Marquez matches Rossi pole record, then crashes

Marquez crashed in qualifying but had set the fastest time to get on pole at Le Mans. (AFP pic)

LE MANS: World champion Marc Marquez drew level with Valentino Rossi’s record 55 MotoGP poles with the quickest time in Saturday’s qualifying for the French Grand Prix at Le Mans.

The session was staged in changeable conditions which made tyre choice a complex affair, as underlined by Marquez posting the fastest lap only to then fall off his Honda.

The Spaniard quickly climbed back on board to continue unscathed having posted his pole-securing time of 1min 40.952sec early in the session when the circuit was still relatively dry.

He was joined on the front row by Ducati duo Danilo Petrucci and Jack Miller for Sunday’s fifth leg of the season.

“Today was one of those days when it wasn’t funny to be a rider because in these conditions you don’t know whether to stick on wet or dry tyres,” said Marquez.

“With this light rain it’s really hard,” added the championship leader. He holds a one-point advantage over Suzuki rival Alex Rins, who trailed in only 19th.

French fans eager to see home hope Fabio Quartararo replicate his fine performance in qualifying in Jerez a fortnight ago, when the 20-year-old became the youngest rider to take pole in a MotoGP, were left disappointed.

The Yamaha-SRT rookie will set off from 10th on the grid.

The second row of the grid features Italian trio Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati), Rossi (Yamaha) and Franco Morbidelli (Yamaha-SRT).

Riders will be keeping a careful watch on the weather for the race which is due off at 1200 GMT.

In Moto2, Spain’s Jorge Navarro heads the grid with Scotland’s John McPhee (Honda) securing the Moto3 pole.