Valencia, November 11: Marc Marquez took another step towards a fourth world MotoGP title in Valencia on Saturday as he claimed an eighth pole position of the season.
An 11th-place finish or better on Sunday will be enough for Marquez to finish top of the riders' standings, even if rival Andrea Dovizioso wins the race.
Putting himself on the front row will be a huge boost for the Spaniard, but a costly crash late in qualifying almost cost him.
Having set what turned out to be the fastest time of one minute, 29.987 seconds, Marquez found himself in the gravel at turn four with two minutes remaining – the 24-year-old able to return to the track but unable to set another time.
Dovizioso could not take advantage of Marquez's absence, though, and will have to launch an attack from ninth on the grid on Sunday to have any chance of a maiden title.
While the Italian is languishing on the third row, Marquez is joined at the front by Johann Zarco and Andrea Iannone, while Jorge Lorenzo – who also crashed during qualifying – will start fourth.
Valentino Rossi could only claim seventh, while Aleix Espargaro was one place further back having come through Q1 with brother Pol.
Meanwhile, Maverick Vinales and Cal Crutchlow will start 13th and 16th after failing to make it out of the first session.
1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) 1:29.897s 2. Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha) 1:30.246s 3. Andrea Iannone (Suzuki Ecstar) 1:30.399s 4. Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati) 1:30.460s 5. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) 1:30.589s 6. Michele Pirro (Ducati) 1:30.764s 7. Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha) 1:30.848s 8. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) 1:30.857s 9. Andrea Dovisioso (Ducati) 1:30.961s 10. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) 1:30.972s 11. Pol Espargaro (KTM) 1:31.044s 12. Jack Miller (Marc VDS) 1:31.190s