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28 days ago
By motogp.com

All-star cast: every manufacturer represented in the top 12

The cavalry are coming! For the third time in three races, all bikes line up in the top twelve as Aprilia, KTM and Suzuki get in the mix

Friday was a historic day for Aprilia at the Australian GP as the Noale factory topped a session for the first time since the beginning of the MotoGP™ era, and Saturday was another day of note for the newer competitors in the premier class as it marked the third time in three races that every manufacturer has qualified in the top twelve – something that both Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) and Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) commented on in the Press Conference following qualifying.

Highlights: Marquez dominates Qualifying as Dovi struggles

“For me, it’s incredible,” said Marquez. “This year is more equal and I like it because the rider must make the difference. Of course, the bike is important, but the manufacturers can make a big difference. With the rules, many different riders and bikes can be at the front.”

Viñales was equally impressed: “I think everything is much more equal and we have lots of riders within one second. It is important also for the satellite teams that they can be close to the factory teams as it makes a good show and good competition. For sure, riders can make the difference, but I think teams that understand the electronics and the tyres can make a lot of difference.”

Aragon is where the streak of such solid representation for each factory began, and in the dry, before Japan saw all six bikes in the top ten as rain hit the Twin Ring Motegi. At Phillip Island, with dry skies over Saturday, there were once again all manufacturers in Q2, with Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) the lead contributor from the three more recent marques to have joined or rejoined the grid - Suzuki, Aprilia and this season's debutants KTM - as the Italian took an impressive fourth place.

#AustralianGP MotoGP™ qualifying in slow motion

Joining him on the second row was a stunner from Pol Espargaro as the Spaniard put KTM in P6, with teammate Bradley Smith also in Q2 and lining up ninth - showing the incredible progress made by the Austrian factory in their first season – something Espargaro was thrilled by as he looked back at progress since preseason.

Also pushing forward is his brother Aleix Espargaro, fastest on Friday on a “historic” day for Aprilia, who was eighth quickest in qualifying to add more lustre to the Noale factory’s season. On race day, the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini rider will sets his sights firmly forward as he looks to keep building on solid foundations – and threatens to improve on an impressive season best of sixth.

Title challenger Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) flew the flag for Ducati on a more difficult day for the legendary Italian marque and took P11 – but fans of ‘DesmoDovi’ can take heart from the Japanese GP, where the number 04 qualified ninth…and won. Fighting for the title, the Borgo Panigale factory will launch themselves into the fight at the front on Sunday.

MotoGP™ riders talk Saturday at the #AustralianGP

Watch another chapter of the historic 2017 season unfold on Sunday at 16:00 local time (GMT +11), and see all six manufacturers fight it out at Phillip Island.

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