Valentino Rossi 64th MotoGP Pole

Valentino Rossi earns 64th pole Motegi MotoGP Qualifying
Valentino Rossi

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.

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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.

2016 Motegi MotoGP Qualifying Honda's Marc Marquez
Honda’s Marc Marquez

“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

Pos. Rider Time
1 Valentino Rossi 01’43.954
2 Marc Marquez 01’44.134
3 Jorge Lorenzo 01’44.221
4 Andrea Dovizioso 01’44.294
5 Cal Crutchlow 01’44.402
6 Aleix Espargaro 01’44.494
7 Maverick Viñales 01’44.539
8 Hector Barbera 01’44.980
9 Pol Espargaro 01’45.232
10 Danilo Petrucci 01’45.782
11 Scott Redding 01’45.827
12 Alvaro Bautista 01’45.614
13 Stefan Bradl 01’45.823
14 Jack Miller 01’46.347
15 Bradley Smith 01’46.593
16 Katsuyuki Nakasuga 01’46.627
17 Yonny Hernandez 01’46.705
18 Tito Rabat 01’46.753
19 Eugene Laverty 01’47.060
20 Loris Baz 01’47.501
21 Mike Jones 01’47.631
22 Hiroshi Aoyama 01’47.788

2016 Motegi MotoGP Qualifying Results | Photo Gallery