Honda rider Marc Marquez secured pole position for MotoGP’s Austrian Grand Prix, beating Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso by 0.002s.
Valentino Rossi will start Sunday’s race from 14th after failing to escape Q1.
At a track where top speed and acceleration are crucial, Ducati therefore entered the 15-minute Q2 shootout as favourite.
But it was Marquez that led the way for most of the session, with Dovizioso narrowly missing out at the end of both runs.
He was 0.03s behind Marquez during the mid-session break, but it was Dovizioso’s team-mate Jorge Lorenzo who then temporarily moved into the lead.
But Marquez fought back, setting a time 0.02s faster than Lorenzo before going further clear.
While he couldn’t improve on the 1m23.241s he set with three minutes to go, Marquez still ended up ahead as Dovizioso’s late effort fell agonisingly short.
Lorenzo will line up third on the grid, 0.135s off the pace, while Danilo Petrucci took fourth on the third Ducati GP18.
LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow was best of the rest, nearly six tenths slower than Marquez in fifth.
Johann Zarco was the top Yamaha on his two-year-old Tech3 machine in sixth, followed by Avintia Ducati’s Tito Rabat.
Suzuki duo Andrea Iannone and Alex Rins were eighth and 10th respectively, sandwiching Dani Pedrosa.
Maverick Vinales had a subdued FP4 and then was not a factor in qualifying as he took 11th, more than a second adrift of the top spot, beating Alvaro Bautista’s year-old Nieto Ducati.
Bautista and Rins were first and second in the first part of qualifying, while Rossi could only manage fourth.
The Yamaha rider, struggling with his bike’s acceleration, was fifth at the mid-way point and only temporarily improves to second before he dropped behind again, with his last flyer not good enough to move into the top two.
Rossi’s 14th grid spot is his worst since the 2016 Australian Grand Prix, when he was 15th.
Bautista led Bradley Smith at halfway point, and the Spaniard improved twice late on to end up first with a 1m24.195s.
KTM’s sole rider Smith had to settle for 13th on the grid as he was edged out by Rins by 0.015s, with the Briton missing out on a final lap by pitting before the chequered flag fell.
Behind Rossi, Aleix Espargaro will start 15th on the lead Aprilia, with Franco Morbidelli ending Q1 sixth but starting the race 19th due to the three-place grid penalty he was handed for impeding Espargaro in practice.
Jack Miller’s first run was ruined by a gearbox problem and will only start 16th, ahead of Hafizh Syahrin and Xavier Simeon.
|4||Danilo Petrucci||Pramac Ducati||Ducati||0.262s|
|5||Cal Crutchlow||LCR Honda||Honda||0.571s|
|6||Johann Zarco||Tech3 Yamaha||Yamaha||0.646s|
|7||Tito Rabat||Avintia Ducati||Ducati||0.681s|
|12||Alvaro Bautista||Aspar Ducati||Ducati||1.101s|
|16||Jack Miller||Pramac Ducati||Ducati||1.564s|
|17||Hafizh Syahrin||Tech3 Yamaha||Yamaha||1.593s|
|18||Xavier Simeon||Avintia Ducati||Ducati||1.627s|
|19||Franco Morbidelli||MVDS Honda||Honda||1.526s|
|21||Takaaki Nakagami||LCR Honda||Honda||1.937s|
|22||Thomas Luthi||MVDS Honda||Honda||2.069s|
|23||Karel Abraham||Aspar Ducati||Ducati||2.098s|