MotoGP: Fabio Quartararo Claims Pole Position With Another Lap Record, Marc Marquez Crashes Hard At Sepang (Updated)

MotoGP: Fabio Quartararo Claims Pole Position With Another Lap Record, Marc Marquez Crashes Hard At Sepang (Updated)

© 2019, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. By David Swarts.

Race Lap Record: 2:00.606, Jorge Lorenzo, 2015

All-Time Lap Record: 1:58.303, Fabio Quartararo, 2019

FIM MotoGP World Championship

Sepang International Circuit

Sepang, Malaysia

November 2, 2019

Qualifying Results (all using Michelin tires):

From Qualifying Session Two:

  1. Fabio Quartararo, France (Yam YZR-M1), 1:58.303 (New All-Time Lap Record)
  2. Maverick Vinales, Spain (Yam YZR-M1), 1:58.406
  3. Franco Morbidelli, Italy (Yam YZR-M1), 1:58.432
  4. Jack Miller, Australia (Duc GP19), 1:58.725
  5. Cal Crutchlow, UK (Hon RC213V), 1:58.951
  6. Valentino Rossi, Italy (Yam YZR-M1), 1:59.000
  7. Alex Rins, Spain (Suz GSX-RR), 1:59.090
  8. Danilo Petrucci, Italy (Duc GP19), 1:59.097
  9. Johann Zarco, France (Hon RC213V), 1:59.139
  10. Andrea Dovizioso, Italy (Duc GP19), 1:59.173
  11. Marc Marquez, Spain (Hon RC213V), 1:59.178, crash
  12. Francesco Bagnaia, Italy (Duc GP19), 1:59.640

From Qualifying Session One:

13. Joan Mir, Spain (Suz GSX-RR), 1:59.374

14. Aleix Espargaro, Spain (Apr RS-GP), 1:59.435

15. Pol Espargaro, Spain (KTM RC16), 1:59.812

16. Karel Abraham, Czech Republic (Duc GP18), 2:00.072

17. Andrea Iannone, Italy (Apr RS-GP), 2:00.205

18. Jorge Lorenzo, Spain (Hon RC213V), 2:00.478

19. Mika Kallio, Finland (KTM RC16), 2:00.644

20. Hafizh Syahrin, Malaysia (KTM RC16), 2:01.045

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Dorna:

Quartararo claims stunning home pole for Petronas Yamaha SRT

Marquez crashes after shadowing the Frenchman in Q2, Yamaha lock out the front row

Saturday, 02 November 2019

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 1:58.303 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 twitch at the final corner threatened to spoil a phenomenal lap but, although losing time, Quartararo took the chequered flag to take an immense fifth pole of 2019 and his sixth consecutive front row start.

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). 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.

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.

Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) and Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) complete the top fifteen.

The Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix was already set up to impress, but a tale of two halves for Marquez and a few of his biggest rivals mean Sunday is really poised for a showdown. Who can take the heat? Find out at 15:00 (GMT +8) as the lights go out for the premier class.

Marquez faces second match point from pole

Spaniard back on top at Sepang as he leads Nagashima and Binder in qualifying

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 teammate – 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.

That’s all she wrote for the intermediate class on Saturday, with the lights set to go out at 13:20 (GMT +2) on Sunday for the penultimate race of the year. Will Marquez wrap it up this time around? Or can Lüthi, Binder or Navarro keep the fight rolling on to Valencia?

Ramirez rakes in second pole in succession

The Spaniard heads Suzuki and McPhee as Moto3™ just escape the rain

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.

Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) starts P12, although key rival for second overall, Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers), didn’t make it out of Q1. Who will take the spoils on Sunday? Find out at 13:20 local time (GMT +8).

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Red Bull KTM Tech3:

Syahrin starts home Grand Prix from seventh row

 

Red Bull KTM Tech3‘s local hero Hafizh Syahrin did his personal fastest lap at the Sepang International Circuit so far today in Q1, where he went 0.538 seconds quicker than his best time yesterday. Although the Malaysian pushed to the maximum, he missed out on the top spot of the short session by 1.829 seconds, eager to improve on his position come race day. The penultimate round of the 2019 MotoGP World Championship season is set to kick off at 15.00 local time (8.00 CET) tomorrow.

Hafizh Syahrin
 

Position: 20th

Time: 2:01.045

Laps: 6

“I have the feeling we managed to find a small improvement. It’s nothing huge, but better than nothing. We are still far from the top guys. I couldn’t use the soft tyre today, because we are quite sure it will not endure the entire race distance, so we already opted for the medium one. I hope I can find a good rhythm in the Warm Up tomorrow, let’s see what we can do later. Above all I wish I can enjoy my home race on Sunday together with all the people here.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Aprilia Gresini Racing:

ALEIX JUST MISSES Q2 AND HAS TO SETTLE FOR THE FIFTH ROW

SIXTH ROW FOR ANDREA IANNONE

In motorsports, thousandths of seconds make the difference. This is no common place. Just analyse the performance today by Aleix Espargaró: in a frenetic FP3 session, the Aprilia rider missed a spot in the top 10 (which would have sent him straight through to Q2) by 78 thousandths. Then, in Q1, it was a difference of just 99 thousandths that denied Aleix access to the final qualifying session for the second time. His fourteenth place at the end of the day translates into the fifth row for a race which promises to be rather treacherous in terms of tyre wear if the weather remains as predicted.

Andrea Iannone will start from three spots farther back on the grid after working hard preparing for the race to make up the time lost yesterday. The Italian rider proved to be rather competitive in the first two sectors, whereas he seems to have some limitations on the second half of the track.

ALEIX ESPARGARÒ

“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.”

ANDREA IANNONE

“Unfortunately, this is a track that does not hide our limitations, so we need to face a reality that is not very easy. In the first two sectors performance is good, whereas the second half of the track gives us some trouble. We tested rather different setups and we still have some things to test tomorrow. We’ll keep trying to improve.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Team Suzuki ECSTAR:

SEVENTH ON SATURDAY IN SEPANG FOR RINS, MIR 13TH
 

Alex Rins: 7th – 1:59.090

Joan Mir: 13th – 1:59.374

• Alex Rins perseveres for third row start tomorrow.

• Joan Mir unlucky to be knocked out of Q2 graduation.

• Team prepare for unpredictable Malaysian Grand Prix.

 

Saturday morning’s FP3 session was dry and warm, meaning the riders had the opportunity to improve their positions. Joan Mir went 2nd with around 10 minutes to go, but patchy rain moving in made it tricky to keep up a quick pace. Rins and Mir therefore finished 9th and 11th respectively.

FP4 saw slightly mixed conditions as drizzle set in, but Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s riders still found the session useful to prepare for qualifying. Mir finished in 7th, while Alex Rins was 11th.

When the afternoon’s Q1 rolled around, Mir took to the track in determined fashion. The rookie rode impressively, constantly placing himself at the top of the time sheets and defending well. However, with just moments left on the clock he was bumped down the order by Petrucci and then Crutchlow, with no time left to try for another quick lap, Joan will have to start from 13th on the grid tomorrow.

Q2 was busy and hectic for the twelve riders participating, all hoping to string together a good run on the long track in the 15-minute session. A lot of very hot laps began coming in, but Rins was prepared for a final push and he claimed 7th place; a third-row start for tomorrow’s 20-lap race.

Davide Brivio – Team Manager:

“In the end, Alex managed to qualifying 7th, which isn’t bad, and he has good pace. We can fight with the top guys tomorrow, let’s wait and see the situation. Joan was really unlucky to miss out on final qualifying by such a tiny amount, he deserved to be in Q2. Starting from 13th will be harder, but he also has good pace. We’re looking forward to tomorrow, trying our best and see how it will go.”

Alex Rins:

“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.”

Joan Mir:

“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.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team:

PETRONAS Yamaha SRT stun Sepang with double front row

PETRONAS Yamaha SRT duo Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli score first and third in qualifying at team’s home race

Malaysian GP – 2 November 2019

Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli have stunned PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team’s home crowd in qualifying for tomorrow’s Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix, with the pair set to start the race at the Sepang International Circuit in first and third respectively. Topping every session of the weekend so far, it marks the fourth time this season that the pair will line up together on the front row.

Quartararo was able to build on the superb form that saw him top the overall times yesterday when qualifying got underway, immediately showing his intentions. Going on to break the Sepang circuit’s absolute lap record for the third time this weekend, he ended qualifying at the head of an all-Yamaha front row with a lap time of 1min 58.303secs. Taking the 12th front row start of his rookie season, his time left him 0.103secs clear of fellow Yamaha rider Maverick Viñales.

Morbidelli was also out to prove a point in the 15-minute session after conquering today’s two practice sessions to ensure that the top honours were shared between him and his team-mate going into qualifying. Catching traffic on his time attack lap in the final seconds of the session, he wasn’t able to capitalise on his fast form and was forced to settle for third place with a time of 1min 58.432secs, a mere 0.029secs from second and his fourth front-row start of 2019.

Both Quartararo and Morbidelli will use a special livery in tomorrow’s home GP thanks to title sponsor PETRONAS and their #tambahpowerPSRT campaign.

Track action at the 2019 Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix concludes tomorrow with Sunday’s 20-lap race at the Sepang International Circuit getting underway at 1500 local time.

Franco Morbidelli: 

“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.”
 

Fabio Quartararo:

“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.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Monster Energy Yamaha:

VIÑALES AND ROSSI TAKE FIRST AND SECOND ROW IN SEPANG SHOOT-OUT
 
Sepang (Malaysia), 2nd November 2019
 
GRAND PRIX OF MALAYSIA
 
QUALIFYING

Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi pushed hard during today‘s Q2, ahead of tomorrow’s Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix. With dark clouds looming above the Sepang International Circuit, the team-mates went for it right from the start of the 15-minute session. They secured second and sixth place respectively on the grid.

Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP team-mates Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi showed confidence in today‘s Q2 session. Viñales was one of the favourites to take pole but had to ultimately settle for second place. Valentino Rossi put in an early charge too and later completed the qualifying earning sixth position on the grid.

Viñales began his Q2 challenge by slotting into sixth place to then push and take over at the top with his second try, an amazing 1‘58.676s lap. Because of the length of the Sepang International Circuit, he couldn‘t get another fast lap in on his first tyre. The Spaniard was the last rider to arrive back at pit lane, but it was all part of his plan in an effort to avoid towing riders.

As the second half of the 15-minute shoot-out started, Franco Morbidelli put in his bid for pole, moving the Factory Yamaha rider down to second. However, with a fully clear track ahead, Viñales wouldn‘t give up without a fight. He responded with a 1‘58.406s to reclaim first place, be it just temporarily. A late hot lap from Fabio Quartararo moved the number-12 rider to second, 0.103s from pole. He will start tomorrow‘s race from the middle of an all-Yamaha front row.

Rossi was strong in FP4 and continued the momentum at the start of the Q2 session. He set the benchmark lap, putting his Yamaha in provisional first place with a 1‘59.313s, but he was later pushed back to seventh as he completed his second try. Unable to further improve, he headed back to the pits for a fresh set of tyres with slightly less than six minutes remaining.

The Italian was in the midst of the rider field pushing out flying laps on his second run. He was determined to get a good starting position and moved up to fifth on his next effort. The chequered flag came out shortly afterwards, but the Doctor had one more lap left. Many riders were upping their pace, but number 46 dug deep and produced a 1‘59.000s lap for sixth, 0.697s from the front, earning himself a place on the second row.

Following the tragic loss of Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup rider Afridza Munandar this afternoon, Yamaha wish to express their sincere condolences to the family, friends, and loved ones of Munandar.

MASSIMO MEREGALLI

TEAM DIRECTOR

“It‘s been another positive day for us in Sepang. Maverick and Valentino show great pace at all the track sections, so we feel quite ready for tomorrow‘s race. Even though both riders are mostly satisfied with their bikes, we will try to see if there are still some small areas where we can improve. We did well with the tyre comparison with a view to the race, and we have a general idea of what direction we will take. Having both riders on the first two rows was our goal for today, because it plays a crucial part in having them in place to fight at the front in tomorrow‘s GP. A full Yamaha front row is once again showing the improvements we made this year, our work is paying off. Now we are putting it all together, so tomorrow we have to realise our potential and get the job done.”

MAVERICK VIÑALES

“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.”

VALENTINO ROSSI

“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.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by LCR Honda Castrol:

CRUTCHLOW FIFTH QUALIFIES AS LEADING HONDA AT SEPANG

Cal Crutchlow came on strong in qualifying to ensure he will start from the second row of the grid in Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix. The LCR Honda CASTROL rider needed to be patient as he was forced to come through Q1, but will now be hopeful of battling for another podium following his runner-up finish at Phillip Island last week.

Sitting tenth overnight, Crutchlow missed out on automatic qualification for Q2 as he slipped down to 12th in the combined times after FP3, despite going tenth fastest in the session. But he produced a brilliant final lap to top the timesheets in Q1 and carried that momentum into Q2 as he took fifth position to finish up as the leading Honda.

Cal Crutchlow – 5th

(1’58.951 – lap 7 of 7)

“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.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Red Bull KTM:

ESPARGARO TO START SHELL MALAYSIAN GRAND PRIX FROM 15TH ON THE GRID

The heat and track conditions of the Sepang International Circuit created difficult conditions in qualification for the Red Bull KTM riders at what was the penultimate round of 2019 MotoGP. Pol Espargaro was the top performer on the KTM RC16 and will occupy 15th place on the grid for the 20 laps tomorrow. Meanwhile KTM fought for front row spaces in Moto2 and Moto3 with Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Brad Binder filling 3rd spot in the intermediate class.

The Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix drew MotoGP together again for the third week in a row and for the eighteenth round of nineteen. The heat and humidity surrounding the Sepang International circuit, with its challenging mix of turns and two long straights, created conditions that caused some head scratching for the Red Bull KTM contingent. All three riders strived to find effective rear grip to get near the top ten through Free Practice. Red Bull KTM Tech3’s Miguel Oliveira pulled out of the Grand Prix after Free Practice 1: the pain in the Portuguese’s hands after his crash at Phillip Island the previous Saturday was too much for the impressive rookie to continue lapping.

Pol Espargaro pushed through Q1 and moved up to 5th position but was just half a second from the top two and less than three tenths of a second from making the cut to Q2. The Spaniard adjusted his set-up to search for usable traction but could not circulate any quicker. Mika Kallio nearly dipped under the two minute barrier but will ultimately line-up on the final row of the grid, just in front of Red Bull KTM Tech3’s Hafizh Syahrin.

Pol Espargaro: “We were a little bit better, for sure more than yesterday. We could finally find an improvement, technically, and do some good lap-times in FP4 when the track was 50-50. Still, we are far from where we must be. I was quite happy with the whole package. I was pushing with everything I had and I almost did a perfect lap up until the last corner when I had some pumping and could not open [the gas] as good. I risked it all and I don’t think I can do it better, honestly. Tomorrow I hope we can start well and fight with the others.”

Mika Kallio: “We made an improvement in our lap-times if you compare them to yesterday but for sure it was not enough. In FP3 I felt better grip. As I said yesterday we lowered the bike and we checked the direction we used in the winter here. Somehow that was working but it was in the opposite direction to what we wanted to go! It worked for here though, even though it was not quite enough and I am not happy at all with the results.”

Hafizh Syahrin: “I have the feeling we managed to find a small improvement. It’s nothing huge but better than nothing. We are still far from the top guys. I couldn’t use the soft tyre today because we are quite sure it will not endure the entire race distance, so we already opted for the medium one. I hope I can find a good rhythm in the Warm Up tomorrow, let’s see what we can do later. Above all I wish I can enjoy my home race on Sunday together with all the people here.”

Miguel Oliveira: “It’s nothing serious, but [the injury] needs more rest and that’s what I need to do now. For sure, we want to be competitive and not be here just to cruise around. I want to take the opportunity to thank our entire team and KTM because everyone was really understanding about the whole situation and the support was there right from the beginning. It’s way easier to make decisions like this, when you have everyone on your side. I think the team deserves me at 100 % and not at 80, so this is what I’m going to take care of now.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Ducati:

Third and fourth row starts for the Ducati Team riders in the Shell Malaysia GP. Danilo Petrucci finishes eighth in Q2 while Andrea Dovizioso is classified tenth

Danilo Petrucci will start the Shell Malaysia Grand Prix, which takes place tomorrow at the Sepang International Circuit, from the third row of the grid. This morning the rider from Terni, Italy had failed to get into the top 10 at the end of FP3 and had to take part in the Q1 session in the early afternoon, where he finished second. Petrucci then set a time of 1’59.097 on the last lap of his second run in Q2 to finish the session in eighth place.

It will be a row 4 start instead for Andrea Dovizioso, who finished the combined free practice sessions in fifth place, a result that took him directly into Q2 where he was only able to obtain the tenth quickest time in 1’59.173.

Danilo Petrucci (#9 Ducati Team) – 1’59.097 (8th)

“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”.

Andrea Dovizioso (#04 Ducati Team) – 1’59.173 (10th)

“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”.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Repsol Honda:

Bruising Saturday in Sepang for the Repsol Honda Team

Having built his pace steadily over the weekend, Marc Marquez posted a 1’59.066 in Free Practice 3 to secure himself a spot in Q2 as lap times continued to tumble. From the pace shown earlier, it was clear that Qualifying would be a hotly contested affair. Initially setting a 1’59.178, Marquez returned to the pits for new tyres and began his second run. Unfortunately, a heavy high side on the exit of Turn 1 at the start of his flying lap ended Marquez’s session and will see the World Champion start 11th. This is the first time Marquez has started outside of the top ten since Mugello 2015.

Lucky to escape injury, Marquez did suffer contusions to his knees, elbows and pain in both shoulders from the impact but was cleared of any fractures or internal injuries. He will be assessed again tomorrow morning.

Saturday at the Malaysian Gran Prix saw Jorge Lorenzo improve the overall setting of his Honda RC213V. Suffering his first crash since Assen, Lorenzo ran wide at Turn 1 towards the end of Free Practice 4, tipping off after running onto the dirty part of the circuit. Setting a best time of 2’00.406 in FP3 meant Lorenzo again visited Q1, qualifying in 18th. Unsatisfied with his grid slot, Lorenzo is determined to march forward on Sunday and feels closer to the front than in Australia.

Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) ended the day as the highest Honda rider on the grid with a strong fifth.

Lights go out on the 20-lap Malaysian Grand Prix at 15:00 Local Time Sunday, November 3.

The Repsol Honda Team would like to extend their deepest condolences to the friends and family of Indonesia’s Afridza Munandar, who passed away today while racing in the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup at the Sepang International Circuit.

Marc Marquez

11TH  1’59.178

“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.”

Jorge Lorenzo

18TH  2’00.478

“It was a very strange crash today, quite unpredicted because I braked a little too late and then ran on. When I entered the tarmac outside of T1, the front just closed like there was no grip and I got flipped over. Fortunately, I wasn’t injured. In Q1 I used the second bike but I think we went in slightly the wrong direction with the setting. I equaled my best lap time from the weekend, but everyone else improved. We are closer to the front than before and I’m looking to reduce the gap we had in Motegi.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by LCR Honda Idemitsu:

IMPRESSIVE ZARCO ON THE THIRD ROW AT SEPANG 

LCR Honda IDEMITSU rider Johann Zarco demonstrated his class to qualify on the third row of the grid for the Malaysian Grand Prix. The Frenchman – who is standing in for Takaaki Nakagami for the final three races of the season – continued his seamless adaptation to the RC213V at the Sepang International Circuit as he progressed directly into Q2 on Saturday.

Zarco had targeted a spot in Q2 and achieved his aim after going eighth fastest in FP3, leaving him ninth in the combined times. He completed an excellent day’s work by posting the ninth fastest lap in final qualifying – just two tenths behind LCR team-mate Cal Crutchlow in fifth – to earn himself a spot on the third row for Sunday’s race.

Johann Zarco – 9th

(1’59.139 – lap 7 of 7)

“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.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Pramac Racing:

MalaysianGP Quali. Superb P4 for Jack as Pecco starts from Row 4 after a convincing Saturday at Sepang.

Jack Miller conquers a splendid row 2 start at the end of the #MalaysianGP qualifying session and will start tomorrow from fourth position. A great Saturday also for Francesco Bagnaia who will start from row 4.

Jack finds some traffic on track in the chaotic first lap of the second run but still manages to stay focused ending in fourth thanks to an extraordinary T4 (first chrono overall).

Pecco also wins the direct qualification to Q2 thanks to a splendid FP3. The Italian rider, however, falls in FP4 and is forced to compete in the qualifying for pole position with only one bike. The pain in his right foot limits him but the fourth row (P12) is still a good result.

P12 – Pecco Bagnaia

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.

P4 – Jack Miller

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.

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