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January 23, 2018

Motorcyling: Marquez on pole for Australian MotoGP

Newly-crowned world champion Marc Marquez will start off pole position for Sunday’s Australian MotoGP as the fastest qualifier.

The Spanish Repsol Honda rider clocked one minute 28.408 seconds in Saturday qualifying to finish ahead of Ducati’s Cal Crutchlow by 0.234secs, with Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo a further eight-hundredths of a second away third.

It is Marquez’s 21st pole as he chases his first premier class victory at the Phillip Island circuit.

Marquez already secured this year’s world title in Japan last weekend.

Lorenzo is battling Marquez’s Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa and Valentino Rossi for second place overall in the championship, with the trio separated by just three points.

Lorenzo, who won last year’s MotoGP at Phillip Island on the way to losing the world championship by four points to Marquez, is coming off back-to-back wins at Aragon and Motegi.

Pedrosa was fifth fastest in qualifying after having to go through repechage qualifying while Rossi, a nine-time world champion through the classes, was eighth.

The Italian great, 35, has finished on the podium 14 times in 17 visits to Phillip Island across all three GP classes.

The 4.448-kilometre (2.764 mile) circuit, located on the shores of the storm-tossed Bass Strait, is a season classic for the world’s top riders with its sweeping blend of seven left-handers and five right-handers.

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Motorcyling: Marquez on pole for Australian MotoGP

Lorenzo leads MotoGP practice at Phillip Island

PHILLIP ISLAND, Australia (AP) — Despite a late crash, Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo set the fastest time in Friday afternoon’s MotoGP practice for Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix, edging ahead of the morning time posted by his Spanish countryman Aleix Espargaro.

Lorenzo had a lap time of 1 minute, 29.602 seconds Friday, faster than Espargaro’s morning 1:29.749 effort in his Forward Racing Yamaha around the 4.5 kilometer (2.7-mile) Phillip Island circuit.

With his quickest times achieved early in his run, two-time champion Lorenzo came off his bike around the turn four hairpin, ending his session but causing no injuries.

Marc Marquez, also of Spain, was third-fastest with 1:29.752. Marquez is looking to win his first Australian GP and a season-record 12th victory to add to his second consecutive MotoGP title.

While Marquez sealed the 2014 title by winning in Japan last weekend, Lorenzo had won the previous two races and is the defending champion in Australia.

Lorenzo is in a three-way fight for second place overall with his factory Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi and Honda’s Dani Pedrosa, with the trio separated by just three points. Rossi was sixth fastest on Friday and Pedrosa 10th.

Spain’s Esteve Rabat, on his Marc VDS Kamex, was fastest in both sessions of Moto2, which produced a series of accidents. Finnish rider Mika Kallio walked away from a crash into a tire wall, somersaulting onto his feet.

British rider Danny Kent was quickest in Moto3 morning practice with a 1:36.906 on his Ajo Motorsport Husqvarna, while Australian Jack Miller led the afternoon groups in 137.033 for Red Bull KTM.

Qualifying will be held on Saturday.

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Lorenzo leads MotoGP practice at Phillip Island

Motorcycling: Fight on for title scraps behind Marquez

The pressure is off Marc Marquez after he clinched back-to-back world championships but the heat is still on in the race to finish second heading into Sunday’s Australian MotoGP at Phillip Island.

The 21-year-old Spanish Honda rider wrapped up the 2014 world title last weekend, finishing runner-up at Motegi in Japan, with races in Australia, Malaysia and Spain remaining.

With the title in the bag, Marquez can bask in his achievement of 11 victories in 15 races this year as Valentino Rossi, Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo fight for the championship scraps in the remaining races, starting with Phillip Island.

“I feel really good, less pressure, more free,” Marquez said of his fourth world championship in five seasons.

“The championship is done, but you are more tired after all the commitments. Of course, you can enjoy it a lot after winning a championship and the confidence is high.”

Although Marquez won the 125cc race in Australia in 2010, he has never won a premier class GP at Phillip Island and that will be an incentive for him to give his all again this weekend.

“Phillip Island is a special place and it is one of the best circuits we come to. It is really nice to ride here,” Marquez said.

“I’ve only won here in the 125’s but the track is incredible and I have a good memory from 2012 that I won the (Moto3) world title here, so I am really focused and motivated for this weekend.”

– ‘My favourite place’ –

Fellow Spaniard Lorenzo, who won last year’s MotoGP at Phillip Island on the way to losing the world championship by four points to Marquez, is coming off two wins and is hitting form at the right time.

“We just needed to put the pieces of the puzzle together,” the Movistar Yamaha racer said.

“We are competitive now and strong. It is not going to be easy to keep winning races, because there are four riders in very good shape. But our level is high.

“For me it is always a pleasure to come here. It is my favourite place we come to,” he added.

Last year in Australia Lorenzo took victory by seven seconds in a race which involved the riders changing bikes midway through due to tyre durability concerns.

Lorenzo, a two-time MotoGP world champion in 2010 and 2012, lies three points behind Yamaha teammate Rossi and Pedrosa in fourth place in the world championship standings.

Rossi, a nine-time world champion through the classes, is well in the mix after finishing on the podium in five of the past six races, including victory in San Marino.

The Italian great, 35, has finished on the podium 14 times in 17 visits to Phillip Island across all three GP classes.

Marquez’s Repsol Honda teammate Pedrosa was runner-up behind Lorenzo at last year’s Phillip Island GP, but has lost points to Lorenzo and Rossi in recent races.

The 4.448-kilometre (2.764 mile) circuit, located on the shores of the storm-tossed Bass Strait, is a season classic for the world’s top riders with its sweeping blend of seven left-handers and five right-handers.

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Motorcycling: Fight on for title scraps behind Marquez