BANGKOK: MotoGP championship leader Marc Márquez earned his 50th career pole position at the inaugural Thailand motorcycle Grand Prix on Saturday, holding off Valentino Rossi late in a pulsating qualifying session.
Four-time world champion Márquez lapped the Buriram International Circuit in one minute, 30.088 seconds on his Honda, pipping Yamaha’s veteran Rossi by 0.011 seconds on a scorching hot day.
Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso took the third spot on the front row, with Yamaha rider Maverick Viñales fourth.
Márquez, on 246 points, holds a commanding 72-point lead in the championship race ahead of second-placed Dovizioso with five races left in the season.
Ducati rider Jorge Lorenzo, fourth in the championship, earlier pulled out of the race weekend after injuring his wrist during a heavy fall in Friday’s second practice.