Pedrosa grabs stunning pole at Sepang as Marquez crashes


Dani Pedrosa takes pole at Sepang
Dani Pedrosa took a sensational pole at Sepang (Credit: Repsol Honda)

Dani Pedrosa took pole position in a sensational qualifying session for the Malaysian Grand Prix, which saw championship leader Marc Marquez crash on his first run.

The exciting session saw four different riders take provisional pole within the closing seconds, but it was Pedrosa who came out on top with a 1:59.212.

Johan Zarco put in another impressive performance to take second place, with title contender Andrea Dovizioso closing out the front row. The Ducati man thought he had done enough to take pole with his 1:59.236, but it wasn’t to be.

The top three riders were covered by only 0.024s. Valentino Rossi, who momentarily had pole, will start in fourth alongside his teammate Maverick Vinales. The duo will be joined by Jorge Lorenzo on row two.

After a frantic morning which saw him make the save of the season in Free Practice Four, qualifying did not go to plan for Marquez. After crashing out at the final corner on his first run, Marquez switched to his second bike but was unable to find any pace – ending the session in seventh.

The Suzuki paring of Alex Rins (Eighth) and Andrea Iannone (ninth) will join the reigning champion on row three. Cal Crutchlow ended the session in tenth spot after crashing out of proceedings on his second run.

Q1 started with Pol Espargaro, Danilo Petrucci and Scott Redding exchanging positions at the top of the timing sheets, before Rins went straight to the top with a 2:00.144.

On his second run, Rins would push even harder and managed to increase his lead at the top with a lap-time of 2:00.138.

Behind him, Espargaro was also pushing the limits on his KTM. Unfortunately the Spanish rider would lose the front going through the fast turn 12.

Moments earlier, Moto GP debutante Michael Van der Mark crashed out at turn 5, with Loris Baz also hitting the deck after posting his quickest sectors of the weekend so far.

Despite the crash, it was Espargaro who joined Rins in the top two positions – sending both riders into Q2.

The all important Q2 session started off with a bang, with championship leader Marquez crashing on his first flying lap. The Repsol Honda man came into the final turn too hot and hit the deck hard.

Zarco and Pedrosa would go top in the early minutes but it was Lorenzo who put in the then fastest lap of the weekend to take control of the session.

Zarco would respond immediately with a 1:59.636, with Vinales slotting into second spot.

Remarkably, whilst out on his second bike, Marquez would end his first proper run in third spot – a mere couple of hundreds away from top spot. The crash clearly didn’t affect the title favourite, with the Spaniard sliding around turn one before being out of his seat at turn two.

As the second runs began it was disaster for Crutchlow, with the LCR Honda rider crashing out at turn seven. The Brit was quickest through the first sector before the crash.

The excitement levels would rise in the closing stages of qualifying, with Rossi hitting the top of the timing sheets for the first time.

A few seconds later, a clearly delighted Dovizioso would take top spot away with a 1:59.236. The Italian has been fast all weekend and he must have thought he had pole position wrapped up.

Zarco had other ideas however and popped up with a 1:59.229, only for Pedrosa to go even faster and take pole position away with his 1:59.212.