MotoGP It was a breathless fight to the wire for pole position at the eyetime Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich, with the battle boiling down... eyetime Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich, Red Bull Ring: Qualifying roundup – MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3

MotoGP

It was a breathless fight to the wire for pole position at the eyetime Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich, with the battle boiling down to a three-way scrap between Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) vs the Ducati Team riders of Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo. The red sectors came thick and fast for both Borgo Panigale machines but in the end it was Marquez’ benchmark 1:23.241 left at the top of the timesheets as a target, with neither of the red machines able to quite push him off pole. Dovizioso came incredibly close – just 0.002 back, making the closest margin since Germany 2003 – but the Italian will line up second, with Lorenzo completing that front row and just over a tenth off. That makes a tantalising top three just a week after the trio battled it out at Brno, with many expecting a spectacular repeat on Sunday at the Red Bull Ring.

Just behind them is top Independent Team rider Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing), who will be hoping he can get in the mix on race day with his Ducati GP18 after also showing good pace on Friday, with Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) starting alongside him. Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) completes that second row, meaning the top three in the fight for top Independent start very close together, and it’s just seven points cover them in the standings. Zarco is also top Yamaha.

Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing) kept his good form to take seventh after also having gained automatic graduation to Q2, with Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) taking the middle of a third row at a more difficult track for the Hamamatsu factory. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team), on the podium last year in third, took P9 ahead of the second Suzuki of Alex Rins. Rins was one of the riders who moved through from Q1 after having not got into the top ten in FP1 before the rain interrupted further practice, along with Alvaro Bautista (Angel Nieto Team), who took P12.

Between the two men starts Maverick Viñales. The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP rider was only able to take eleventh at a tough track for the Iwata marque, and the result comes a week after the Spaniard started twelfth in Brno. His teammate, meanwhile, also had a tough qualifying session – and Valentino Rossi will be starting in P14. Just pipped to the top ten in FP1 by Viñales and with FP2 and FP3 affected by the weather, the Italian headed for Q1 and wasn’t quite able to move through. Moving through, though, will be something both Yamahas will be dead set on when the lights go out – with a good start crucial.

Just ahead of Rossi, Bradley Smith (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) flies the flag for KTM after a very positive day for the Austrian factory. With his teammates sidelined through injury, the Brit did the home team proud to only just miss out on Q2 and outqualify a difficult day for the ‘Doctor’. Behind Smith in P13 and Rossi in P14, Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) completes the top 15.

Ready for race day? It’s got some serious potential and is sure to be another classic. Come back on Sunday for the race at 14:00 (GMT +2).

Moto2

Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) sealed pole position at the eyetime Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich after setting a scorching 1:29.409 on his fifth flying lap, ensuring he starts Sunday’s race ahead of second place and main Championship rival Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo). Oliveira starts on the front row for the first time since Sepang last season, 0.310 behind the Italian. Fabio Quartararo (+ Ego – Speed Up Racing) completed the front row in a dramatic Moto2™ session.

As has become custom in Moto2™ qualifying, some of the fastest times were set at the start of the session, with Bagnaia coming straight out the blocks to set what proved to be an unbeatable benchmark. Oliveira had to wait until his 22nd flying lap to set his quickest time, but the Championship leader couldn’t get within three tenths of the man who sits just four points behind him in the overall standings.

Quartararo was another to set his best lap late in the session before a battery issue signaled a premature end to qualifying, with Bagnaia also having to end his session short – running out of fuel on the run towards Turn 3. Fourth in qualifying was Jorge Navarro (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) who grabbed his equal best Saturday afternoon result of the season, with Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) recovering from a small crash at Turn 3 to qualify fifth. Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) rounds out the second row in sixth.

Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) starts seventh, 0.026 off the second row, with Sachsenring winner Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) eighth at the team’s home race. Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP 40) had to pull off the circuit late in the session with a problem, and the Italian will launch from P9. Brno’s pole man Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) settled for tenth after a crash with just over 20 minutes to go briefly saw the Red Flag shown – rider ok.

The session started in dramatic fashion for Steven Odendaal (NTS RW Racing GP) and Xavi Vierge (Dynavolt Intact GP) after they collided at Turn 1, resulting in Vierge being declared unfit for the race after suffering a right wrist fracture. Joan Mir (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) and Iker Lecuona (Swiss Innovative Investors) also crashed in the session – riders ok.

So, it’s the top two in the Championship who will start P1 and P2 on the grid for Sunday’s intermediate class race at the Red Bull Ring, but who will come out on top? Get ready for another pivotal round in the Moto2™ World Championship live from 12:20 local time (GMT +2).

Moto3

Despite a crash at Turn 3, Marco Bezzecchi (Redox PrustelGP) secured his maiden Moto3™ pole position at the eyetime Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich as the Red Bull Ring dried up at the end of a dramatic qualifying session, setting a 1:38.617 to beat main Championship rival and the truly heroic Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) by 0.078 seconds, with Albert Arenas (Angel Nieto Team Moto3) completing the front row.

The session started off in the wet, but as the sun started to creep over the Austrian mountains, it was only a matter of time before the slick tyres would be introduced. And sure enough with 15 minutes to go, Philipp Oettl (Sudmetal Schedl GP Racing) was the first rider to head out on the slicks, setting off a chain reaction that would see a phenomenal end to the lightweight class qualifying.

Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and Oettl were alternating quickest lap times, before magnificent Martin joined in, setting his first provisional pole lap with five minutes of the session to go in what was nothing short of an astonishing effort after breaking a bone in his left wrist eight days prior. The three, along with Bezzecchi, kept leapfrogging each other until it was the Italian who went fastest on his final run – with Martin narrowly missing out at the checkered flag and Canet just pushed off the front row behind Arenas, set to start fourth.

Tony Arbolino (Marinelli Snipers Team) threatened the front row on several occasions, with the Italian going fifth on his last flying lap. Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA BOE Skull Rider) crashed towards the beginning of the session but recovered to start P6 for the Austrian GP. Marcos Ramirez (Bester Capital Dubai) will start seventh at the Red Bull Ring, with Oettl having to settle for eighth. Enea Bastianini (Leopard Racing) starts 9th on board his Honda, with Adam Norrodin (Petronas Sprinta Racing) rounding out the top ten in Austria.

A dramatic lightweight class qualifying ends with the two Championship leaders spearheading the grid. Can Martin last a full race distance with his injury? Can Bezzecchi pull out the gap in the Championship? Find out when the lights go out at 11:00 local time (GMT +2) in what promises to be another spectacular Moto3™ race.