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9 days ago
By motogp.com

Marquez masters Moto2™ qualifying for pole in Thailand

The threat of rain couldn't dampen Alex Marquez' charge to a fifth pole of 2019, whilst there are familiar and fresh faces around him

The qualifying day at the Chang International Circuit started in the wet and it looked to set to end that way too, as dark clouds cast rather ominous shadows over the PTT Thailand Grand Prix. However, that didn’t dampen the entertainment venue, and, in the end, a deluge resisted and Moto2™ would enjoy a dry track. Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) took a fifth pole position of the season and his fourth consecutive front row, whilst Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) and Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) joined the Championship leader on the front row.

Joining the charge for pole from Q1, Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team) set a new lap record and headed Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2), Marco Bezzecchi (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) and Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP). However, Q1 featured a dramatic crash at Turn 3 which involed second place in the championship, Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up). Thankfully, all riders were OK, although Navarro's hopes of a strong qualifying in Thailand were over.

Into Q2 and it was a mad rush for pole position, as the rain clouds loomed. Home-hero Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) wasted no time and put in a banker lap but soon proved not enough, as the Thai rider was pushed back to 12th in the end. The next lap saw numerous faster lap times come in and the grid began to take shape in the early stages.

Having been outside the top ten after FP1 before improving the top five after FP2, Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) even overcame a crash in FP3 to take pole position at the Chang International Circuit. The 2014 Moto3™ World Champion set his pole time halfway through the session on his fifth lap with nearly a tenth of a second advantage. Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) put in a determined performance to return to the front row, ahead of Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo), who took his first ever Moto2™ front row.

He may have been the fastest on Friday but Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) had to settle for fourth on the grid in Thailand but is still in with a very realistic chance of making it to the podium and repeating his 2018 Buriram success. Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) made it two SAG Kalex machines inside the top five, whilst completing the second row was title contender Augusto Fernandez (FlexBox HP 40), who fired in a late lap at the drop of the chequered flag.

Leading from the third row of the grid is Spaniard Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), as he goes in search of a strong result in the heat of Thailand. Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) was up in eighth place as he prepares for his first Moto2™ Grand Prix at the Chang International Circuit. Nicolo Bulega (SKY Racing Team Vr46) used his FP3 pace to good use and was ninth, whilst Iker Lecuona (American Racing KTM) completed the top ten.

Big names not able to make a big impression in the leading grid positions included Aragon race winner Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) in 12th, Sam Lowes in 16th from Q2 and Fabio Di Giannantonio (Beta Tools Speed Up) in 18th. It was a disaster for Lorenzo Baldassarri (FlexBox HP 40), as he ended up down in 19th place, two ahead of Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up).

Top 10 after Moto2 qualifying, full results here!

1 Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) 1’35.297
2 Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) +0.095
3 Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) +0.151
4 Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) +0.179
5 Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) +0.197
6 Augusto Fernandez (FlexBox HP 40) +0.284
7 Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) +0.303
8 Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) +0.320
9 Nicolo Bulega (SKY Racing Team VR46) +0.337
10 Iker Lecuona (American Racing KTM) +0.389

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