Marquez takes MotoGP pole at Brno for Czech GP

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MotoGP championship leader Marc Marquez put aside his ongoing shoulder difficulties to take pole position for the Czech Grand Prix at Brno on Saturday.

Marquez entered the weekend with a 43-point advantage over Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo in the riders’ standings, but raised concerns about his long-run pace during practice on Friday.

Lorenzo looked to have edged out Marquez for pole position heading into the final laps of Q2, with the Honda rider losing time in the first sector.

However, Marquez lit up the remainder of his final lap – including a stunning overtake on Lorenzo’s teammate, Valentino Rossi at the final corner – to produce a time of 1:54.596, going two-tenths faster than his rival.

The time went down as a new lap record for MotoGP at Brno, and gives Marquez a golden opportunity to extend his championship lead in Sunday’s race.

“I’m happy with the pole but especially happy with the rhythm in FP4 because we were struggling a lot with the used tire, especially in the morning,” Marquez said.

“In FP4 we changed the bike and improved a lot so we’ll see how it will be tomorrow with the conditions.

“If it’s dry then I think we can fight for the podium – and maybe the victory.”

Lorenzo followed Marquez in second place ahead of Ducati’s Andrea Iannone, who remains in contention to follow up his maiden MotoGP victory in Austria last weekend with another on Sunday.

Aleix Espargaro and Hector Barbera were arguably the stand-out riders in qualifying at Brno, finishing the session fourth and fifth for Suzuki and Avintia Racing respectively.

Nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi was left to settle for sixth on the grid ahead of Andrea Dovizioso and Maverick Vinales, while Dani Pedrosa and Cal Crutchlow rounded out the top 10.