MELBOURNE (Reuters) – MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez continued his domination of the 2018 season by putting his Honda on pole position for the Australian Grand Prix despite high winds at Phillip Island on Saturday.
The Spaniard, who sewed up his fifth MotoGP title with three races to spare in Japan last weekend, swept to his fifth successive pole in Australia with a lap of one minute, 29.199 seconds before a sprinkling of rain disrupted final qualifying.
Lining up alongside Marquez on the front row for Sunday’s race will be the Yamahas of his compatriot Maverick Vinales (1:29.509) and Frenchman Johann Zarco (1:29.705).
Italian Andrea Iannone was fourth fastest ahead of his Spanish Suzuki team mate Alex Rins and local hopeful Jack Miller on the non-factory Pramac Ducati.
Seven-times world champion Valentino Rossi will start from row three on his Yamaha with his rival for second spot in the championship, Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso, and Miller’s team mate Danilo Petrucci.
Ducati’s three-times world champion Jorge Lorenzo will miss the race as he recovers from wrist surgery, while Briton Cal Crutchlow could be out for the rest of the season after breaking his ankle in Friday’s second practice.
Alvaro Bautista, who stepped in for Lorenzo on the factory Ducati, was one of several riders who came off their bikes in the high winds over the first two days of the race weekend and he finished bottom of the time sheets in second qualifying.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney, editing by Greg Stutchbury)