Valentino Rossi 64th MotoGP Pole
Three weeks ago at Motorland Aragon, Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez earned his 64th pole, tying him with Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo for the record of Grand Prix motorcycle racing poles.
But following qualifying Saturday for 15 of 18 at the Twin Ring Motegi in Japan, there are now three riders tied for record GP poles. This was after the other factory Yamaha YZR-M1 pilot, nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi, claimed the pole for Sunday’s 24-lap Japan Grand Prix.
For the first time on Michelin tires at Motegi, Rossi posted a best lap of 1:43.954 around the 2.98-mile circuit containing 14 corners. Joining VR46 on the front row are Marquez, who finished 0.180 of a second back, and Lorenzo, who finished 0.267 behind. Lorenzo impressed considering he suffered a huge crash during the third free practice. Heading into the first of three back-to-back rounds, Marquez has a 52-point lead over Rossi.
"It's my third pole position of the year. I'm very happy because this year in qualifying I'm strong,” Rossi says. “We were struggling during this weekend to find the right balance and I'm also not a 100% fit, I'm suffering physically, I'm not feeling fantastic.
“In FP4 we improved the balance of the bike a lot and I did a very good lap and great braking in turn 11 and that was good. Starting from pole is always important and now we wait for tomorrow."
Qualifying on top of row two was Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso, who claimed the pole at Motegi in 2014. The Italian Desmosedici GP16 pilot was followed by Brno winner Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) and Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Aleix Espargaro.
Rounding out the top 10 in qualifying are Aleix’s teammate Maverick Vinales, Ducati Team’s Hector Barbera (riding in place of the injured Andrea Iannone), Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Pol Espargaro and OCTO Pramac Yakhnich Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci.
The GP of Japan gets underway at 2 p.m. local time as Marquez looks to garner some strength for a possible third title.
Photos by Luciano Bianchetto
2016 Motegi MotoGP Qualifying Results