Malaysian GP, Sepang: Qualifying round-up, MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
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.