Miller to start fourth as Marquez escapes dramatic fall during Q2.
Fabio Quartararo took a sensational home GP pole position for Petronas Yamaha SRT in a hugely dramatic Q2 at the 2019 Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix.
A stunning 1m58.303s saw the Frenchman beat fellow Yamaha riders Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT)
Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Marquez crashed heavily, meaning he’ll start P11. A frantic session started with Marquez backing out of his first flying lap as the world champion went in search for a tow. The man on his radar? Quartararo.
The rookie sensation kept his head down on his first lap to take provisional pole, before Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) then took over at the summit in Q2. Not fazed by an eight-time champion right in his wheel tracks, Quartararo was firing in a stunner as Marquez quickly lost touch.
The number 20 Yamaha rider came round to go 0.4s quicker as the goalposts were moved further as Q1 graduate Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) went ahead of Marquez – the Hondas unable to do anything about the flying Frenchman.
However, it was Vinales who would hold the advantage after the first run, the Spaniard topping Quartararo by a slender 0.087s as Morbidelli slotted himself into third.
Then, it was time for a big dose of drama. As Quartararo headed out for his second run, Marquez rumbled out of pitlane right next to the Yamaha. The tactics were obvious for Marquez and others – stay behind Quartararo to try and get a qualifying tow. And that’s exactly what happened.
Quartararo knew Marquez was there and every time the Frenchman slowed and looked around, Marquez would do the same. Soon enough, Quartararo fired his YZR-M1 out of the final corner and down the straight, with Marquez having to deal with Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) to latch onto Quartararo.
The latter was slightly wide at turn one as Marquez got crossed up, but the 93 made the apex. However, no such apex was made at turn two as Marquez, pushing to stay with Quartararo, suffered a vicious high-side.
Monumental drama in Sepang as Marquez danced with the devil, leaving him out of Q2 and facing a potential outside the top 10 qualifying position as the pace on track was getting spicy. Petronas’ Morbidelli was laying down the rubber and the Italian snatched P1 from his teammate by 0.224s.
Morbidelli’s delight didn’t last long, when Vinales struck to take P1 back by just 0.026s, but it wasn’t over yet. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) was going great guns and the Australian moved himself up to a provisional front row, with Rossi also climbing to fifth.
Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso then also got the better of Marquez’ time as the 93 tumbled down the time-sheets. Meanwhile, a devil’s fire had been stoked. Quartararo was 0.2s under halfway around the lap, 0.3s under at the third split and a slight twitch at the final corner threatened to spoil a phenomenal lap.
Although losing time, Quartararo took the chequered flag to take an immense fifth pole of 2019, his sixth consecutive front row start. Vinales and Morbidelli make it a Yamaha front row lockout in Malaysia before a Ducati, Honda and Yamaha make up the second row.
That consists of Miller, Q1 pacesetter Crutchlow and nine-time world champion Rossi. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) spearheads row three 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 ninth as the second-best Honda on the grid.
Dovizioso, after showing strong pace in free practice, will be slightly downbeat with 10th at Sepang. 11th will be Marquez’s starting position on Sunday afternoon, the 55-time premier class winner’s worst qualifying since the 2015 Italian GP. Pramac Racing’s Francesco Bagnaia completed the top 12 in Q2.
Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) claimed what could prove to be a crucial Moto2 pole position thanks to a 2m05.244s in Q2. The championship leader sits 0.151s clear of second place Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team), with title chaser Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) lining up in P3. Remy Gardner starts out of ninth.
Just seven days on from taking a career first Moto3 pole position, Leopard Racing’s Marcos Ramirez has become the first man in the lightweight class to take back-to-back pole positions this season with a late flying lap. The Spaniard will be joined on the front row by SIC58 Squadra Corse’s Tatsuki Suzuki and Petronas Sprinta Racing’s John McPhee.