Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) scored his 45th MotoGP pole position at Valencia this afternoon, to put him in the best-possible position for tomorrow’s season finale, when he races to turn a 21-point championship lead into another classic title win.
Marquez may take the advantage into the last race of the year, but the 24-year-old Spaniard is riding like he always does – in full attack mode – because he wants to approach this race the same way he approaches every race. Always searching for the limit, he slid off yesterday and again during qualifying when he was caught out by a cold front tyre at one of this track’s few right-handers. But by then he had already topped the session, just as he had done at the end of the first three sessions and in FP4.
Today no one could better the youngster, who is chasing his fourth MotoGP career in the past five years, and just as significantly his sole championship rival Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) could only manage ninth fastest. The Italian must win tomorrow’s race if he is to stand a chance of securing his first MotoGP title, but even if he does win the 30-lap encounter, Marquez will take the crown if he finishes 11th or better.
Marquez made sure of his first MotoGP crown at this race in his rookie 2013 season, when he finished in third place, so he will be hoping that the track will once again be kind to him this weekend. He has won two GP races here, in MotoGP in 2014 and in Moto2 in 2012.
Team-mate Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) will start this vital race from the middle of the second row, after qualifying fifth fastest, less than two tenths of a second off the front row. Pedrosa, who won May’s Spanish GP, will be aiming to finish his year on a high note, with the intention of helping the Repsol Honda Team to win the MotoGP Teams World Championship for the fifth time in the last seven years. Honda has already secured the 2017 Constructors World Championship, its record-breaking 23rd crown in the premier class.
Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V) continued his impressive return to form, placing inside the top ten in the first three practice sessions, then ending FP4 in seventh, less than half a second behind Marquez. The 22-year-old Australian was hoping for great things during qualifying, until a minor tumble consigned him to a fourth-row start.
Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda RC213V) was disappointed after a torrid Q1 qualifying session. The Briton spent much of the outing inside the top two, good enough to promote him to the Q2 session, but he slid off in the final minutes and was unable to better his time. As a result he ended the day 16th fastest, which gives him a mountain to climb tomorrow, because this tight and twisting track does not make overtaking easy.
Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V) also slid off as he too tried his hardest to make it through into Q2. The Spaniard missed out by three tenths of a second and will start the race from 14th on the grid, his equal second-best grid slot of the year.