Marc Marquez set more records tumbling after claiming pole position for the Malaysian Grand Prix. The world champion set the fastest ever qualifying lap of Sepang, going under the two minute barrier for the first time in official competition, and with his thirteenth pole of 2014, has now broken Casey Stoner and Mick Doohan’s record for most poles in a single campaign.
Qualifying began with two high profile absentees after heavy crashes in free practice. Andrea Iannone had tangled with Marc Marquez on Friday afternoon with the accident causing a severe contusion to the Italian’s left arm, ending his weekend altogether. Pol Espargaro was the other rider to sit the session out after a piece of debris punctured his oil cooler during FP3, triggering a ferocious highside. The Moto2 champion suffered a broken bone in his foot but having advanced automatically to Q2, will line up on the fourth row should he be passed fit tomorrow.
Marquez, having escaped punishment for his part in Iannone’s fall, had a crash of his own in FP4 but showed no aftereffects when the fight for pole position started, jumping straight to the top of the timesheets on a 2:00.245. Dani Pedrosa slotted into second behind his teammate with Jorge Lorenzo the only man to get remotely close to the Repsol Hondas, a quarter of a second adrift.
The second runs started with Marquez shadowed by the LCR Honda of Stefan Bradl but the German was powerless to keep pace with the world champion who clocked a sensational 1:59.791, taking pole out of Pedrosa’s reach. Dani did get under two minutes himself but was forced to settle for second while Lorenzo’s late improvement could only get him to within 0.412s in third.
Bradl’s tactic of following the pacesetter paid off as he leapt up to fourth, overtaking Andrea Dovizioso and Valentino Rossi, while Aleix Espargaro will head the third row, just ahead of British duo Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith.