Marc Marquez has taken pole position for the Malaysian GP in Sepang in wet conditions, over half a second faster than Johann Zarco in P2. In typical Marquez style, he also crashed during the session, but his lap time was untouchable for the rest of the field. Valentino Rossi completes the front row.
Qualifying was significantly delayed after heavy rain began to fall during FP4. There was no let up in the rain for a while but once it slowed the track drained effectively and qualifying began, over an hour later than scheduled. Tomorrow’s race times have been moved to earlier in the day in the hope of avoiding the rain, which is more likely to fall in the afternoon.
Marquez topped the times from the start of the session, setting the blistering lap time of a 2:12.161 on his second flying lap. He is able to adapt remarkably quickly to varied conditions, although suffered a crash later in the session when he lost the front at turn 4. He was able to continue.
In Q1, Alvaro Bautista and Aleix Espargaro mastered the conditions to progress to Q2. It was clear the rookies were struggling, though – Hafizh Syahrin will start his home GP from the back of the grid after finishing Q1 in 13th, meanwhile Takaaki Nakagami finished 12th and Franco Morbidelli 9th. There have been very few wet sessions this year so their experience in the wet is very limited.
Jordi Torres, who is still replacing the injured Tito Rabat, crashed in FP4 and suffered an injury. He was therefore not taking part in qualifying. Michele Pirro is now racing this weekend in place of Jorge Lorenzo, who decided he would sit out again this weekend after FP3 due to his wrist injury. Pirro will start 14th on the grid tomorrow.
Although there are 2 Yamahas on the front row of the grid, Maverick Vinales seemed to struggle. A crash in FP4 may have affected his confidence; he qualified in 11th place, over 2.6 seconds down and only ahead of Aleix Espargaro, who suffered a crash in Q2. Vinales comes to Sepang off the back of a much-needed Yamaha win in Phillip Island, but unless he can make some drastic changes we’re unlikely to see the same result here.
The only rider who looked like he may be able to challenge Marquez was Andrea Dovizioso, but he crashed at turn 9 whilst he was pushing to try to better Marquez’s lap time. He will start the race from 5th on the grid tomorrow.
2018 MotoGP Shell Malaysia Grand Prix – Qualifying result:
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