Marc Marquez clinched his fourth consecutive pole position in MotoGP with a blistering late lap in Malaysia, denying Valentino Rossi his first pole for three and a half years. A shower at the end of Q1 threatened to throw the pole position shootout wide open but the usual suspects ended up fighting over top spot as the track dried almost instantly.
Due to the high temperatures, the rain seemed to burn off the surface as quickly as it had fallen but some water still sat in the kerbs as Jorge Lorenzo found out to his cost on his first flying lap, skating off at turn seven. With his lap scrapped, the world champion fell to the bottom of the leaderboard as Cal Crutchlow set the early pace, six thousandths of a second quicker than Dani Pedrosa.
As the other contenders headed for the pits and a fresh set of tyres, Lorenzo returned to the track intent on righting the wrong of his first run. His first timed lap of the session was his fastest of the weekend and his second was faster still, throwing down the gauntlet with a 2:00.579. The first man to answer the challenge was Rossi who clocked a 2:00.336 to usurp his teammate with his strong final sector enabling him to pip Crutchlow by 0.023s when the Tech 3 rider crossed the line.
The threat remained from the Repsol Hondas though and Marquez proved just why many were forecasting this circuit to favour the RC213V with a 2:00.011, quick enough to secure his eighth pole of the season. Pedrosa, having dominated free practice, was conspicuous by his absence at the top of the timesheets with his best lap only good enough for fifth behind Lorenzo.
Alvaro Bautista will start sixth ahead of Bradley Smith and Andrea Dovizioso while Aleix Espargaro excelled again to split the works Ducatis, pipping Nicky Hayden for ninth. Andrea Iannone finished eleventh and unfortunately he was the final rider to compete in Q2 after Stefan Bradl suffered a fractured ankle in FP4. The German suffered a seemingly innocuous crash at turn one but his foot appeared to get caught as he slid from the tarmac to the astroturf and the resultant injury will keep him from racing tomorrow.
As a result, Michael Laverty will move up to eighteenth on the grid after the Ulsterman finished ninth fastest in Q1 before the rain arrived.