Vinales takes pole for Australian MotoGP

Phillip Island (Australia) (AFP) –


Yamaha rider Maverick Vinales stormed to pole position for the Australian MotoGP on Sunday, continuing his dominant weekend performance around the Phillip Island circuit.

The Spaniard, who won in Australia last year, ruled supreme, constantly clocking fastest laps to seal first place on the grid in 1min 28.492sec.

French rookie Fabio Quartararo, who was second in Japan last weekend, maintained his hot run of form, securing second ahead of world champion Marc Marquez, who ran onto the grass in the dying seconds as he pushed the pace.

Petronas Yamaha rider Quartararo had a nasty spill on Friday and was forced to battle through preliminary qualifying (Q1) for the first time.

He set a scorching time to make Q2 and again signal his emergence as a key rival to the dominant Marquez, who has already wrapped up his sixth MotoGP world title.

Qualifying was abandoned on Saturday due to strong winds swirling around the beachside circuit, but the inclement weather eased sufficiently on Sunday to allow safe racing.

Starting from the second row for the race later Sunday will be Italian veteran Valentino Rossi on his Monster Yamaha, in his 400th Grand Prix, alongside Ducati's Danilo Petrucci and Cal Crutchlow on an LCR-Honda.

Marquez is gunning for his fifth win in a row and 11th of the season on the island south of Melbourne.

But it is a circuit that has often been kind to Yamaha, who have three wins from the last six Australian races, shared between Jorge Lorenzo (2013), Rossi (2014), and Vinales (2018).

Tech3 Racing's Miguel Oliveira, who was blown off his bike in a big crash just before the fourth practice session was red-flagged Saturday, was still suffering painful hands and was ruled out of competing on Sunday.

Qualifying times:

1. Maverick Vinales (ESP/Yamaha) 1min 28.492sec

2. Fabio Quartararo (FRA/Yamaha-SRT) +0.551

3. Marc Marquez (ESP/Honda) +0.724

4. Valentino Rossi (ITA/Yamaha) +0.751

5. Danilo Petrucci (ITA/Ducati) +0.847

6. Cal Crutchlow (GBR/Honda-LCR) +1.043

7. Aleix Espargaro (ESP/Aprilia) +1.066

8. Andrea Iannone (ITA/Aprilla) +1.089

9. Jack Miller (AUS/Ducati-Pramac) +1.123

10. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA/Ducati) +1.175