Marquez on pole for Australian MotoGP

Defending world champion Marc Marquez claimed pole position ahead of Andrea Iannone with Valentino Rossi seventh in Saturday qualifying for this weekend’s Australian MotoGP at Phillip Island. Defending world champion Marc Marquez claimed pole position ahead of Andrea Iannone with Valentino Rossi seventh in Saturday qualifying for this weekend’s Australian MotoGP at Phillip Island.

It is the Spaniard’s 30th pole in MotoGP as he bids to win the Australian race for the first time after crashing out last year while leading and being disqualified in 2013.   -  Getty Images

Defending world champion Marc Marquez claimed pole position ahead of Andrea Iannone with Valentino Rossi seventh in Saturday qualifying for this weekend’s Australian MotoGP at Phillip Island.

The Repsol Honda rider, who is out of the running for this year’s world championship after breaking his hand last month, clocked a fastest lap of one minute 28.364 seconds to start on the inside of the grid on Sunday.

It is the Spaniard’s 30th pole in MotoGP as he bids to win the Australian race for the first time after crashing out last year while leading and being disqualified in 2013.

Italian Ducati rider Iannone was a surprise second ahead of Spain’s Movistar Yamaha star Jorge Lorenzo, with world championship leader Rossi starting off the third row after finishing seventh.

Marquez’s Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa was fourth quickest and will begin on the second row with Britain’s Cal Crutchlow and Spaniard Maverick Vinales.

Marquez has been on the consistently fastest bike so far this weekend, topping the time sheets in practice and qualifying, but is 86 points adrift of Rossi on the championship standings with a maximum of 75 points available.

Rossi, who will equal the all-time record of 328 Grand Prix starts on Sunday, leads teammate Lorenzo by 18 points on the championship standings and holds the edge for his eighth premier class world title.

The 36-year-old Italian is chasing his first world title since 2009.