honda star Jorge Lorenzo does not expect the move to affect his situation.

Zarco had been without a seat after his split from KTM, with the team cutting ties with the rider early after he opted to end his deal at the conclusion of the season.

The Frenchman has been granted a return to the sport with Honda, though, as Nakagami prepares to bow out for the rest of the campaign to have shoulder surgery following this week's Japanese Grand Prix.

"I'm really thankful to have this chance," Zarco said. "I will do my best to pick up some good results and to enjoy the time, because these could be the last three races I can do for a while."

Zarco has reached the podium six times in his MotoGP career, qualifying on pole four times, and a ride on a Honda bike could be seen as a threat to Lorenzo heading into 2020.

The three-time champion has endured a miserable first season with Repsol Honda, sitting 19th in the standings, and is backing Zarco to impress.

But, asked if it put him under pressure, Lorenzo said: "No, Nakagami and Cal [Crutchlow] have finished ahead of me in nearly all the races.

"[Zarco] will ride a different bike – one that, in theory, is worse – but it could be an easier bike. Surely it won't be easy for him but, because of his motivation and eagerness, he'll achieve what he can.

"Because after not having been able to ride for three or four races, he'll be very keen to demonstrate what he can do and I'm sure he'll do well."

Even if Zarco has no hopes of unseating Lorenzo or earning a permanent deal with LCR Honda, the previously mooted switch to rivals Yamaha also looks to be off the table.

Zarco had been linked with Yamaha as a test rider but told L'Equipe: "The door has clearly closed. Honda and Yamaha are two big rivals. I talked to both and made an informed choice."

Yamaha star and MotoGP great Valentino Rossi added: "It's a shame. It's no secret that Yamaha was looking at Zarco for test rider and he would have been important for us.

"Now he's close to Honda and we need to see what he decides to do for 2020, but it looks to me like we will have to find another fast test rider. It will be difficult to find someone like Johann."

Marc Marquez wrapped up a fourth successive MotoGP world title on Sunday by snatching victory in the Thailand Grand Prix.

Marquez was behind Fabio Quartararo for much of the race but made his move late on to cross the line in first place.

The 26-year-old Repsol Honda rider has now been crowned champion in six of his seven seasons at the top level, with only Giacomo Agostini (8) and Valentino Rossi (7) having won more premier-class titles than the Spaniard.

Following Marquez's triumph, we look at the greatest spells of dominance across motorsport.

MotoGP: Marquez joins elite group

Marquez is not the first rider to dominate MotoGP. Rossi, arguably the most high-profile competitor in the sport, won five world championships in a row between 2001 and 2005, as part of seven triumphs in total.

Before Rossi burst onto the scene, Australian Mick Doohan ruled the roost, triumphant for five seasons on the bounce in the 1990s, while Agostini - who holds a world record of 122 grand prix wins and 15 world titles - was dominant in the 1960s and early 1970s.

Formula One: Hamilton, Vettel and Schumacher

Lewis Hamilton looks all set to win his sixth F1 world championship title, a triumph which would also be his fifth in the last six seasons.

Since Sebastian Vettel won the last of his four titles in a row, in 2013, only Nico Rosberg's 2016 championship season has prevented Hamilton enjoying total dominance.

Michael Schumacher, of course, was at his peak in the early 2000s, with four of his seven titles coming between 2000 and 2004, while Jose Manuel Fangio was a five-time world champion and won the drivers' crown each year from 1954 to 1957.

World Rally Championship: French connection

There is nobody more successful in the history of the World Rally Championship than Frenchman Sebastien Loeb, who won the title a record nine successive times from 2004 and 2012.

Loeb's compatriot Sebastien Ogier then took the mantle in 2013, going on to clinch the championship for six straight seasons. In the 1990s, Tommi Makinen was the dominant force.

NASCAR: Johnson takes over from Earnhardt

A true NASCAR great, Dale Earnhardt won his first championship in 1980 but had to wait another six years for a second. His five race wins and 10 top-five finishes in an ominous 1986 season began a sensational run of six championships in nine years that set a near-impossible act for others to follow.

Jimmie Johnson, though, has proved a worthy heir, the Californian proving as such by winning five in a row between 2006 and 2010 and adding another two by 2016 to cap an incredible decade.

Valentino Rossi thinks Marc Marquez is "very close to the perfect season", but the Repsol Honda rider disagrees.

Marquez holds a 98-point lead in the riders' standings and can seal his sixth MotoGP title and fourth in succession by scoring two more points than nearest rival Andrea Dovizioso at this weekend's Thailand Grand Prix.

With the Spaniard, who has finished first or second in all but one of this season's races, having a chance to wrap up the championship with four rounds to spare, Monster Energy Yamaha rider Rossi conceded little can be done to stop him.

"For me there are different factors. I think this one is the best season for him in MotoGP together with 2014," said seven-time champion Rossi, referencing the year Marquez won the first 10 races and went on to seal the title.

"From the first season he was very fast but now he is in a moment of his career where he is still very young but also has a lot of experience, so he has reached the top level.

"Always finishing in the top two except for one time in Austin when maybe he did a mistake due to a problem with the bike, I think that this is very close to the perfect season."

Marquez's only failure to finish this season came when he crashed out while leading the Grand Prix of the Americas in April.

The 26-year-old did not agree with Rossi's evaluation of his campaign but acknowledged it has been one of his best seasons in the premier class.

"It is one of my best seasons and it is not perfect, that doesn't exist. But apart from Austin, at the other race tracks I have been very, very happy how we worked with the bike and with the team," said Marquez.

"The team has been focused and I have concentrated more on our weak points and our weak tracks and that is where we have finished second sometimes. But it is not the same as finishing second behind the top guy by five or six seconds, it has been just one tenth.

"At our weak circuits we have fought until the last corners so I am happy. It is difficult to repeat for next year, but we are working to improve ourselves, to improve the performance of the bike and the team and to try to be better and stronger."

Alex Rins snatched a thrilling British Grand Prix victory from Marc Marquez after Andrea Dovizioso and Fabio Quartararo were involved in a huge first-lap crash at Silverstone.

Marquez looked set to hold off Rins and win the race for the first time since 2014 but was denied by his fellow Spaniard in a dramatic finish.

Suzuki Ecstar rider Rins nipped in on the inside of Marquez on the final corner and pipped the championship leader by a margin of 0.013 seconds to take his second win of the MotoGP season.

Dovizioso's last-ditch move prevented Marquez, who was battling wearing tyres, from taking the top step of the podium in Austria last time out and the five-time champion failed to see it out again following a stunning late twist.

Rins pushed the Repsol Honda pole-sitter all the way and was rewarded when he made one last move and exited Luffield expertly to pull off a sweet victory.

An elated Rins said: "Two laps to the end I thought it was the last lap and that's why I overtook Marc on the straight. In the last corner I was unbelievable, so much faster than him. And I did it."

Maverick Vinales worked his way through the field to take third spot ahead of team-mate Valentino Rossi, who started in second. 

Marquez was able to increase his championship lead to 78 points as Dovizioso was taken to hospital after suffering a severe blow to the head when he collided with Quartararo's bike after the Frenchman crashed in a nightmare start.

Dovizioso's Ducati caught fire as his hopes of back-to-back victories evaporated, with Quartararo also looking shell-shocked after rising from the gravel.

 

TOP 10

1. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar)
2. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) +0.013secs
3. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) +.0.620s
4. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha) +11.439s
5. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha) +13.109s
6. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) +19.169s
7. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati) +19.682s
8. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) +20.318s
9. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) +21.079s
10. Andrea Iannone (Aprilia) +25.144s

TITLE STANDINGS

Riders

1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) 250
2. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 172 (-78)
3. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) 149 (-101)
4. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati) 145 (-105)
5. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) 118 (-132)

Teams

1. Ducati 317
2. Repsol Honda 281 (-36)
3. Monster Energy Yamaha 234 (-83)
4. Suzuki Ecstar 192 (-125)
5. Petronas Yamaha 161 (-156)

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

Repsol Honda chief Alberto Puig has revealed there have been no discussions with Jorge Lorenzo over his future with the MotoGP team.

Three-time MotoGP champion Lorenzo swapped Ducati for Honda at the end of last season, but has struggled to find any form so far in 2019.

Currently injured, Lorenzo sits 16th in the standings, 191 points behind team-mate and runaway leader Marc Marquez. 

Reports have emerged linking the Spaniard with a return to Ducati, but Puig insists his team expect the 32-year-old to be competing for them in 2020.

"I don't think about it because I only know what we know, and we know that we have a contract with him for two years, that ends in 2020," Puig said ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix.

"So I really don't know what the paddock rumours are or what people are saying, but I can only stick to our plan and the Honda plan which is to have him for this year and next year."

Puig did concede, however, that the situation could change before the end of the campaign.

"In this paddock you are never surprised. I'm used to being in this environment and I know these [rumours] can happen," he added.

"But for me, the only important thing is when the rider comes to you and tells you what he has in his mind.

"I never had any information like this from him, so I have to believe that things are okay. I'm not even thinking if he will leave."

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.

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.

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