Marquez matches Rossi pole record, 'Race starts on Saturday'

Marc Marquez matches Valentino Rossi with 55 MotoGP poles: 'I always say that the race starts on Saturday… if you qualify at the front you can manage the tyres and risk in a different way'.
Marquez matches Rossi pole record, 'Race starts on Saturday'

MotoGP champion Marc Marquez claimed his 55th MotoGP pole position, despite a fall during a damp qualifying session at Le Mans.

The feat puts the Repsol Honda rider equal with Valentino Rossi for premier-class poles, and only three behind all-time pole record holder Mick Doohan.

Incredibly, since joining MotoGP in 2013, Marquez has started outside of the front two rows on just three occasions: 13th at Mugello 2015, then seventh at Sepang in 2017 and 2018.

"I always say that the race starts on Saturday," Marquez said of his qualifying record.

"The weekend starts on Friday, but on Saturday qualifying is really important in MotoGP because if you start at the front then you can manage the tyres and the risk in a different way."

On-off rain meant Saturday at Le Mans was certainly all about risk management, with the track drying steadily after a fully wet FP3, only for showers to return during qualifying.

"It was a difficult qualifying because it was not only about the speed, it was about the strategy and being smart, understanding the track conditions," said Marquez, who had fallen in final practice while trying slick tyres on the cold, damp track.

"When I went out I saw that we made the correct decision to start [Qualifying 2] with wet tyres. Then immediately I saw the light rain was becoming heavier, so I pushed and it was enough to be on pole.

"The strategy was to push a little bit on that lap, then give everything on the next lap. But when I gave everything, the first three corners were very good but at the fourth corner I fell down!"

But the rain meant the early lap times wouldn't be beaten, with Marquez finishing the session 0.360s clear of nearest rival Danilo Petrucci. Fellow Ducati rider Jack Miller completes the front row.

"Now we will see what happens with the weather tomorrow," Marquez said. "We hope it will either be a dry or wet race because if it's like today it's so difficult. With this light rain the track becomes very slippery and it's very difficult to choose the tyres.

"But it looks like we are able to be fast in any conditions and this is the most important for the championship."

Marquez's comments about the race starting on Saturday will be especially painful for nearest title rival Alex Rins.

The Suzuki rider, currently just one point from Marquez, will line-up just 19th on the grid after his worst qualifying of the season.