Marquez romps to Austrian GP pole

Repsol Honda Team’s Spanish rider Marc Marquez sits in his garage during the second practice session of the MotoGP Austrian Grand Prix weekend at Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria, Friday. — AFP

KNITTELFELD, Austria — World champion Marc Marquez on a Honda stormed to pole position for Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix ahead of Ducati pair Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo.

Having won the last two GPs, three-time world champion Marquez has a 14-point lead in the standings over Maverick Vinales, who was fourth Saturday with his Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi seventh.

It is a third straight pole for Marquez who posted a time of 1min 23.235sec to beat Dovizioso by 0.144sec for the 42nd pole of his 70-race career.

Marquez, 24, has taken control of the Moto GP season after struggles earlier in the season had left him fourth following June’s Dutch GP, behind Vinales, Dovizioso and Rossi.

Despite claiming back-to-back wins in Germany and the Czech Republic, the Spaniard was only fifth in Austria 12 months ago in a race where Ducati went 1-2 thanks to Andrea Iannone and Dovizioso.

“I’m feeling much better than last year at this circuit, so this is the most important thing,” said Marquez.

“Last year we were struggling to be in the top five but this year it looks like we have a good rhythm; we tried many things and it looks like we have a good base.

“I have some doubts about the rear tire because today I tried the medium and it seems like it has good potential — but with used tires I feel good, I was riding well and that’s the most important. And to be on pole, after the race in Brno, gives me a good feeling and a good mentality. But I know tomorrow we need to finish our job this weekend.” — AFP