BURIRAM, THAILAND (AFP) - Championship leader Marc Marquez made history as he became the first rider to climb out of Q1 and claim pole position at the inaugural Thailand MotoGP on Saturday (Oct 6).
The Spaniard had to fight his way through the first qualifying session after a crash in practice, but in Q2 he stormed to a time of 1min 30.088sec for his 50th pole.
It underlined the superb form of the Honda rider, who holds a 72-point lead over Andrea Dovizioso with five races remaining as he closes on a fifth world title.
"Of course I was happy how I finished the day," the 25-year-old told reporters, describing his morning practice session as "unlucky".
Seven-time world champion Valentino Rossi, who along with Marquez is a firm favourite among Thai fans, was 11-hundredths behind Marquez with Dovizioso third fastest.
Yamaha's Rossi described his time as a "great result" after he qualified just 18th quickest last month in Aragon, his lowest grid position since 2006.
However, Jorge Lorenzo, who arrived carrying a foot injury and then damaged his wrist in a heavy crash during practice on Friday, is out after he withdrew before qualifying.
Italian riders Marco Bezzecchi and Lorenzo Baldassarri will start from pole in the Moto3 and Moto2 races respectively.
Thailand's first MotoGP is being held in the rural town of Buriram, which is several hours' drive from Bangkok and has a population of only about 30,000.
More than double that size turned out on Saturday, according to the organisers.
The 25-lap race is at the Chang International Circuit, the only Formula One-grade track in the country.