Marc Marquez and records go hand-in-hand. The way he’s going, he’ll own all of them whenever he hangs up the helmet.
On Saturday, the championship leader surpassed the great Mick Doohan with his 59th premier class pole position at the Red Bull Ring. Marquez is only 26, making it all the more extraordinary should he wrap up premier class title No. 6 this season.
However, for all of the Spaniard’s dominance in the top flight, one blip on his CV is a win in Austria. Saturday’s result marked his third straight pole at the Red Bull Ring, but he has been pipped to victory on both previous occasions.
Live stream the 2019 MotoGP World Championship on KAYO SPORTS. Every practice, qualifying & race live & anytime in HD. Get your 14 day free trial >
‘I’m very close’: Dovizioso upbeat as Marquez lights up timesheets
‘Truth behind the rumours’: Aussie star’s awkward admission
‘Not a lot different’: Should Yamaha be worried about 2020 bike?
The man that just — just — beat him to the win in 2017, Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso, will start on the front row alongside Marquez on Sunday.
The duo went at it back in 2017, with Marquez failing to make his last-lap, last-corner move stick. They have been the pacesetters this season, but the Repsol Honda rider currently holds a 63-point championship lead and is eyeing off season win No. 7.
After taking his record-breaking pole, Marquez remained coy on the challenges that his rivals will pose on race day, particularly Dovizioso.
“Dovi knows that it can be a challenge for me, that I’ll try things that I wouldn’t try with a clear mind,” Marquez said after qualifying.
“I’m certain that if Dovi, tomorrow, is inspired and I can’t be, I will still try.
“If I can’t be, I’ll finish second. But it’s clear that the game is his strategy, and his strategy is to pull at the chord and see if it breaks.
“But I’m very focused in my box, on my strategy, on my mentality, and his game has no effect on me.
“I have my objective very clear. If it’s not possible to win this year, we’ll try again next year.”
The mind games began at the hand of Dovizioso leading into the weekend when he claimed Marquez’s race smarts have left the rest of the grid in “crisis”.
Claiming pole in Austria by a whopping 0.434s proved just how far ahead Marquez is, but Dovizioso is expected to provide his greatest challenge in the 28-lap encounter.
Yamaha stepped up with Fabio Quartararo splitting the duo on the front row, with Maverick Viñales fourth. Francesco Bagnaia impressed in fifth, and will start ahead of an equally impressive Takaaki Nakagami. Brno combatants Alex Rins and Jack Miller, meanwhile, will start seventh and eighth.
However, all eyes will be on the front row, with Dovizioso putting on the chasers’ hat and deeming himself the most significant challenger to Marquez.
“Marc wants to decide the pace,” the Ducati rider said.
“I’ll have to be ready to react. He’s fast, but I’m there with him, and I still have some margin.
“If I look at the 28 laps, Marc and I are the fastest. Even if not by much.
“I don’t expect there to be other riders with us at the end of the race.”