SEPANG, Malaysia — Marc Marquez claimed his fourth consecutive MotoGP pole, taking the top qualifying spot for Sunday’s Malaysian Shell Advance Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix at the Sepang Int’l Circuit.
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. 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 two minute and .01 second run that established a track record at the track.
It was Marquez’s eighth pole of the season and fifth in the last six races.
“I’m really happy with this pole position, particularly as earning it was a little different to with my previous poles,” said the Respol Honda rider. “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.”
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 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 two 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 three will consist of Tech3’s Bradley Smith, equaling his second best MotoGP qualifying position of seventh from the aforementioned Dovizioso and lead CRT runner Aleix Espargaro (Power Electronics Aspar), who passed through to the final shootout from Q1.