Jorge Martin flew to a second MotoGP pole in his rookie season at the Red Bull Ring with a late charge, while Fabio Quartararo lost out due to track limits.
Martin had displayed strong speed in FP3 on Saturday morning to bag himself a direct-to-Q2 berth before posting a time good enough to complete the provisional front row in the opening stages of the pole shootout, slotting just behind Quartararo and factory Ducati rider Jack Miller.
Ducati soon came to the fore though as Francesco Bagnaia kicked off the deciding final time attacks, the Italian shooting to the top spot with a 1:23.038s, a time just a few hundredths faster than the Yamaha man.
Martin though had designs on a second pole of the year-his first coming in the second round of the year in Qatar-as he banged in the first sub-1:23 tour of the Styrian Grand Prix weekend-a 1:22.994s-to storm to the head of the timesheets.
A dream return to the front looked to be dashed as Quartararo lapped just under half-a-tenth quicker to put his M1 back on top, though he was swiftly relegated back once again after losing his improved time due to a track limits infringement-leaving Martin on pole once again.
A late improvement for Bagnaia ultimately fell away to leave him completing a Ducati 1-2 behind his rookie stable-mate, with series leader Quartararo keen to try and keep control of his points advantage from the front row on Sunday.
Jack Miller made it three Desmosedici’s in the top four on the second factory machine ahead of Suzuki’s Joan Mir who scored his best starting slot of the year so far, while Johann Zarco also performed strongly to put all four GP20 Ducati’s in the top half-dozen grid spots.
Aleix Espargaro was seventh for Aprilia ahead of Marc Marquez-who crashed on his final flyer and thus failed to improve- while the second Yamaha of Maverick Vinales struggled to match his Saturday morning speed en-route to ninth.
Takaaki Nakagami completed the top ten for LCR Honda ahead of team-mate Alex Marquez, while KTM’ Miguel Oliveira-still nursing the injured hand he suffered in his fearsome crash on Friday-completed the 12 Q2 runners.
Enea Bastianini meanwhile was unluckly to miss out on a Q2 passage after initially topping the preceding Q1 session only to lose his time due to track limits at Turn 8-leaving him a lowly 20th as a result-while Alex Rins was the unlucky man to just miss out on a spot in Q2 down in 13th.
Bastianini’s disappointment at least saved KTM’s blushes as it allowed Oliveira to take the final Q2 spot alongside Alex Marquez, the manufacturer almost losing all its bikes in the opening qualifying segment at its home encounter.
Dani Pedrosa also fell victim to track limits but still qualified a respectable 14th ahead of the second factory Honda of Pol Espargaro and Brad Binder, with Petronas SRT Yamaha duo Valentino Rossi and Cal Crutchlow ending up 17th and 23rd respectively.