Spielberg bei Knittelfeld - Spaniard Marc Marquez (Honda) grabbed pole position on Saturday in qualifying for the Austrian MotoGp, edging the Ducatis of Italian Andrea Dovizioso and Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo as Valentino Rossi toiled.
"What a fight! What a pole!" the Honda team tweeted
After a dominant performance a week ago in the Czech Grand Prix, the Ducatis arrived in Austria hoping to further trim the huge points lead Marquez has built with five victories in 10 races this season.
Instead, Marquez, the reigning world champion, delivered a fastest lap of 1min 23.241sec in the second and final qualifying session, just two thousandth of a second faster than Dovizioso, the winner in Brno, with Lorenzo, the runner-up a week earlier, third, 0.135sec back.
"It's the same gaining pole positions by a thousandth as by a second," Marquez said.
Spielberg has been a happy hunting ground for Ducati since the track returned to the MotoGP calendar in 2016.
That year, Ducati swept the top places and last season the lead changed hands twice on the final bend as Dovizioso edged Marquez to win.
This week, over the first three free practice sessions, Ducati again held the upper hand with Dovizioso fastest, Lorenzo second and Marquez only fourth, more than half a second slower than the Italian.
"They struck first in the free practice," said Marquez. "This was returning like Nadal, now we'll see tomorrow how we take advantage, but all weekend I've felt good.
Marquez gained an even bigger advantage over his closest pursuer in the standings, Italian Valentino Rossi (Yamaha), was not fast enough to make Q2 and will start from 14th on the grid on Sunday.
Grids for the Austrian motorcycling Grand Prix after final qualifying on Saturday:
1. Marc Marquez (ESP/Honda) 1:23.241, 2. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA/Ducati) at 0.002s, 3. Jorge Lorenzo (ESP/Ducati) 0.135
4. Danilo Petrucci (ITA/Ducati Pramac) 0.262, 5. Cal Crutchlow (GBR/LCR Honda) 0.571, 6. Johann Zarco (FRA/Yamaha Tech3) 0.646
7. Tito Rabat (ESP/Ducati Avintia) 0.681, 8. Andrea Iannone (ITA/Suzuki) 0.850, 9. Dani Pedrosa (ESP/Honda) 0.883
10. Alex Rins (SPA/Suzuki) 0.986, 11. Maverick Vinales (ESP/Yamaha) 1.043, 12. Alvaro Bautista (SPA/Ducati Angel Nieto Team) 1.101
14. Valentino Rossi (ITA/Yamaha) 1:24.309
1. Marco Bezzecchi (ITA/KTM) 1:38.617, 2. Jorge Martin (ESP/Honda) at 0.078, 3. Albert Arenas (ESP/KTM) 0.638
4. Aron Canet (ESP/Honda) 0.883, 5. Tony Arbolino (ITA/Honda) 0.931, 6. Gabriel Rodrigo (ARG/KTM) 1.259
7. Marcos Ramirez (ESP/KTM) 1.284, 8. Philipp ttl (GER/KTM) 1.405, 9. Enea Bastianini (ITA/Honda) 1.508