Champion Marquez secures his first pole at Japan MotoGP

Motegi (Japan) (AFP) –


MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez will eye his tenth win of the season after snatching pole position Saturday in Japan.

The Honda rider clocked 1min 45.763sec for his first pole start in the premier class at Twin Ring Motegi, where he won in 2016 and last year.

He will be joined in the front row by Petronas Yamaha SRT riders Franco Morbidelli and hot rookie Fabio Quartararo, who came in 0.132sec and 0.181sec later.

Marquez, who finished third in Friday practice, has already secured his sixth season win in seven years after triumphing in Thailand two weeks ago.

He also finished second in five of the season's six other races, missing the podium only once in the United States after crashing out while leading the race.

But Quartararo is nipping at the Spaniard's heels after two narrow defeats to the world champion in recent races, with victory only decided on the closing laps.

Riders in Motegi had to navigate hostile conditions after heavy rains into the afternoon, leaving the track damp with thick cloud cover for the qualifying sessions.

Sunny weather is expected for Sunday's race day on the Japanese circuit.

Starting from the second row will be Maverick Vinales of Monster Energy Yamaha, Cal Crutchlow of LCR Honda and Jack Miller of Pramac Racing.

They are followed by Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso, who could seal second place in this year's championship with Sunday's race, while Valentino Rossi starts from the fourth row.