Defending MotoGP champion Marc Marquez on pole at Italian Grand Prix

Defending champion Marquez has won all five races so far this term and is in the box seat to make it six in a row after another excellent performance at the Mugello circuit.

The Spanish Repsol Honda rider clocked a time of one minute 47.270 seconds to earn a seventh consecutive pole, a run that dates back to the final race of the 2013 season in Valencia.

Home hope Andrea Iannone (Pramac Racing) was Marquez’s closest challenger as he finished the second qualifying session just 0.180secs off the pace.

Iannone will take his place on the front row of a MotoGP grid for the first time in his career.

The Italian beat Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo (1:47.521) to second place, while Marquez’s team-mate Dani Pedrosa (1:47.584) was fourth.

Pedrosa trails Marquez by 42 points in the standings and will need to produce an impressive performance from the second row if he is to have any hope of bridging that gap.

Monster Yamaha Tech3 rider Pol Espargaro (1:47.612) qualified fifth despite suffering a big crash at turn nine while on an out lap.

Six-time world champion Valentino Rossi (1:47.791) is third in the standings after the opening five races, but will likely require a very strong display on Sunday if he is retain that position after qualifying a lowly 10th for Movistar Yamaha.

However, there was better fortune for Ducati’s Cal Crutchlow (1:47.659), who was sixth ahead of fellow Brit Bradley Smith and team-mate Andrea Dovizioso.

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