Marquez takes pole then has it taken off him
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) secured an 80th career pole position after he was the early master of the wet Q2 conditions at the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix, but there was a small bump back to Earth not long after for the reigning World Champion as he later crashed – and then another hit when he was given a six-place grid penalty for irresponsible riding.
Marquez impeded Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and will now start seventh. It did not look like a purposeful act but a momentary brain fade, while the Spaniard himself was baulked in the session by Valentino Rossi at one point, but both men were amicable about the mistake. The penalty for Marquez is quite a blow as the Spaniard was simply on another level during qualiying, dominating the session throughout and looking untouchable in the tricky conditions.
Marquez’ heavy penalty means we have Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) now on top after going second quickest in the session. Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) starts second, and fittingly, it’s Iannone now completing that front row.
The MotoGP race starts at the earlier time of 13:00 local time – which makes it 1600 Australian Eastern Daylight Savings Time.
How QP progressed
Marquez had led the field over the line and set the first benchmark; a 2:13.641 to edge out Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing), who was just behind the Spaniard on track. Iannone was also within a tenth after the first lap, with a mere 0.051 splitting the top three, but with a banker lap under his belt, Marquez then slammed in a rapid second lap to considerably shift the goal posts. A 2:12.161 put him a full 1.264 quicker than the man who’d taken over at the top, Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing), as the World Champion put some serious daylight between himself and his rivals. The Repsol Honda rider then lost the front at Turn 4, however, and there was no saving this one.
The field then set about trying to beat Marquez’ marker. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) shot up to P2 but was still over a second off and then on his final flying lap and then Italian crashed at Turn 9, before Iannone went up to P2 but the gap was remained 0.936. A flying Frenchman then propelled himself into second with Zarco cutting the gap to eight tenths and fellow YZR-M1 rider Rossi then leapfrogging him. Could either go one better on their final attempt?
Zarco put in a personal best lap to re-take P2 from ‘The Doctor’, but the gap between the number 93 and his rivals remained 0.548 after a masterclass from Marquez for his 80th career pole position across all classes. Then, though, news came through of the penalty and although it remains a Marquez pole in the statistics, he’ll be starting seventh.
Marc Marquez – P1 then demoted to P7
“I think that being able to quickly adapt to sudden changes in track conditions is one of my strong points. Today I took advantage of that, even if, honestly, it wasn’t easy. It was the first time this weekend we rode in the wet, and we even crashed. But the feeling was there and we achieved the pole position, which is a good feeling even if we’ll ultimately start from the third row. The most important thing is that we made a huge step forward with the setup in dry conditions, and now I think we’re competitive. I also adapted my riding style a bit, and now we’re closer to the faster guys, who here are Dovizioso and Viñales. Now we’ll see which conditions we’ll have tomorrow, then we’ll try and make a good start and if possible we’ll fight for the podium.”
“We started with soft-soft and could see that Aleix (Esparagaro) went well with these tyres. I tried to do it, but it didn’t work and I said to myself, it’s not normal that I’m that slow. So I stopped to change to the other bike and asked to put in the medium rear. We already planned to use the harder front tyre. From the first lap, I knew something is possible. On the last lap, my feeling was great, but I was sliding on the rear in turn three and in turn four. I got quite some signals and lost a few tenths, so I wasn’t sure if I could have done the lap time of Marc (Marquez). Anyway, it was great. I enjoy the second place and wish for a podium tomorrow.”
Valentino Rossi – P3
“This kind of situation is always difficult, because you have to go into the qualifying with no data and no feeling. I’m very happy about the front row and I’m also happy because I have a good feeling with the bike, I could ride it in a good way. I tried qualifying with a soft rear, Márquez and Zarco used the medium. I ran into some traffic, I had to fight with Bautista a bit. But in the end this result is good, because at a certain point we thought we weren’t going to do the qualifying, so starting from the front row is very important. The race tomorrow will be held earlier, which I think is very clever, because at three o’clock the conditions are always bad here, every day. Maybe we can have a dry race, or at least race with a normal amount of water.”
Andrea Iannone – P4
“Today has not been easy, but it was much better than yesterday because we improved a lot with the bike and the feeling. I end today with a positive feeling and this is important for me. Unfortunately in my last flying lap I got held up at corner 9 and I lost 4-tenths of a second, without that my final time could have been even faster. That was a shame but finally I will start on the first row which is a good position. Tomorrow will be hard but we feel ready.”
That means Dovizioso starts fourth despite his crash, with fellow Desmosedici rider Miller ending the session P6 after setting his best lap on his final lap. Milerl now starts in the middle of a second row completed by teammate Danilo Petrucci.
Andrea Dovizioso – P5
“Today we had to adapt to the different situations that we encountered on the track, both in the morning and the afternoon, and as a result we were unable to try everything we had planned. Both Marquez and Viñales improved their pace and I think that tomorrow there will be a group of riders fighting for the leading positions. In Q2 I made a mistake and crashed on my best lap. We also had to use a front tyre that was too hard, like many other riders, and I entered Turn 9 too quickly and slid onto the grass. Pity because we could have started from the front row, but in any case it was important to be able to lap on the wet asphalt in case it rains tomorrow in the race. In any case I believe we can be competitive both in the dry and the wet.”
Jack Miller – P6
“If I have to be honest I was convinced that I could win the front row but in the second time attack the front tyre started to deteriorate a lot. Starting from the second row is still a good result also in light of the race pace that throughout the weekend was very positive”.
Danilo Petrucci – P7
“After the first run I had a lot of confidence. We decided to try the soft rain tyre at the rear but only afterwards we realized that it was less performing than the medium one. I don’t know what the weather will be like tomorrow but I am confident I can stay in the Top 5”.
Marquez heads Row 3, ahead of Friday’s quickest rider Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Q1 graduate Alvaro Bautista (Angel Nieto Team).
Alex Rins – P8
“I think today was a really good and solid day, especially as we tested our rhythm with used tyres and it wasn’t bad. Qualifying was a bit of a shame because our strategy could have been different, if I had stopped to change the tyre I could have been closer to the front. But we’re happy with the grid position anyway and we’ll try and get a good start tomorrow and be fast.”
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team), Australian GP winner Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) line up on a super-powered Row 4.
Maverick Viñales – P11
“We didn’t have a good attempt during today’s qualifying. The bike wasn’t working well, so it was difficult. What’s certain is that it wasn’t the tyre that caused the problem, it was the bike set-up for the wet, so that’s what the team needs to work on. In the dry we already set up the bike quite well. I don’t know what I should expect for tomorrow’s race, but it will be very interesting. In any case, we have a much better prospect now the schedule for tomorrow has changed, because the chance of rain is higher at three o’clock than it is at one. So, I hope the track will stay dry, because that’s when I feel the best. We have to see, but in FP4 I was really fast, and I felt so good on the bike. I think I can overtake quite fast at this track because the bike is good on acceleration. I need to concentrate on the start, and let’s see if I can make my best start of the year!”
MotoGP Qualifying Results
|2018 Sepang MotoGP Q2 Qualification|
|1.||Marquez M.||Repsol Honda||2:12.161|
|2.||Zarco J.||Monster Tech 3||+0.548|
|3.||Rossi V.||Movistar Yamaha||+0.848|
|4.||Iannone A.||Team Suzuki Ecstar||+0.936|
|5.||Dovizioso A.||Ducati Team||+1.022|
|6.||Miller J.||Alma Pramac Racing||+1.113|
|7.||Petrucci D.||Alma Pramac Racing||+1.252|
|8.||Rins A.||Team Suzuki Ecstar||+1.302|
|9.||Bautista A.||Angel Nieto Team||+2.024|
|10.||Pedrosa D.||Repsol Honda||+2.282|
|11.||Vinales M.||Movistar Yamaha||+2.695|
|12.||Espargaro A.||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||+3.179|
|2018 Sepang MotoGP Q1 Qualification|
|1.||Bautista A.||Angel Nieto Team||2:13.311|
|2.||Espargaro A.||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||+0.024|
|3.||Redding S.||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||+0.475|
|4.||Pirro M.||Ducati Team||+0.512|
|5.||Simeon X.||Reale Avintia Racing||+0.660|
|6.||Espargaro P.||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||+0.821|
|7.||Smith B.||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||+1.021|
|8.||Luthi T.||Marc VDS Racing Team||+1.532|
|9.||Morbidelli F.||Marc VDS Racing Team||+1.683|
|10.||Bradl S.||LCR Honda||+2.053|
|11.||Abraham K.||Angel Nieto Team||+2.368|
|12.||Nakagami T.||LCR Honda||+3.247|
|13.||Syahrin H.||Monster Tech 3||+3.514|
Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) stormed to Moto2 pole position at the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix, setting the only laptime in the 2:05s to better closest challenger Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) by a stunning 0.488 seconds. Marquez Fabio Quartararo (MB Conveyors – Speed Up) completing the front row of the grid at the Sepang International Circuit – with ‘El Diablo’ 0.666 off the top…
From the outset, it was Marquez who looked menacing and sure enough on his third flying lap, the Spaniard set a sensational 2:05.629 to go 0.692 faster than anyone else. The gauntlet was well and truly thrown down, with Quartararo and Remy Gardner (Tech 3 Racing) sitting as his two closest challengers in P2 and P3 – 0.026 separating the duo, with Marini just 0.009 off a provisional front row with 15 minutes to go.
The timing screens then went stagnant in Sepang and that seemed to be that, with no one able to vastly improve on their early laps. However, this then changed when Marini went from P4 to P2 with under five minutes remaining, although the gap to Marquez was still 0.488. Quartararo, after being pushed down to P3 by Marini, then set a personal best but it wasn’t quite enough to improve his position as the standings were set.
So it was Marquez who took pole – despite a late crash at Turn 1 – to continue his dominant weekend, with Marini and Quartararo joining him on the front row. Fourth place went to Gardner, the Australian producing career-best qualifying in P4 to finish just 0.052 off the front row, with Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) lining up alongside him in P5. Championship leader Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) completes the second row ahead of his second match point on Sunday.
Remy Gardner – P4
“Today has been a very positive day. I did a really first lap on the first exit of Qualifying, luckily, because then the track went hotter and it was a lot more greasy towards the end. Also the tyres only lasted for one lap. I managed to put a pretty decent lap together in the first lap and we were sitting in P3 for a while all the way until the last two minutes. We put in a new set of tyres again and I tried, but it was just really difficult out there. Quartararo did a good job to pass me in these conditions. We were close to parc fermé, but not in, anyway, I don’t think it’s going to change a lot for tomorrow. We still need to work on our race pace in the Warm up, but I’m happy.”
His title rival Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) remains close, however. The Portuguese rider was heads up Row 3 and was just 0.068 in arrears – with the duo also having played a little bit of cat and mouse in qualifying. Xavi Vierge (Dynavolt Intact GP) ended qualifying in P8, 0.070 away from Oliveira, with Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) completing the top ten.
Marquez looks like he’s going to take some beating in Malaysia. Will he take his first victory of the season? And can Bagnaia seal the World Championship? The two title rivals line up in tandem on the grid, with Oliveira out to put the celebrations on hold.
|1.||Marquez A.||Estrella Galicia Marc VDS||2:05.629|
|2.||Marini L.||Sky Racing Team VR46||+0.488|
|3.||Quartararo F.||Beta Tools-Speed Up Racing||+0.666|
|4.||Gardner R.||Tech 3 Racing||+0.718|
|5.||Pasini M.||Italtrans Racing Team||+0.810|
|6.||Bagnaia F.||Sky Racing Team VR46||+0.920|
|7.||Oliveira M.||Red Bull KTM Ajo||+0.988|
|8.||Vierge X.||Dynavolt Intact GP||+1.058|
|9.||Binder B.||Red Bull KTM Ajo||+1.112|
|10.||Schrotter M.||Dynavolt Intact GP||+1.113|
|11.||Fernandez A.||Pons HP40||+1.249|
|12.||Navarro J.||Federal Oil Gresini||+1.272|
|13.||Baldassarri L.||Pons HP40||+1.335|
|15.||Locatelli A.||Italtrans Racing Team||+1.457|
|16.||Nagashima T.||Idemitsu Honda Team Asia||+1.591|
|17.||Aegerter D.||Kiefer Racing||+1.614|
|18.||Mir J.||Estrella Galicia Marc VDS||+1.622|
|19.||Pons E.||Pons HP40||+1.622|
|20.||Raffin J.||Garage Plus Interwetten||+1.736|
|22.||Corsi S.||Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2||+1.865|
|23.||Roberts J.||NTS RW Racing GP||+1.887|
|24.||Odendaal S.||NTS RW Racing GP||+1.937|
|25.||Pawi K. I.||Idemitsu Honda Team Asia||+2.054|
|26.||Tuuli N.||SIC Racing Team||+2.796|
|27.||Danilo J.||SAG Team||+2.871|
|28.||Pratama D. E.||Federal Oil Gresini||+3.140|
|29.||Cardelus X.||Team Stylobike||+3.360|
|30.||Vinales I.||Forward Racing Team||+3.895|
|31.||Fuligni F.||Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2||+4.313|
|32.||Sucipto R. T.||QMMF Racing Team||+4.924|
Moto3 Championship leader Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) took pole for the 11th time in 2018 at the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix, setting a new lightweight class qualifying lap record at Sepang. But the Spaniard heads main title rival Marco Bezzecchi (Redox PruestelGP) by just 0.032 to set us up for a Sunday stunner, with Tony Arbolino (Marinelli Snipers Team) continuing his strong weekend to take P3 on the grid.
It was John McPhee (CIP – Green Power) who led for the majority of the session and with 15 minutes remaining, despite Bezzecchi briefly taking over at the top, McPhee had moved the goal posts again – his advantage sitting at an impressive 0.584. That was immediately trimmed to 0.052 with Martin going second fastest, however, and Free Practice’s fastest man Arbolino then jumped up to second – with McPhee then clear at the top by only 0.020.
When it was time for the final lap dash, Martin and Bezzecchi both left it late to head out – the latter crossing the line with just four seconds of the session remaining to begin his final lap. Arbolino, Martin and Bezzecchi were then all up in the opening two sectors, but provisional pole man McPhee was also looking to increase his advantage – and that’s exactly what he did. It was only by 0.060 though, with the three riders behind all on fast laps…
Martin then came across the line to top McPhee’s new benchmark by 0.350, as Arbolino slotted into P2 after he also beat the Scotsman’s time. Bezzecchi then made his final lap count and although he missed out on pole to rival Martin, he was just 0.032 down. The two title rivals therefore start side by side, although the third man in the hunt – Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) – starts down in P13 with a little more work to do.
Joining McPhee on Row 2 are Australian GP winner Albert Arenas (Angel Nieto Team Moto3) and Enea Bastianini (Leopard Racing), who was lingering down in P20 with 15 minutes remaining before a final push, with Row 3 an all-Japanese affair. Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) sits P7 to lead Kazuki Masaki (RBA BOE Skull Rider) and Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing) in P8 and P9 respectively. Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) rounds out the top ten; an impressive session from the Italian as he continues to recover from his Japanese GP injuries.
It’s match point to Martin in Malaysia, but with Bezzecchi breathing down his neck on the starting line, another awesome Moto3 race looks set to take place.
|1.||Martin J.||Del Conca Gresini Racing||2:11.731|
|3.||Arbolino T.||Marinelli Snipers Team||+0.334|
|4.||Mcphee J.||CIP Green Power||+0.350|
|5.||Arenas A.||Angel Nieto Team Moto3||+0.480|
|6.||Bastianini E.||Leopard Racing||+0.491|
|7.||Suzuki T.||SIC58 Squadra Corse||+0.812|
|8.||Masaki K.||RBA BOE Skull Rider||+0.896|
|9.||Sasaki A.||Petronas Sprinta Racing||+0.906|
|10.||Antonelli N.||SIC58 Squadra Corse||+0.948|
|11.||Binder D.||Red Bull KTM Ajo||+1.017|
|12.||Vietti C.||Sky Racing Team VR46||+1.032|
|13.||Di Giannantonio F.||Del Conca Gresini Racing||+1.066|
|14.||Dalla Porta L.||Leopard Racing||+1.081|
|15.||Canet A.||Estrella Galicia 0,0||+1.142|
|16.||Foggia D.||Sky Racing Team VR46||+1.209|
|17.||Lopez A.||Estrella Galicia 0,0||+1.244|
|18.||Norrodin A.||Petronas Sprinta Racing||+1.358|
|19.||Ramirez M.||Bester Capital Dubai||+1.382|
|20.||Toba K.||Idemitsu Honda Team Asia||+1.429|
|21.||Perez V.||Reale Avintia Academy||+1.450|
|23.||Migno A.||Angel Nieto Team Moto3||+1.948|
|24.||Atiratphuvapat N.||Idemitsu Honda Team Asia||+1.987|
|25.||Oettl P.||Sudmetall Schedl GP Racing||+2.224|
|26.||Wongthananon A.||VR46 Master Camp Team||+2.771|
|27.||Nepa S.||CIP Green Power||+2.961|
|28.||Yurchenko M.||Marinelli Snipers Team||+3.137|