Jack Miller put his recent qualifying disasters behind him to claim a crucial pole position for the Malaysian Grand Prix. The Australian ignored yet more farcical scenes with rider after rider waiting for a slipstream to set the fastest ever Moto3 lap of Sepang while championship rival Alex Marquez crashed on his way to fifth.
Many had expected the wide open spaces of Sepang to suit the top-end grunt of the Honda and free practice seemed back up that theory with John McPhee comfortably topping the timesheets for Saxoprint-RTG. His teammate Efren Vazquez picked up the baton early on in qualifying with a 2:13.348 but KTM finally came to the fore eighteen minutes from time as Jakub Kornfeil went quickest for Calvo.
McPhee responded by returning Saxoprint-RTG to the top of the leaderboard, clocking a 2:12.909, and as the session entered its closing minutes, a maiden Moto3 pole seemed a distinct possibility for the young Scotsman. His hopes were boosted by a crash for his chief Honda threat when Marquez took a tumble at turn six, losing the front end at the fast right-hander, but Jack Miller avoided such mistakes to set a stunning 2:12.450, four tenths quicker than McPhee. John remained in second spot to secure a second front row start in three races while Jakub Kornfeil held onto third ahead of Vazquez and Marquez who was slightly fortunate not to fall any lower than fifth.
Race direction may yet have a say in the make-up of tomorrow’s grid after countless riders were seen waiting for a slipstream, slowing to a virtual standstill as they waited for a rider to follow. Romano Fenati was among them and will surely feel his plan was successful having secured a rare second row start in sixth. Danny Kent didn’t enjoy his time in traffic quite as much, tangling with Juanfran Guevara, but the Briton did respond superbly to snatch seventh with Isaac Vinales, Miguel Oliveira and Enea Bastianini completing the top ten. Alex Rins, mathematically still a title contender, will need a minor miracle to keep his hopes alive having qualified a lowly seventeenth.