TERMAS DE RIO HONDO, Argentina — Reigning world champion Marc Marquez clinched his third pole position of the season and 12th of his career after qualifying fastest for Sunday’s Argentina MotoGP, the first in the South American country for 15 years. The Spaniard, who has won both races so far this season in Doha and Austin, was 0.742 seconds quicker on his Honda than 2010 and 2012 world champion Jorge Lorenzo on a Yamaha. Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa was third in qualifying to complete the front row. “Today I really felt good on the bike and I am happy to have taken pole position,” said 21-year-old Marquez, who has also been fastest in the three practice sessions. “In the morning and in practice we worked a lot with the used tire and this afternoon we obviously focused on qualifying. I put in a very good lap and I am happy.” He added: “I think that tomorrow it will be interesting to see which tire will be required for the race, because there are various options for both the front and the rear — it is going to be a difficult choice.
“One of the keys for the race will be tire management, in order to try to get to the end with optimal grip — which will allow us to make the difference.” Aleix Espargaro, on a Yamaha, Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso and nine-time champion Valentino Rossi, on the second factory Yamaha, fill the second row for Sunday’s race. Bradley Smith, on a Yamaha, leads the third row, ahead of Andrea Iannone on a Ducati and Germany’s Stefan Bradl on a Honda.
Bradl survived a big highside but still looked shaken by the crash at the end of the session. Alvaro Bautista, Pol Espargaro and Nicky Hayden will start from the fourth row. Lorenzo, whose chances at Austin were shattered by a jump start which caused a ride-through penalty, said his Yamaha was presenting challenges over tire choice at a circuit which is new to just a handful of riders who tested there in the winter. “I pushed at the maximum with the soft tire to make a fast lap time and was able to make it. We are trying our best to be as competitive as possible and take the maximum so we are satisfied with the result,” he said. Australia’s Jack Miller claimed pole position for the Moto3 race as he sets his sights on a third successive win this season. Miller, on a KTM, continued his blistering form ahead of Sunday’s third round clocking the fastest lap in qualifying with 1 minute 49.200 seconds. Spain’s Efren Vazquez and Danny Kent of Great Britain were second and third fastest respectively at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit. It was Miller’s second career pole to add to his maiden pole position achieved at the Grand Prix of the Americas two weeks ago. Miller leads the Moto3 championship with 50 points ahead of Vazquez, on 32, and Italy’s Romano Fenati, who has 24. Spain’s Esteve Rabat will start from pole position in the Moto2 race on his Kalex ahead of French Suter rider Johann Zarco with just a fraction of a second separating the two men. Belgium’s Xavier Simeon, on a Suter, completes the front row.