Marc Marquez converted his practice pace into an emphatic pole position for the Australian Grand Prix.
The reigning world champion set a blistering time from the outset as he became the first man into the 1:28s bracket at the Phillip Island circuit.
His initial lap held sway until the dying minutes when the Honda rider lowered his benchmark to a scorching 1:28.364s effort.
Ducati’s Andrea Iannone emerged as Marquez’s nearest rival 0.3s adrift of the Spaniard, with title rival Jorge Lorenzo improving to third with his final lap.
Dani Pedrosa appeared to be heading for a spot on the front row until the dying seconds when he was demoted to fourth ahead of LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow and Suzuki’s Maverick Vinales.
Championship leader Valentino Rossi struggled for outright speed which left the nine-time world champion to settle for a spot on the third row in seventh.
Aleix Espargaro, Pol Espargaro and Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso completed the top 10.
Jack Miller produced his best qualifying performance of the season to secure 15th position.
The Queenslander had impressed in practice but the LCR Honda rider was unable to find the pace required to break into Q2 despite producing a series of hard charging laps.
Fellow Queenslander Anthony West will start Sunday’s race from 23rd position aboard the AB Honda, with Damian Cudlin, deputising for the injured Alex de Angelis, in 25th.
Alex Rins claimed pole position in Moto2 from Axel Pons and Alex Lowes, while Aussie Josh Hook was 24th in the session.
In Moto3, Danny Kent secured pole with a comfortable 0.3s margin over fellow Brit John McPhee.
Although Kent will start from seventh after receiving a six place grid penalty for riding slowly on the racing line.
Remy Gardner, son of 1987 500cc world champion Wayne Gardner, was the best of the Australians in 26th spot, while Olly Simpson and Matt Barton will occupy the final row of the grid in 35th and 36th respectively.
Gardner injured three fingers in an accident during qualifying but is expected to fit enough to start Sunday’s race.
The 17-year-old has since been hit with a three place grid penalty for ‘irresponsible riding’ during Free Practice 3.
Barton also suffered a crash but is understood to have avoided injury.
Result: MotoGP Australian Grand Prix Qualifying, Phillip Island
|5||Cal Crutchlow||LCR Honda||1:28.912s||+0.548s|
|9||Pol Espargaró||Tech 3 Yamaha||1:29.222s||+0.858s|
|11||Scott Redding||Marc VDS Honda||1:29.499s||+1.135s|
|12||Bradley Smith||Tech 3 Yamaha||1:29.626s||+1.262s|
|13||Danilo Petrucci||Pramac Ducati||1:29.918s||+1.554s|
|14||Héctor Barberá||Avintia Ducati||1:30.064s||+1.700s|
|15||Jack Miller||LCR Honda||1:30.104s||+1.740s|
|16||Eugene Laverty||Aspar Honda||1:30.105s||+1.741s|
|17||Yonny Hernández||Pramac Ducati||1:30.135s||+1.771s|
|19||Loris Baz||Forward Yamaha||1:30.173s||+1.809s|
|20||Nicky Hayden||Aspar Honda||1:30.376s||+2.012s|
|22||Mike Di Meglio||Avintia Ducati||1:30.959s||+2.595s|
|23||Anthony West||AB Honda||1:31.205s||+2.841s|
|24||Toni Elías||Yamaha Forward||1:31.837s||+3.473s|