SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA (Reuters) - Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales took pole position for the Austrian Grand Prix, edging out Pramac Ducati’s Jack Miller in a closely contested qualifying session in Spielberg on Saturday.
Vinales did not set the fastest time in any of the four sectors at the Red Bull Ring but his time of 1 minute and 23.450 seconds was enough for his first pole since the Australian Grand Prix last year.
The Spaniard, who is second in the standings after three races, was 0.068 seconds faster than Miller while world championship leader Fabio Quartararo of Petronas Yamaha completes the front row.
“I’m really happy because my objective was to be in the front row but suddenly I felt an incredible feeling with the bike,” said Vinales, who struggled for grip in last weekend’s Czech Grand Prix as well as in practice on Friday.
“The team has done a really good job. We need to try to understand, for tomorrow’s race, which is going to be the best tyre. The bike is working fantastic, a lot of difference from Brno.”
Andrea Dovizioso, who made headlines before the qualifying session when his manager confirmed he would not be renewing his deal with Ducati next year, will start fourth on the grid while KTM Factory Racing’s Pol Espargaro was fifth fastest.
Dovizioso looked set for pole but Vinales bettered his time on his final lap before the Italian was demoted to the second row when Miller and Quartararo also set faster times as the top 11 riders finished within half a second of each other.
While Vinales was able to get his Yamaha on pole, team mate Valentino Rossi only squeezed through to the second qualifying session after Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci furiously accused Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro of blocking his racing line, which Espargaro disputed on Twitter.
Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Alison Williams
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