Malaysian GP Qualifying
Fabio Quartararo took a sensational home GP pole position for Petronas Yamaha SRT in a hugely dramatic Q2 at the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix; a stunning 1m58.303s meaning he saw off fellow Yamaha riders Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) in the fight for the top. Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Marquez crashed out from following the Frenchman, and he’ll start P11.
A frantic session started with Marquez backing out of his first flying lap, and soon after the 2019 World Champion was locked on to Quartararo. The rookie kept his head down on his first lap to take provisional pole, however, before Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) then took over at the summit in Q2.
Quartararo remained unfazed though, firing in a stunner as Marquez quickly lost touch. The Hondas of Marquez and Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) were unable to do anything about the flying Frenchman, but Viñales was the next to take up the challenge and he managed to edge him out by just 0.087.
And then came the drama. As Quartararo headed out for his second run, Marquez rumbled out of pitlane right next to the Yamaha and shadowed him around Sepang, intent on remaining latched onto the rear of the fastest man on Friday. But would Quartararo ruin his next lap in order to not drag the World Champion round? The answer was no, and as the number 20 fired his Yamaha out of the final corner and down the straight, it was go time.
Despatching Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) to latch back onto Quartararo, Marquez made Turn 1 in hot pursuit before it all went wrong soon after. Pushing to stay with the rookie, the reigning Champion then suddenly suffered a highside and tumbled off in to the gravel at Turn 2 as Quartararo continued his final charge.
At the time of the crash, Marquez was fifth. As the red and yellow sectors lit up the timing screens for the rest, that started to look in doubt. And sure enough, it would all shuffle again.
Quartararo was pulling out the tenths; 0.2 under halfway around the lap, 0.3 under at the third split…but would he hold on? A slight front end lose at the final corner threatened to spoil a phenomenal lap but, although losing time, Quartararo took the chequered flag to take his fifth pole of 2019 and his sixth consecutive front row start. He punched the tank and the air in animated celebration and lost his helmet visor in his spirited celebrations on the cool down lap.
Fabio Quartararo – P1
“We came to Malaysia from a tough weekend in Australia, and we’ve suffered a lot to get to here. But it’s the home race for the team, and while they’ve not put pressure on us they clearly want us to perform. That makes the pole position very special for me and the double front row even more special for the team. I’m feeling good for the race; like we’re ready to go now. We’re not entirely sure which tyre we’re going to use, but we’ve got the warm-up to experiment with it and see how it goes.”
Viñales and Morbidelli make it a Yamaha front row lockout in Malaysia in second and third, with a Ducati, Honda and Yamaha making up the second row: Jack Miller (Pramac Racing), Crutchlow and Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP).
Maverick Vinales – P2
“Starting from the front row tomorrow is the most important. We’re going to keep working, but I think we did a good job today. We felt really good in FP3 and then in qualifying we did the best we could. We are in second place by just 0.1s, so we‘re really happy. We will try to make another improvement tomorrow. I will try to take the lead in the first corner and then I will push at my maximum from the beginning. Like I‘ve said before, we have nothing to lose and everything to win, so we‘re going to push, push, and push, and we’ll see. A podium would be important for us, that would be really good.”
Franco Morbidelli – P3
“It was a good Saturday overall and a great qualifying in particular, and I have a lot of confidence from the bike. Hopefully we can have a strong race tomorrow because I’ve got the pace for it, but first we’ll wait and see what the weather does. Hopefully the weekend will finish in a positive way. When you look at the pace, many riders can fight for the win and there’s not a big gap between us, and I think that means we’re going to start off with a big group battle before the guys who have the pace escape. To win here for the team would be unbelievable – I just can’t imagine it. But tomorrow we’ll see what’s possible.”
Jack Miller – P4
“I am very happy with the race pace and fourth place is a great result. I have to admit, however, that I am a bit frustrated because I thought I had the chance to take the front row. Everyone saw what happened in qualifying. I am still confident for tomorrow and we have very clear ideas about the choice of tyres.”
Cal Crutchlow – P5
“Today we have tried different settings and I’ve just got a setting that is consistent but not fast enough over one lap, that’s why we’ve found ourselves in Q1 a few times this year. I find it difficult to push this bike over two or three laps. In FP4 we worked really well with the used tyre and our pace was good, so I knew going into Q1 and Q2 I could make a big improvement and to be on the second row we’re happy.”
Valentino Rossi – P6
“All the Yamahas are very strong; this is good for us. I will start from the second row. Maybe I could have done a bit better, but we had some problems with the traffic on the second tyre. But anyway, starting from the second row isn‘t so bad. We worked a lot on rear tyre degradation and on making the rear tyre choice, because the soft and the medium are options for the race. We will see what we can do for tomorrow‘s Warm Up, and after that we‘ll see for the race, though we‘re hoping for a dry race.”
Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) spearheads Row 3 in P7 ahead of Petrucci, with LCR Honda Idemitsu’s Johann Zarco having a sterling ride in Q2 to grab his best dry qualifying of the year in P9 – the second best Honda on the grid.
Alex Rins – P7
“I was able to do a fast lap in qualifying and get a better position than in recent races, especially doing laps alone. But more than having one-lap pace, my race pace is very strong. In Warm-Up tomorrow morning we’ll check the tyre options again and see what’s best for the race. I really hope to do well tomorrow, especially after a great race last year. Our setup is good in both wet and dry conditions.”
Danilo Petrucci – P8
“I’m pleased to be able to start from the third row, because after all the difficulties I had this morning we did a good job and we were able to resolve some of my problems. Tomorrow the race will certainly be very difficult, especially because of the heat, and with the high temperatures tyre management will be rather complicated. Let’s see what the weather will be like tomorrow, and even though I don’t think I have the race pace to fight for the win, as always it’ll be maximum commitment on my part to bring home a good result”.
Johann Zarco – P9
“I’m quite happy about the day, I wanted this performance to go straight to Q2 and be with the best and improve the lap time. I did it, it was not easy, sometimes I tried and wasn’t able to go as fast as I wanted. But the last lap was pretty interesting, following Valentino (Rossi) was a good reference as I tried to catch him. I lost a bit of time at the final corner and lost maybe one or two tenths, maybe I could have caught him if not, but ninth position is good enough at the moment.”
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) took P10 in the end and pipped the man he’s fought for the title for the last three years to the honour, with Marquez’ crash proving even more costly than it initially seemed and the number 93 down in P11 in his worst qualifying since Mugello 2015. Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) took P12 to start alongside him.
Andrea Dovizioso – P10
“It’s a real pity having to start from tenth, because today we were able to make a further improvement to my race pace and so a good starting position would have been really important. Unfortunately, in qualifying my feeling with the bike wasn’t optimal and so I just wasn’t able to be quick enough. In any case here the straight is very long and with a good start, we can make up a lot of positions at the start of the race”.
Marc Marquez – P11
“I’m ok, I’m in a lot of pain all over my body after a big crash. We have a good setting for race rhythm, but we were struggling a little bit with one fast lap and especially looking for something more in the change of directions. The tyres were ready but I was maybe a little too aggressive in the change of direction. Honestly, I’m more disappointed starting 11th than with the crash itself. From 11th it will be difficult, even if we did have a good rhythm in FP4. This season we have had 17 almost perfect qualifying practices, but we will see what we can do tomorrow.”
Pecco Bagnaia – P12
“If I have to be honest, there is some regret about qualifying because I could have done better. Unfortunately I found traffic on track. I should have lapped alone but instead I made the wrong choice. We worked well with the tyres and the feeling with the bike is really good. We can have a good race tomorrow.”
Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) and Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) complete the top fifteen.
Joan Mir – P13
“I can’t really complain about missing out on Q2, because if you are going to graduate from Q1 then you simply have to set a faster lap time. When I put the soft tyre in, unfortunately I couldn’t find the same feeling as before and I couldn’t set a fast ‘final flying’ lap. Anyway, my pace is great and with a better qualifying I’m sure I could fight with the top riders. Let’s see what happens tomorrow.”
Aleix Espargaro – P14
“Today was not exactly a super day. We are lacking traction and, especially with used tyres, this costs us a lot in acceleration. I expected to be able to go straight through to Q2, but a technical problem in FP3 kept me from going out with the bike I preferred. Then, in FP4, the conditions were anything but easy, with some damp sections which certainly didn’t simplify matters. In Q1 I gave it everything, just missing going through by a tenth, but it was the most we could do today.”
Malaysian MotoGP Qualifying Results
|13||Joan MIR||SUZUKI||Q1||(*) 0.158|
|14||Aleix ESPARGARO||APRILIA||Q1||(*) 0.219|
|15||Pol ESPARGARO||KTM||Q1||(*) 0.596|
|16||Karel ABRAHAM||DUCATI||Q1||(*) 0.856|
|17||Andrea IANNONE||APRILIA||Q1||(*) 0.989|
|18||Jorge LORENZO||HONDA||Q1||(*) 1.262|
|19||Mika KALLIO||KTM||Q1||(*) 1.428|
|20||Hafizh SYAHRIN||KTM||Q1||(*) 1.829|
Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) claimed what could prove to be a crucial Moto2 pole position at the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix, with a 2:05.244 seeing the Championship leader pull 0.151 clear of second place Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team). Title chaser Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) lines up in P3.
Throughout Moto2 Q1 and Q2, the threat of rain was in the air as the odd wet weather flag waved around the Sepang International Circuit but thankfully, the heavens didn’t open. In Q1 it was Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40) who moved through, along with Stefano Manzi (MV Agusta Temporary Forward), Jesko Raffin (NTS RW Racing GP) and Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), and soon enough Q2 was underway.
It was the worst possible start for one of the riders who still have a mathematical chance of claiming the title though, with Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up) crashing at Turn 11 having not set a time. Meanwhile, second in the Championship Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) set the first benchmark before Marquez got going on his second flying lap.
The man leading the Championship by 28 points with two rounds remaining took provisional pole by six tenths, with his teammate Xavi Vierge and Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) climbing onto the provisional front row. Meanwhile, Binder had troubles on the first couple of qualifying laps and was lingering well outside the top 10, but the practice pacesetter managed to launch himself into P2 late on, before Nagashima also leaped up the timesheets and displaced him.
Vierge was then in fourth as Lüthi found himself on the outskirts of the top 10 with little time remaining. abd the Swiss rider needed a lap to propel himself further up the grid – and that’s exactly what he did, taking fifth with 30 seconds left on the clock. Friday’s fastest, rookie Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo), took sixth as he eyes his third consecutive Moto2 podium, locking out the second row.
Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) spearheads the third row in P7 ahead of Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) and ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team’s Remy Gardner, with last year’s winner Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) completing the top 10 after a more difficult weekend so far with a couple of crashes.
Fabio Di Giannantonio (Beta Tools Speed Up) took P11 as he aims to wrap up Rookie of the Year on Sunday, with team-mate – and title contender – Jorge Navarro down in P15 by the end of the session. The Spaniard was able to get back out on track after his early crash but wasn’t able to move much further up the timesheets.
|11||Fabio DI GIANNANTONI||SPEED UP||Q2||+0.712|
|13||Stefano MANZI||MV AGUSTA||Q2||+0.826|
|15||Jorge NAVARRO||SPEED UP||Q2||0.882|
|19||Nicolo BULEGA||KALEX||Q1||(*) 0.246|
|20||Andrea LOCATELLI||KALEX||Q1||(*) 0.366|
|21||Marco BEZZECCHI||KTM||Q1||(*) 0.370|
|22||Lorenzo BALDASSARRI ITA||KALEX||Q1||(*) 0.427|
|23||Bo BENDSNEYDER||NTS||Q1||(*) 0.466|
|24||Dominique AEGERTER||MV AGUSTA||Q1||(*) 0.613|
|25||Joe ROBERTS||KTM||Q1||(*) 0.849|
|26||Mattia PASINI||KALEX||Q1||(*) 1.027|
|27||Dimas EKKY PRATAMA||KALEX||Q1||(*) 1.161|
|28||Jake DIXON||KTM||Q1||(*) 1.348|
|29||Philipp OETTL||KTM||Q1||(*) 1.859|
|30||Lukas TULOVIC||KTM||Q1||(*) 1.867|
|31||Adam NORRODIN||KALEX||Q1||(*) 1.954|
|32||Xavi CARDELUS||KTM||Q1||(*) 2.535|
You know how it is – you wait a long time for your first Grand Prix pole position and then two come along at once! Or at least, they do for Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) as the Spaniard put in an impressive final push in Q2 for the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix to secure P1, joined by Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) and John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) on the front row as they proved the only two men able to get within a few tenths.
In Q1 it was Albert Arenas (Gaviota Angel Nieto Team), Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse), Jaume Masia (Mugen Race) and Can Öncü (Red Bull KTM Ajo) who moved through, with a few tiny drops of rain starting to threaten but nothing that affected track conditions too much. And in Q2, the same few spots were here and there on track, but the fight for pole was allowed to roll on.
With the clock ticking down. it was Suzuki who was heading the timesheets before the riders headed out on their second runs – with everyone leaving it late, and some too late. One of them was the Japanese rider, who was in the gaggle pushing to get round for one last lash but just missed out – leaving his rivals with an open goal to try and beat his time.
Ultimately, only one man was able to put it all together on the final lap and that was Ramirez. The Spaniard lit up the timing screens with red sectors and brought it home to take pole number two in as many weekends, with Suzuki unthreatened by the rest to retain second and McPhee securing P3 on Petronas home turf.
Arenas took fourth and is top KTM despite heading through Q1, and he’s joined on the second row by Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) – who aims to take the Rookie of the Year title on Sunday – and Darryn Binder (CIP – Green Power), who put in his second best qualifying performance of the season.
Newly-crowned Champion Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) heads up Row 3 ahead of Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3), with Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) completing the top ten.
|7||Lorenzo DALLA PORTA ITA||HONDA||Q2||+0.585|
|18||Niccolò ANTONELLI||HONDA||Q1||(*) 0.138|
|19||Tony ARBOLINO||HONDA||Q1||(*) 0.367|
|20||Raul FERNANDEZ||KTM||Q1||(*) 0.543|
|21||Romano FENATI||HONDA||Q1||(*) 0.805|
|22||Dennis FOGGIA||KTM||Q1||(*) 0.837|
|23||Kazuki MASAKI||KTM||Q1||(*) 0.917|
|24||Stefano NEPA||KTM||Q1||(*) 1.022|
|25||Tom BOOTH-AMOS||KTM||Q1||(*) 1.381|
|26||Filip SALAC||KTM||Q1||(*) 1.388|
|27||Jakub KORNFEIL||KTM||Q1||(*) 1.830|
|28||Makar YURCHENKO||KTM||Q1||(*) 1.943|
|29||Riccardo ROSSI||HONDA||Q1||(*) 2.517|