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Oct 12, 2013

Marquez Breaks Lap Record, Claims Eighth MotoGP Pole Position Of The Season, At Sepang

FIM MotoGP World Championship: Marc Marquez (93).
FIM MotoGP World Championship
Sepang, Malaysia
October 12, 2013
Qualifying Results:

Qualifying Session One Results (top two advance to Q2, all on Bridgestone tires):

1. Andrea IANNONE, Italy (DUCATI), 2:02.326
2. Aleix ESPARGARO, Spain (ART-Aprilia), 2:02.632
3. Colin EDWARDS, USA (FTR-Kawasaki), 2:02.858
4. Claudio CORTI, Italy (FTR-Kawasaki), 2:03.175
5. Hector BARBERA, Spain (FTR-Kawasaki), 2:03.212
6. Hiroshi AOYAMA, Japan (FTR-Kawasaki), 2:03.418
7. Yonny HERNANDEZ, Colombia (DUCATI), 2:03.651
8. Randy DE PUNIET, France (ART-Aprilia), 2:03.805
9. Michael LAVERTY, UK (ART-Aprilia), 2:04.198
10. Danilo PETRUCCI, Italy (IODA/SUTER-BMW), 2:04.310
11. Luca SCASSA, Italy (ART-Aprilia), 2:05.199
12. Bryan STARING, Australia (FTR-Honda), 2:06.038
13. Lukas PESEK, Czech Republic (IODA/SUTER-BMW), 2:06.203
14. Damian CUDLIN, Australia (PBM-Aprilia), 2:06.273

Qualifying Session Two Results (all on Bridgestone tires):

1. Marc MARQUEZ, Spain (HONDA), 2:00.011
2. Valentino ROSSI, Italy (YAMAHA), 2:00.336
3. Cal CRUTCHLOW, UK (YAMAHA), 2:00.359
4. Jorge LORENZO, Spain (YAMAHA), 2:00.578
5. Dani PEDROSA, Spain (HONDA), 2:00.692
6. Alvaro BAUTISTA, Spain (HONDA), 2:00.974
7. Bradley SMITH, UK (YAMAHA), 2:01.306
8. Andrea DOVIZIOSO, Italy (DUCATI), 2:01.635
9. Aleix ESPARGARO, Spain (ART-Aprilia), 2:02.151
10. Andrea IANNONE, Italy (DUCATI), 2:02.536
11. Nicky HAYDEN, USA (DUCATI), 2:02.900
12. Stefan BRADL, Germany (HONDA), no time recorded

Combined Qualifying Results:

1. Marc MARQUEZ, Spain (HONDA), 2:00.011
2. Valentino ROSSI, Italy (YAMAHA), 2:00.336
3. Cal CRUTCHLOW, UK (YAMAHA), 2:00.359
4. Jorge LORENZO, Spain (YAMAHA), 2:00.578
5. Dani PEDROSA, Spain (HONDA), 2:00.692
6. Alvaro BAUTISTA, Spain (HONDA), 2:00.974
7. Bradley SMITH, UK (YAMAHA), 2:01.306
8. Andrea DOVIZIOSO, Italy (DUCATI), 2:01.635
9. Aleix ESPARGARO, Spain (ART-Aprilia), 2:02.151
10. Andrea IANNONE, Italy (DUCATI), 2:02.536
11. Nicky HAYDEN, USA (DUCATI), 2:02.900
12. Stefan BRADL, Germany (HONDA), no qualifying time recorded*
13. Colin EDWARDS, USA (FTR-Kawasaki), 2:02.858
14. Claudio CORTI, Italy (FTR-Kawasaki), 2:03.175
15. Hector BARBERA, Spain (FTR-Kawasaki), 2:03.212
16. Hiroshi AOYAMA, Japan (FTR-Kawasaki), 2:03.418
17. Yonny HERNANDEZ, Colombia (DUCATI), 2:03.651
18. Randy DE PUNIET, France (ART-Aprilia), 2:03.805
19. Michael LAVERTY, UK (ART-Aprilia), 2:04.198
20. Danilo PETRUCCI, Italy (IODA/SUTER-BMW), 2:04.310
21. Luca SCASSA, Italy (ART-Aprilia), 2:05.199
22. Bryan STARING, Australia (FTR-Honda), 2:06.038
23. Lukas PESEK, Czech Republic (IODA/SUTER-BMW), 2:06.203
24. Damian CUDLIN, Australia (PBM-Aprilia), 2:06.273

*qualifying position determined by lap times turned during practice

More, from a press release issued by Repsol Honda:

Marquez takes fourth successive pole and sets new lap record with Pedrosa in 5th

Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez has secured his eighth season pole (equalling the number scored by Max Biaggi and Loris Capirossi in the MotoGP era), and fourth in a row, in Qualifying for tomorrow's Malaysian Grand Prix. His time of 2'00.011 came on the final lap in Q2 and marks a new pole record, breaking Lorenzo's time from 2012 (2'00.334) by 0.323s.

Teammate Dani Pedrosa, who has been one of the fastest all weekend, found traffic on track and was unable to make a perfect lap. His time of 2'00.692 places him 5th on the grid for tomorrow's 20 lap race.

Marc Marquez 1st 2'00.011
“I'm really happy with this pole position, particularly as earning it was a little different to with my previous poles. At the start of qualifying there were two completely wet corners, which made it hard to put in a hot lap as we had to calculate the amount of risk - whilst still maintaining our speed. I knew that the final lap of the session would be definitive, because the surface was drying out and conditions were getting better by the minute. Things worked out for us and I set a time that I really wasn't expecting. Tomorrow will be a different story, because Lorenzo and Dani both have a great pace, so we shall see if we have a bit of good fortune and the conditions remain dry"

Dani Pedrosa 5th 2'00.692
“Qualifying today was difficult to tackle, due to the rainfall, but in the end we all opted to go out on slicks. I was not able to clock the best time but I am happy with the pace that we have had during practice. Let's see if tomorrow we can get a good start in the race"

More, from a press release issued by Monster Yamaha Tech 3:

Crutchlow storms to sensational Sepang front row

Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider Cal Crutchlow made a welcome return to the front row of the grid in Malaysia this afternoon, the British rider dodging rain showers throughout the second day at Sepang to finish third fastest in a dramatic conclusion to qualifying.

Rain showers had fallen on and off throughout today’s proceedings and when a downpour fell just minutes before the start of QP2, it looked like the 15-minute session would be disrupted by rain.

Fortunately it was only a very short cloudburst but the session commenced with some corners still damp. Crutchlow though superbly calculated where he could push hard to battle for a third pole position throughout a tense and exciting QP2.

A lap of 2.01.801 put Crutchlow on top of the rankings by just 0.006s over Dani Pedrosa shortly after the halfway stage. And in a frantic last lap sprint in improving conditions, the 27-year-old improved his pace to a 2.00.359 to clinch a deserved spot on the front row of the grid for the seventh time in 2013.

Today’s QP2 session was also a positive experience for rookie Bradley Smith, who too mastered the unpredictable track conditions with supreme confidence to score his best qualifying result since the Czech Republic round in August.

The 22-year-old got a massive confidence in the earlier FP4 session when he set the seventh best time and he took that impressive form into QP2. A best lap of 2.01.306 was just over 0.3s away from clinching a second row start and he will start the physically demanding 20-lap race from seventh position.

Cal Crutchlow 3rd 2.00.359 – 7 laps:
“I am really happy to be back on the front row because it was not an easy session at all. It was hard with a dark visor to see where the track was wet and in some corners it was pretty tricky. It was a bit of a lottery with the damp sections and I think it came down to who was willing to take the most risks right at the end when the track was improving. Today’s result is a great reward for my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew because they have done a brilliant job giving me a very competitive package this weekend. It has been tough for me physically because of the pain coming from my right arm. I first damaged it at Silverstone but the pain has been pretty bad this weekend and I'm a bit surprised because I felt nothing in Misano and Aragon. The swelling is pretty big but I am really motivated for tomorrow’s race. It is going to be a very tough race in the heat and humidity but hopefully I can put up a good fight. It will be hard for the tyres as well because 20-laps is a long race and the tyres have been going off quite quickly.”

Bradley Smith 7th 2.01.306 - 7 laps:
“Today was the first opportunity to see how much I have improved compared to the tests I did here in February. Qualifying was the first time all weekend when I ran low fuel and new tyres like we did in testing and I am happy with the performance to finish seventh. The conditions were not ideal at all and it was a bit sketchy at Turn 6 and 7 after the rain showers. The team though did a great job and I’ve done some longer runs to check tyre life and I’m happy in that area. We have also improved my feeling with a full fuel load, so hopefully I can have a strong race. It will be hard to fight for the top six but my aim will be to get a good start and go with the leading group in the early stages to try and learn as much as possible. A big plus this weekend has been that we have improved in every session and made good progress with the bike set-up, so I’ve got more confidence for the race than normal.”

More, from a press release issued by Yamaha Factory MotoGP Team:

Rossi Scores Second in Sepang Qualifying

Sepang (Malaysia), 12th October 2013

Yamaha Factory Racing rider Valentino Rossi enjoyed his best qualifying heat of the season today scoring second on the grid for tomorrow’s Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix. The 15-minute qualifying heat was one of the most complicated of the season with uncertain track conditions after a pre-session rain shower tested the rider skills to the limit. Having saved a big moment at turn six on his first lap, Rossi put his head down and set a 2’03.499 to take provisional pole position. A flurry of activity at the top followed and the nine-time champion came in to change to a fresh rear tyre in third position. As the last minutes counted down Rossi became a key protagonist in the battle for pole, delivering a scorching 2’00.336 lap to take provisional pole, a position he held for a few seconds before a final hot lap from rival Marc Marquez moved him to second, 0.325 seconds from pole.

Defending world champion Jorge Lorenzo shared a similar experience to his teammate Rossi, having a big moment at turn six on his first lap. Like Rossi he was also able to save it and then returned to the pits to watch the session unfold and decide on a strategy. As the lap times began to tumble he came back out with six minutes remaining and immediately took provisional pole with a 2’00.792 second lap. He kept the pressure on, immediately dropping further with 2’00,578. A lack of trust in the treacherous track conditions held him back from attempting a perfect lap, his time good enough to take fourth on the grid on the second row, 0.567 seconds from pole.

Valentino Rossi
2nd / 2'00.336 / 7 laps

“I’m very happy about today, from this morning we really improved the bike. We worked hard with the team this weekend and I like the set up a lot, I can really push and have a good pace. Just before qualifying it started to rain and everything became more difficult. I expected it to be full dry but two or three corners were not, I had a big moment on the first lap and I was very happy to not crash, I have to say thank you to my Yamaha! After that I tried to push and I made a very good lap time, especially considering the conditions. Now we wait for tomorrow and I hope it will be dry because I think in the dry we are very competitive.”

Jorge Lorenzo
4th / 2'00.578 / 7 laps

“Today we improved the bike a lot and I feel much more comfortable than yesterday. I did a long run in free practice which went quite well. Then before qualifying we changed the bike a little and we were able to improve it further. The problem was in some corners, especially in turn six and turn seven as it was wet. On my second lap I almost crashed there so I didn't trust the corners to be able to make a perfect lap.”

Wilco Zeelenberg
Team Manager
“It was an exciting qualifying, the rain before the practice was of course not ideal and Jorge found out directly on his first lap that it was wet in places. Luckily he didn't crash and then he decided to come in. I think in the second stint he didn't want to do that again so he tried to put the bike in the best possible position with a little bit of safety. Second row is a little disadvantage but with our starts I think we should be fine tomorrow, we’re feeling quite confident.”

Massimo Meregalli
Team Director
“An unusual qualifying session, the rain came just five minutes before starting so the conditions were very tricky. Both Jorge and Vale almost crashed on their first tyres but were lucky. Starting from first and second row here is very important as always. We improved the bike a lot over today and now we are ready to start the race tomorrow. We have to see the weather forecast as unfortunately it looks like it’s going to be wet. We haven’t had any possibility to do any practice in the wet conditions so it’s going to be interesting tomorrow.”

More, from a press release issued by NGM Mobile Forward Racing:

2nd and 3rd best qualifying CRTs for Edwards and Corti at Sepang

NGM Mobile Forward Racing riders Colin Edwards and Claudio Corti qualify in 13th and 14th place on the starting grid for the Shell Advance Malaysian Grand Prix race.

Colin Edwards lead Q1 alongside Aleix Espargaro for most of the session but was unable to stay in the Top2 and enter Q2 as Andrea Ianonne took the lead making him finish in 3rd place in Q1 and as 2nd best CRT.

Italian teammate Claudio Corti finished in 4th pace in Q1 and as 3rd best CRT today at Sepang. Corti has solved the setting problems had during the first day of free practices and seems to have found a good feeling with his FTR – Kawasaki bike, allowing him to feel more comfortable on his bike and improve his lap times considerably.

Both riders will start from the 5th row with their FTR – Kawasaki bike and will aim for best CRT. The MotoGP race will begin tomorrow at 16:00h local time at the Sepang International

Colin Edwards

“We struggled all weekend with the electronics. At this track you stay on the edge for a long time, stay on neutral throttle for a long time and it was just confusing our electronics. My guys are awesome and they got it right just in the nick of time, just before we went out and it all worked out good, I am comfortable with the bike. We tried a different setting this morning to get more grip but we got too much grip so we are actually sacrificing a bit of grip to get in faster lap times by getting the bike to turn easier. It’s not very often that I complain of having too much grip. I’m happy, qualifying went as good as we could have hoped so thanks to my guys."

Claudio Corti

“Today went much better for us specially in terms of my race pace, I was able to rely on the bike and relax, making it feel easier and safer to ride. It came as a surprise to me that we were able to improve our lap times as much as we did. I have been able to have a pace of high 2´03s when yesterday I was pushing myself to the limit at every corner just to be able to make 2´04.8, we have definitely made a big step. This afternoon we have found that half a second that we needed for qualifying in order to be able to start tomorrow’s race further up the grid and that’s what we have done. We have made our choice of tires for the race and they seem to last all race long so we will see how it goes tomorrow. If it doesn’t rain we are ready for it but if it does we will have to see what happens then.”

Sergio Verbena, MotoGP Technical Director

“Today it has been a very positive day for us, we have been able to solve the problem that we had with both riders yesterday and have qualified in 13th and 14th for tomorrow’s race. Today we were second and third CRTs and more importantly the gap with the first CRT is very small. Both riders have done a great job; at the end of qualifying we changed the tire in order to improve little bit more. Colin could have probably improved of about 2 tents, which is what he needed in order to be able to enter Q2 but 3 minutes before the end of the session it started raining. We will start the race from the 5th row, both riders have a good race pace and we will have to wait in order to see how it goes. We know that this race will be physically demanding and it will be important to see what s the riders handle it.”

More, from a press release issued by Ducati Corse:

Difficult qualifying session for Ducati Team in Malaysia

Today’s MotoGP Q2 session took place in extremely challenging conditions at Sepang International Circuit. Following a lunchtime rain shower, the track surface was spotted with damp patches when the session kicked off, and with the possibility that the weather could worsen again, riders were forced to ride very close to the limit. Instead, the situation improved toward the end of the session, making it possible for riders to drop their times in the final laps.

Andrea Dovizioso managed the situation well and set his best time of 2:01.635 on his very last lap, putting him eighth best at 1.6 seconds from pole-man Marc Marquez. Nicky Hayden, meanwhile, wasn’t satisfied with his performance in the damp Turn 6, which contributed to his eleventh-place finish. The Ducati Team riders will start tomorrow’s Shell Advance Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix from the third and fourth rows, respectively.

Andrea Dovizioso - Ducati Team, 8th (2:01.635)
“The session was a bit more challenging than usual, and very dangerous because the colour of the asphalt here is strange—quite light—and it’s difficult to see where it’s wet. In fact, many of us risked crashing on our out-laps, in Turn 6. It was damp and I didn’t see if there were any flags, and slicks don’t work very well in those conditions! It was very difficult to manage, because the track dried quickly in the heat, but we could only push at 100% on the last lap; in those circumstances, it depends how much you want to risk. I kept a bit of margin in those two corners, but I pushed hard on the rest—I hadn’t done a 2:01.6 the entire weekend, so it’s not bad considering I didn’t push hard in that section. We’ll see how things go in the race tomorrow, but at least we start from the third row.”

Nicky Hayden - Ducati Team, 11th (2:02.900)
“It’s a real shame about how my qualifying session went, and it was my fault. In FP4 I went the quickest I’ve been all weekend and had the best feeling, and I thought I could maybe do something better in qualifying. Unfortunately, a rain shower came through at lunchtime, and when I went out I had a bad feeling with my GP13, especially in the wet part at Turn 6. It was really hard to see where the track was wet and where it was dry and to understand how much grip it had. That’s no excuse, as everybody improved their lap times and I didn’t. I just couldn’t get hooked up through the wet part. It was my problem and I apologize to the team. We’ll see if we can recover something tomorrow.”

More, from a press release issued by Pramac Racing:

Despite the improvement Andrea Iannone made in his lap time during this morning’s FP3 at Sepang International Circuit, the Italian finished the session in twelfth position and therefore had to take part in every session on this on day two of the fifteenth round of the MotoGP World Championship.

Iannone dominated Q1, registering his best time of the weekend so far, 2.02.326, and then climbed back on his DesmosediciGP13 to face the last session of the day. Rain had fallen in the meantime, making the track conditions unpredictable, and the Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Team rider finished in tenth place. He’ll start tomorrow’s race from the fourth row of the grid.

Andrea Iannone – Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Team
“Today we were able to improve the bike. We worked well, so I’m pleased and must thank my whole team. We changed some things on the front, and now I’m more confident on the brakes; I can brake harder and the grip is slightly better. Although it’s not yet what we’d like to have, it's better. The important thing is that during the whole weekend we were able to feel the changes we made, whether the feedback was positive or negative. This helped us to follow the right path, and to improve in the right areas. I'm happy. In the last session, maybe I would’ve been faster if I had changed the tyre a bit earlier, but I feel I can have a good race and will definitely try. I started Q1 with used tyres and changed them right before the end, which is when I recorded the best time to get into Q2. Then the track was wet in some places, and it wasn’t easy, but in the end we’re in the top ten. Right now I don’t know if rain could really be a problem tomorrow. We'll see.”

More, from another press release issued by Pramac Racing:

Yonny Hernandez began the second day of the 15th round of the World Championship at the Sepang International Circuit, by improving the time he obtained yesterday during FP2 and moving up one place in the standings.

The unpredictable weather conditions in the area and the challenging and fast Malaysian circuit however, did not allow Yonny to get the desired results.

The Colombian rider’s day ended after first qualifying, which was in part ruined by the rain that began to fall a few minutes before the end on the final sector of the track. Until then the Ignite Pramac Racing Team rider’s lap time had been constantly improving, but the early stop of the session slowed down his run into Q2.

Yonny Hernandez – Ignite Pramac Racing Team
"Today I am a bit disappointed because I was hoping to make a better qualifying practice, but when I started to push harder and I knew I could improve my time, it started to rain. Qualifying did not go well, but I feel I have maintained a good pace today and I am positive for tomorrow. I’ll give it all. I do not know the circuit very well and I did the test on a totally different bike. With this one I am much faster and the braking point is different. I have to be concentrated because both the lines and the riding are obviously changed. Tomorrow I hope to do the same as Aragon, I would like to make a good start and to find immediately my own rhythm in order to make a good race. "

More, from a press release issued by Bridgestone:

Marquez smashes lap record in Malaysian MotoGP™ qualifying

Round 15: Malaysian MotoGP™ - Qualifying Practice
Sepang International Circuit, Saturday 12 October 2013

Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Medium & Hard. Rear: Soft, Medium (Symmetric) & Hard (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Hard (Main) & Soft (Alternative)
Weather: FP3 - Dry. Ambient 28-28°C; Track 34-35°C (Bridgestone measurement)
FP4/QP - Dry. Ambient 29-30°C; Track 36-41°C (Bridgestone measurement)

Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez set yet another qualifying lap record at Sepang, the current MotoGP™ championship leader clocking a time of 2’00.011 to shave three-tenths of a second off the existing mark.

Marquez claimed his eighth pole position of the season on his last timed lap and will line up on the front now next to a pair of Yamaha riders. Yamaha Factory Racing’s Valentino Rossi’s time of 2’00.336 slots the nine-time World Champion in at second on the grid for tomorrow’s race, while Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Cal Crutchlow was third quickest and a mere 0.023 seconds behind Rossi. Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro topped Qualifying Practice 1 and showed strong pace in QP2 by qualifying in ninth place with a time of 2’02.151.

Conditions were predominantly dry today, the exception being a rain shower at the end of QP1 which caused a premature ending to the session, and caused created greasy track conditions for the start of QP2. Track conditions improved throughout the second qualifying session, with the pace being the quickest of the weekend and most riders using the combination of the softer front and rear slicks. Some riders assessed the hard compound front slick tyre in practice, although the softer front and rear slicks are still preferred by most riders and will be the most widely used options should the race be dry.

The final session before tomorrow’s race is the Warm Up session at 1140 local time (GMT +8), with the twenty lap Malaysian MotoGP™ race set to start at 1600.

Masao Azuma – Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
“We had the same kind of weather conditions and track temperatures as yesterday, and this was reflected in the tyre choices by the riders today being quite similar to what was used in Friday practice. The softer slick options were again preferred by the majority of riders, although feedback from some of the CRT riders indicates that some of them could choose the harder options for the race, particularly for the front tyre. Given the rain we had at the end of QP1, the pace in QP2 was extremely quick which shows how the improved feel offered by our latest generation of tyres gives riders the confidence to attack in less than ideal conditions. It was also pleasing to see another qualifying lap record broken and overall it was a positive day for Bridgestone here at Sepang.”

More, from a press release issued by Dorna Communications:

Marc Marquez will start from a fourth consecutive MotoGP™ pole position for the Shell Advance Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix. Multiple Sepang winner Valentino Rossi lines up second from Britain’s Cal Crutchlow, with title contenders Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa on the second row of the grid.

Having crashed out in dramatic fashion at MotorLand Aragón, it was Pedrosa who topped the first three practice sessions at the Sepang International Circuit. However, when it came to qualifying, the 2012 race winner was unable to muster anything other than fifth place, six tenths of a second down on Marquez’s 2’00.011 pole which breaks Casey Stoner’s record of six years ago. This marks Marquez’s eighth pole of 2013, his fourth in succession and fifth from the latest six race events.

Rain had hit just before Qualifying 2, yet had dried out in most places of the track for slicks to be a viable option. However, riders were initially cautious, with many avoiding near crashes at Turn 6, which was still damp. Only in their second runs were riders able to push closer to their true potential.

In a repeat of the German GP front row, albeit with the second and third-placed riders reversed, Rossi and Crutchlow will start second and third for their respective Yamaha Factory Racing and Monster Yamaha Tech3 outfits. In the case of the nine-time World Champion, he provisionally held pole position after enjoying a slipstream from Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso down the back straight, whereas Crutchlow celebrates a first front row start since his home race at Silverstone last month.

Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing), who won his first MotoGP™ title at Sepang in 2010, will start fourth after missing out on pole by half a second. Behind the reigning World Champion, Marquez’s teammate Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) misses the front row despite his rapid pace throughout practice, while the championship contenders will be accompanied on Row 2 by Alvaro Bautista; incidentally, the GO&FUN Honda Gresini rider will rise to sixth in the riders’ standings if he finishes fifth or higher in the race, as LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl was put out of action after suffering a right ankle fracture through a crash in final practice.

Row 3 will consist of Tech3’s Bradley Smith, equalling his second best MotoGP™ qualifying position of seventh from the aforementioned Dovizioso and leading CRT runner Aleix Espargaro (Power Electronics Aspar), who passed through to the final shootout from Q1. Andrea Iannone rounds out the top ten for Energy T.I. Pramac Racing from Ducati Team’s Nicky Hayden, whereas the absent Bradl qualified 12th but is now set to return to Barcelona for surgery. This promotes NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards to a fourth row position, with the grid completed by Damian Cudlin who contrary to initial plans races again with PBM this weekend.

Heading into Sunday’s race, which begins at 4pm local time (GMT +8) and with rain expected by many, Marquez heads Lorenzo in the standings by 39 points. Pedrosa is third overall and 59 points off the lead, meaning he could be mathematically ruled out of title contention depending on the results of Sunday’s 15th round of the season.


Tito Rabat continued his domination of the Sepang weekend by clinching pole position for the Moto2™ Shell Advance Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix. Having locked out every session so far, the Spaniard retained the top spot, but both Tom Luthi and Pol Espargaro were less than one tenth of a second slower. Championship leader Scott Redding will start the race from tenth on the grid.

Sublime all weekend, Rabat sealed his second pole (his first having come in Jerez) with a 2’07.063 lap time. As he and Tuenti HP 40 teammate Espargaro sandwich Interwetten Paddock Moto2 Racing’s Luthi into second place, Espargaro is seven positions in front of championship rival Redding, who once again struggle with traffic; however, Redding started 13th last time out in Aragón but was able to finish one position behind Espargaro. At present, the Englishman heads Espargaro by 20 points, with Rabat 44 behind the leader.

Row 2 will be filled by Came Iodaracing Project’s Johann Zarco, Marc VDS Racing Team’s Mika Kallio and Italtrans Racing Team’s Takaaki Nakagami, who re-joined the session after a crash at the final corner. Alex de Angelis will line up seventh for NGM Mobile Forward Racing from Xavier Simeon (Maptaq SAG Zelos Team) and Jordi Torres (Aspar Team Moto2). Joining Redding on Row 4 will be Dominique Aegerter (Technomag carXpert) and Marcel Schrotter (Maptaq SAG Zelos Team).


Moto3™ championship leader Luis Salom has clinched pole position for the Shell Advance Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix, his third of the season. Alexis Masbou and Niccolo Antonelli shone for front row places, while title contenders Alex Rins and Maverick Viñales qualified sixth and ninth, respectively.

Having been seemingly off the pace at Sepang on Friday, Salom (Red Bull KTM Ajo) sent out a warning to rivals by topping the final practice session on Saturday morning. He went on to clinch his first pole for almost four months courtesy of a leading lap time of 2’13.867. The Mallorcan now targets a first victory since Silverstone.

The standout performers were arguably France’s Masbou and Italy’s Antonelli, riding FTR Hondas for their respective Ongetta-Rivacold and GO&FUN Gresini Moto3 outfits. Second place marks Masbou’s best ever World Championship qualifying result, while Antonelli’s first front row slot of the season equals a career best.

Miguel Oliveira will start fourth for Mahindra Racing, ahead of Estrella Galicia 0,0 duo Alex Marquez and Alex Rins, with Rins having won the last two races and heading into this event only nine points behind championship leader and pole-sitter Salom. Caretta Technology – RTG’s Jack Miller and Mahindra’s Efren Vazquez will head Row 3 from Team Calvo’s Viñales.

Viñales - who has demonstrated tremendous consistency so far this year - is currently third in the standings and only 12 points in arrears of Salom, but finds himself ninth on the grid after qualifying seven tenths of a second slower. The top ten was completed by Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3’s Jonas Folger, while local favourite Zulfahmi Khairuddin managed 14th for Red Bull KTM Ajo despite having undergone surgery only last week in order to assist a fractured right wrist.

Also suffering a fractured right wrist, due to separate incidents in this morning’s respective final practice and qualifying sessions, were Kiefer Racing’s Florian Alt and La Fonte Tascaracing’s Alessandro Tonucci; as a result, neither will take any further part in the event. At the end of Qualifying, there was a crash for Ambrogio Racing’s Brad Binder who will start 23rd on the grid.

More, from a press release issued by Honda:


World Championship leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda RC213V) scorched to his eighth pole position of the season at sweltering Sepang this afternoon. Qualifying was made somewhat treacherous when a rain shower dampened part of the circuit, causing many riders a frightening moment or two. However, the track was dry enough by the end of the 15 minute session for Marquez to increase his pace and establish a new qualifying record. This pole was his fourth in a row, following on from Silverstone, Misano and Aragon.

The remarkable 20-year-old carries a 39 point advantage into tomorrow’s race which is arguably the toughest of the year due to the heat and high humidity that push riders, bikes and tyres to the limit.

Team-mate Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V) ended the outing in fifth place to start tomorrow’s race from the middle of the second row. The Spaniard, who is still experiencing pain from his highside crash at Aragon two weeks ago, topped free practice but when the rain came down before qualifying, he decided to take fewer risks than usual, rather than chance aggravating his injuries with another tumble. Winner here last year, the former 250 and 125 World Champion is taking painkilling pills to tackle the discomfort he has from his bruised right hip and left buttock.

Alvaro Bautista (Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini
RC213V) will start the race next to Pedrosa after qualifying sixth fastest. The Spaniard had been confident of a good qualifying session but he wasn’t able to fully evaluate a settings change during the final free practice session. That and the tricky conditions prevented him from reaching his own limit.

Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda RC213V) was ruled out of tomorrow’s race when he slid off at Turn One during FP4, shortly before qualifying got underway. The German lost the front in what shouldn’t have been an injurious crash, then caught his right foot as he slid of the track and fractured the ankle. The former Moto2 World Champion will have the break fixed by specialists as soon as possible with the hope of riding in next weekend’s Australian GP. The injury is a real blow for the German who has been gathering momentum at recent races. He had ended free practice here a close fourth fastest.

Bryan Staring (GO&FUN Honda Gresini FTR Honda) put his CRT machine 22nd on the grid. The Australian isn’t happy with his pace and hopes he can find something extra for the race.

Outside contender for the Moto2 World
Championship Esteve Rabat (Tuenti HP 40 Pons
Kalex) took pole position in the hard-fought Honda-powered category, his first since May’s Spanish GP, which he won. The Spaniard ended the session a slender 0.018 seconds ahead of Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Paddock Suter). Pol Espargaro (Tuenti HP40 Pons Kalex), who currently lies second in the title battle, took the final spot on the front row, 0.080 seconds behind Luthi, which means that the front row is covered by less than one tenth of a second.

Johann Zarco (Came Ioda Racing Project Suter) was three tenths further back to lead row two in fourth place, just ahead of Mika Kallio (Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex) and Takaaki Nakagami (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex).

The third row consists of Alex De Angelis ((NGM Mobile Forward Racing Speed Up), Xavier Simeon (Desguaces La Torre Maptaq Kalex) and Jordi Torres (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2 Suter). World Championship leader Scott Redding (Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex) could do no better than tenth,
0.917 seconds off pole, due to rear-grip issues.

Moto3 qualifying started on a damp track, which gave Alexis Masbou, (Ongetta-Rivacold FTR Honda), Romano Fenati (San Carlo Team Italia FTR Honda) and Jack Miller (Caretta Technology – RTG FTR
Honda) the chance to show their talent. At one point the Frenchman, Italian and Australian were first, second and third.

Masbou kept up his impressive pace to end the session in second place, just over a tenth of a second behind World Championship leader Luis Salom (KTM). It was the Frenchman’s best grid position of the year and he thinks he can run at the front tomorrow, so long as he gets away with the lead group.

Just as impressive was Italian teenager Niccolo Antonelli (GO&FUN Gresini FTR Honda) in third place, making it two Hondas on the front row.

Miller ended the session in seventh place to lead the third row. The next Honda men were Fenati in 13th and Isaac Vinales (Bimbo Ongetta-Centro Seta FTR Honda) in 18th.

Tomorrow’s Malaysian GP is the first of three consecutive races, with the Australian and Japanese GPs following over the next two Sundays.

Honda MotoGP rider quotes

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda: pole position, 2m 00.011s “I’m really happy with this pole position, particularly as earning it was a little different to my previous poles. At the start of qualifying there were two completely wet corners, which made it hard to put in a hot lap as we had to calculate the amount of risk, whilst still maintaining our speed. I knew that the final lap of the session would be definitive, because the surface was drying out and conditions were getting better by the minute. Things worked out for us and I set a time that I really wasn’t expecting. Tomorrow will be a different story, because Lorenzo and Dani both have a great pace, so we shall see if we have a bit of good fortune and the conditions remain dry.”

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 5th, 2m 00.692s “Qualifying today was difficult to tackle, due to the rainfall, but in the end we all opted to go out on slicks. I was not able to clock the best time but I am happy with the pace that we have had during practice. Let’s see if tomorrow we can get a good start in the race.”

Alvaro Bautista, Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini: 6th, 2m 00.974s “The second row is not bad considering what a tough day we have had today. We worked hard this morning to improve our pace and made a little progress but not enough. We worked on a different setting in the final free practice this afternoon, based on what we used in preseason testing, and it felt good but it only lasted for a lap because we had a little problem. So we went out in qualifying not feeling entirely confident with the setting and with the track conditions being less than perfect in a few places because of the rain. Overall if things had worked out better for us I could have gone much faster but the second row is still important. We have a few things to check with the setting in morning warm-up and then hopefully we can have a strong race.”

Stefan Bradl, LCR Honda MotoGP: DNS
“I was quite confident in the final practice and we were on a new tyre to get ready for QP2. So I started to push but for some reasons I felt a bit strange with the rear tyre because I could not get the proper grip quickly. Thus I tried to push on braking a bit too much for the first corner so I lost the front. Honestly it was not a heavy crash but I was unlucky. The handle bar of my bike hit the plastic grass and it comes up (not flat anymore) and my right leg got stuck in there. I immediately felt the pain and the x-ray exam reveals the fracture of the right malleolus.”

Bryan Staring, GO&FUN Honda Gresini: 2m 06.038s “I am pretty disappointed to be honest because we have not made much progress on the lap times we set here during preseason testing. I can’t honestly explain exactly why this is but clearly we’re not fast enough. Hopefully we will have a turnaround overnight.”

Moto2 rider quotes

Esteve Rabat, Tuenti HP 40 Pons: pole position, 2m 07.063s “I’m very happy with this pole position and even more so with my rhythm for the race because it’s very good. We have found a very good bike set-up for tomorrow which makes me feel quite confident.
As always, I will give my 100 per cent, try and get a good start and see what’s the best result we can achieve at the end of the race.”

Thomas Luthi, Interwetten Paddock: 2nd, 2m 07.081s “I hope I can go with Tito [Rabat]. He has been very strong all weekend, and yesterday I didn’t think it would be possible to catch him but now we are very close. We have been getting better all weekend, so I hope that the race will be dry.
I felt confident in qualifying and we have a good pace. In the race I hope Tito cannot make the early break like he did at Aragon.”

Pol Espargaro, Tuenti HP40 Pons: 3rd, 2m 07.161s “The race will be hard because the heat here is amazing. I’m surprised because I didn’t expect to be on the front row. We made an amazing improvement in FP3 – we tried a different tyre and a completely different setting from yesterday. The weekend is going very well. We have a good rhythm and tomorrow we will see what happens in the race.”

Honda Moto3 Rider quotes

Alexis Masbou, Ongetta-Rivacold: 2nd, 2m 13.985s “That was good! The track was still damp in a few places, so the conditions weren’t perfect, which helped us because I don’t think second place would’ve been possible in normal conditions. But I was very nearly fastest in FP1, so we are going pretty well here, especially since I lost a little time on my best lap when someone got in my way. I had a crash this morning – I made a mistake when I was trying a different tyre.
Tomorrow I will try and go with the first group – we have the rhythm – but it will depend on the start and the first few laps. It won’t be easy because we have two long straights here.”

Niccolo Antonelli, GO&FUN Gresini: 3rd, 2m 14.006s “I am delighted to have qualified on the front row and to finally get my hands on a new cap! The team have done a great job and I have been able to repay them with a performance that gives us all a great boost. We have been making good progress for the last few races and this result confirms our good form. It won’t be an easy race tomorrow but starting from the front row will be important and I want to make the most of the opportunity ahead of me.”

Jack Miller, Caretta Technology – RTG: 7th, 2m 14.436s “That could’ve been better but nevertheless it was all right. The track was still damp at the last corner and in the change of direction between five and six – a couple of times the bike lit up. Things are going pretty good – the bike is pretty strong and I think the KTMs are struggling a bit with the humidity. It could’ve been a different story if the track had been fully dry, but seventh is good enough, we can deal with it.”
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