Marquez on pole despite crashing at wet Sepang
Marc Marquez has qualified on pole for the Malaysian MotoGP by more than half a second despite crashing midway through qualifying at a wet Sepang.
The 2018 world champion ended up 0.548s faster than Johann Zarco (Tech3 Yamaha) despite his fall, and they will be joined on the front row by Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha).
Proceedings were interrupted for more than an hour due to rain, which was a shower in the latter stages of Free Practice 4 before progressing to a downpour which caused a red flag in the third minute of Qualifying 1.
As such, both parts of qualifying were completed on a damp track.
Marquez’s first flyer was a 2:13.641s, 14.384s away from his best in practice, but he lowered that to 2:12.161s next time around.
Danilo Petrucci was next best after the first runs, 1.264s slower than the #93 Repsol Honda, while Jack Miller made it both Pramac Ducatis in the top three.
Marquez crashed on his next lap and while he failed to improve on the only flyer he could fit into his second run, it mattered not.
Petrucci found only 0.012s before Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), Andrea Iannone (Suzuki Ecstar), and then Zarco took up second position in the final minute.
Dovizioso looked likely to reclaim the place with his final lap but he went down at Turn 9.
Rossi brought the margin down to 0.848s but it was to be Zarco who would come around and earn a start from the middle of the front row.
“Honestly speaking, I feel really good,” said Marquez.
“When I go out on wet in FP4, the feeling was not so good but then in quali we change a few things and improve a lot.
“Even when I crash, I wasn’t pushing a lot; it looks like (the track is) really sensitive, we see many crashes, so the most important (thing) is that we got pole position.
“Even when I take the second bike, I just finish the lap and I did 12-six (2:12.6s) so that was faster than second (position) so it’s good.
“We will see tomorrow because I think that on the dry set-up, in a dry race, our pace also is quite good.”
Miller leapfrogged his team-mate on his final lap and will line up on Row 2 on the outside of Iannone and Dovizioso.
Iannone and Marquez were seen remonstrating with each other late in the piece, perhaps due to the latter holding up the former while on an out lap.
Rounding out the top 10 were Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar), Alvaro Bautista (Nieto Ducati), and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda).
Last start winner Maverick Viñales found no joy in the rain.
The Spaniard crashed one of his Movistar Yamahas when he was among several caught out by the showers in FP4, then, having been fastest in practice, could only qualify 11th.
Aleix Espargaro (Gresini Aprilia), like Bautista, came through Q1 but crashed early in Q2 on his way to 12th.
Michele Pirro, who has stepped in for Jorge Lorenzo due to the three-time premier class champion’s continued wrist pain, looked like breaking into the second 15-minute stanza but made an error midway through his final lap and ultimately qualified 14th.
Jordi Torres joins Lorenzo on the sidelines after he was also a victim of the conditions in FP4, which appeared to have been exacerbated by a dearth of rain flags.
Torres, who has been racing for Avintia Ducati as a result of Tito Rabat’s Silverstone injuries, has been diagnosed with a fracture in the base of his left first metacarpal (bone which connects thumb to hand).
Race start has been brought forward by two hours to 1600 AEDT (Sunday) due to forecasts of adverse weather similar to that which struck during qualifying.
Qualifying: Malaysian MotoGP
|1||93||Marc MARQUEZ||ESP||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||2:12.161|
|2||5||Johann ZARCO||FRA||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||2:12.709||0.548 / 0.548|
|3||46||Valentino ROSSI||ITA||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||2:13.009||0.848 / 0.300|
|4||29||Andrea IANNONE||ITA||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||Suzuki||2:13.097||0.936 / 0.088|
|5||04||Andrea DOVIZIOSO||ITA||Ducati Team||Ducati||2:13.183||1.022 / 0.086|
|6||43||Jack MILLER||AUS||Alma Pramac Racing||Ducati||2:13.274||1.113 / 0.091|
|7||9||Danilo PETRUCCI||ITA||Alma Pramac Racing||Ducati||2:13.413||1.252 / 0.139|
|8||42||Alex RINS||ESP||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||Suzuki||2:13.463||1.302 / 0.050|
|9||19||Alvaro BAUTISTA||ESP||Angel Nieto Team||Ducati||2:14.185||2.024 / 0.722|
|10||26||Dani PEDROSA||ESP||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||2:14.443||2.282 / 0.258|
|11||25||Maverick VIÑALES||ESP||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||2:14.856||2.695 / 0.413|
|12||41||Aleix ESPARGARO||ESP||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia||2:15.340||3.179 / 0.484|
|13||45||Scott REDDING||GBR||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia||2:13.786||Q1 / Q1|
|14||51||Michele PIRRO||ITA||Ducati Team||Ducati||2:13.823||Q1 / 0.037|
|15||10||Xavier SIMEON||BEL||Reale Avintia Racing||Ducati||2:13.971||Q1 / 0.148|
|16||44||Pol ESPARGARO||ESP||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||2:14.132||Q1 / 0.161|
|17||38||Bradley SMITH||GBR||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||2:14.332||Q1 / 0.200|
|18||12||Thomas LUTHI||SUI||EG 0,0 Marc VDS||Honda||2:14.843||Q1 / 0.511|
|19||21||Franco MORBIDELLI||ITA||EG 0,0 Marc VDS||Honda||2:14.994||Q1 / 0.151|
|20||6||Stefan BRADL||GER||LCR Honda CASTROL||Honda||2:15.364||Q1 / 0.370|
|21||17||Karel ABRAHAM||CZE||Angel Nieto Team||Ducati||2:15.679||Q1 / 0.315|
|22||30||Takaaki NAKAGAMI||JPN||LCR Honda IDEMITSU||Honda||2:16.558||Q1 / 0.879|
|23||55||Hafizh SYAHRIN||MAL||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||2:16.825||Q1 / 0.267|
|81||Jordi TORRES||ESP||Reale Avintia Racing||Ducati|