World Championship leader Marc Marquez took pole position ahead of Sunday’s Malaysian MotoGP in Sepang.
Marquez, who set a new lap record with his fastest qualifying lap, starts Sunday’s race 39 points ahead of his nearest contender with just four races remaining. The Spaniard’s time (2:00.011) saw him pip Valentino Rossi (2:00.336) and Cal Crutchlow (2:00.359), who will start in second and third place respectively.
Marquez’s nearest title challenger, Jorge Lorenzo, had to settle for fourth place, whilst Dani Pedrosa, the man who was quickest in the opening two practice sessions, will have to make do with a disappointing fifth-place grid spot.
It was a dramatic finale to the qualifying session, with pole position changing hands four times in the final knockings. A sudden, but short, downpour at the start of Q2 meant for a drying race track and quickening times as the session wore on and conditions improved. As is often the case in these circumstances, timing and strategy became so crucial.
As the chequered flag dropped, Lorenzo had posted the quickest time. But, Crutchlow overtook him with a minute to spare.
The action didn’t cease there. The seven-time World Champion Rossi beat the Briton’s time by just a couple of hundredths of a second and that looked enough to secure the coveted pole position.
Who Will Win The Malaysian MotoGP?
Not quite. The superb Marquez, who timed his final run to perfection, outdid Rossi. The lap record was a coup de grace on a tremendous qualifying session. The Honda driver is already showing an unshakeable winning mentality for one so young.
It’s all set up for a fascinating race, with the likes of Lorenzo and Pedrosa capable of challenging from further back.
In other news, the German rider Stefan Bradl did not partake in qualifying. He had a nasty-looking fall at the first turn in fourth practice and suffered a subsequent fractured right ankle.
Here are the full list of results from today's qualifying session:
1. Marc Marquez (ESP) Repsol Honda Team 2:00.011
2. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Yamaha Factory Racing 2:00.336
3. Cal Crutchlow (GBR) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 2:00.359
4. Jorge Lorenzo (ESP) Yamaha Factory Racing 2:00.578
5. Dani Pedrosa (ESP) Repsol Honda Team 2:00.692
6. Alvaro Bautista (ESP) Go&Fun Honda Gresini 2:00.974
7. Bradley Smith (GBR) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 2:01.306
8. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Ducati Team 2:01.635
9. Aleix Espargaro (ESP) Power Electronics Aspar 2:02.151
10. Andrea Iannone (ITA) Energy T.I. Pramac Racing 2:02.536
11. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati Team 2:02.900
12. Stefan Bradl (GER) LCR Honda MotoGP No Time
13. Colin Edwards (USA) NGM Forward Racing 2:02.858
14. Claudio Corti (ITA) NGM Forward Racing 2:03.175
15. Hector Barbera (ESP) Avintia Blusens 2:03.212
16. Hiroshi Aoyama (JPN) Avintia Blusens 2:03.418
17. Yonny Hernandez (COL) Ignite Pramac Racing 2:03.651
18. Randy de Puniet (FRA) Power Electronics Aspar 2:03.805
19. Michael Laverty (GBR) Paul Bird Motorsport 2:04.198
20. Danilo Petrucci (ITA) Came IodaRacing Project 2:04.310
21. Luca Scassa (ITA) Cardion AB Motoracing 2:05.199
22. Bryan Staring (AUS) Go&Fun Honda Gresini 2:06.038
23. Lukas Pesek (CZE) Came IodaRacing Project 2:06.203
24. Damian Cudlin (AUS) Paul Bird Motorsport 2:06.273