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Pedrosa takes impressive pole position at Sepang

Beats Zarco and Dovizioso in tight battle
Saturday, October 28, 2017


Dani Pedrosa
Dani Pedrosa

Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa took a fantastic pole position for tomorrow’s Malaysian GP--his third this year, his 31st in MotoGP, and the 49th in his career.

After struggling in the wet on Friday, Pedrosa was able to consistently improve his pace in today’s sunny and hot conditions, setting the third fastest lap time in FP3 and the fifth quickest in FP4 before besting Johann Zarco and Andrea Dovizioso by 0.017” and 0.024”, respectively, in the last minute of an incredibly hard-fought qualifying session.

Dovizioso was only 0.024 seconds off pole and was the man provisionally set to take it until the final few seconds, but the Italian holds the cards after key rival and points leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) had a more difficult session and will line up seventh – on the third row. Marquez crashed on his first flier, taking a tumble at Turn 15 but able to get the bike going and head down pitlane, and was unable to threaten once back out on track. It’s only the second time ever in the premier class the reigning Champion has failed to qualify in the top six.

The second row is headed by Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) after the first man into the 1:59s on Saturday morning was able to get the better of teammate Maverick Vying, with the Spaniard just 0.040 off the veteran Italian and lining up in fifth. Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) completes an all-star second row, again within a tenth of the man ahead of him.

Behind Marquez in seventh is Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) – the first of the Q2 graduates – who just beat teammate Andrea Iannone, with Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) completing the top ten after a crash.

Jack Miller (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) lines up P11, with Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) in twelfth and once again keeping the Austrian manufacturer in Q2 as their impressive form continues. Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing) and teammate Scott Redding line up in thirteenth.


Dani Pedrosa
I’m very happy with this pole, which is our third this year. It’s a nice feeling because I usually struggle in qualifying, but the track improved a lot with today’s sunny conditions, offering good grip in the morning was able to get the better of teammate Maverick Vinales, with the Spaniard just 0 find the rhythm on my first flying lap and set a good time, and then I pushed harder and improved on my second run. I made a couple of little mistakes but it was enough for the pole, which is fantastic. I’m happy for the team, as this pole is for them. We’ll have to see what the conditions are like for the race as we’re still struggling in the wet, so we’re really hoping for the sun tomorrow.

Marc Marquez
Marc Marquez

Marc Marquez
We’re not at our best at the moment, but I think our race pace is better than our qualifying position. This morning we made a small mistake with the setup and lost the direction a little bit. Then we sorted things out and I felt really good on the bike again in FP4, but in qualifying I crashed on my first run, which completely changed our plans. I had to take my second bike but I didn’t feel perfect on it, so I did a lap that was good but not good enough. Anyway, we’re not happy with today but not completely disappointed either, as our pace isn’t bad. Tomorrow we’ll try and have a good race. It won’t be easy because here, every time you go on track the feeling is different, depending on temperature, if it rains or not, and so on, so we’ll see what it’s like tomorrow and do our best, like always.

Valentino Rossi
In general it was a good day, because already from this morning I felt good with the bike. Into qualifying we were still working, because the level of the top five or six riders was very close, it was very balanced, we're all the same. I tried to push, my lap was good, I rode well. The lap time was OK, I saw P1 at that moment, but after that the others improved. Starting from P4 is a good position, but we have to work on the balance of the bike because I'm not fast enough yet in some places. Like always, the tire decision and the weather conditions will be very important tomorrow. For me it's still open which tire to use on the front and for the rear, we have to decide if we go with the medium or the hard and also the combination between the two, it depends. First of all, I hope for good weather tomorrow, so we can try to race with the slicks.

Maverick Vinales

Maverick Vinales
Maverick Vinales
Today's qualifying was very close, all the riders' times were very close together. We are 0.3s from first and I'm happy. In FP3 I didn't feel so well, but then we made some changes on the bike in FP4 and I felt good again. I think that for tomorrow we still have some room for improvement and that's very important. I feel really good and I think I have a clear idea on which tire I'll use for the race. I'm especially happy because there were many races where throughout the weekend we didn't make good steps forward, but here we made great progress. We have to be very intelligent about tomorrow's race, first of all about deciding on the tires. We have to choose the best option for our bike. In the end I think we have the package, I'm good on the brakes and feel strong there compared to the other riders, so let's see if we can get the job done tomorrow.

Alvaro Bautista
A couple of crashes in FP3 limited my laps and I missed out on Q2 by just 0.047 seconds. The first one, there were still some damp patches around and I went over one and lost the front. I came back to the box, took the other bike and had a problem with the front brake. It locked up in a corner and I crashed again. This afternoon we tried to pick up our plan from the morning, maintaining a soft rear tire for the whole session to see if it could be an option for the race. We set a decent pace, with only four tenths difference between my best and worst laps, and after fifteen laps we think it could work well for the race. I feel strong and motivated and if we can find the same feeling and rhythm as we had in FP4 tomorrow then I think we can be close to the top five. We are in good shape for wet or dry conditions.

Karel Abraham
I am very sad because so far we had a very good weekend, every practice was good, but not qualifying. My first exit was not so good but the first flying lap of my second exit was fast through the first sector and then I had a big crash. I got to the corner just a bit too fast and I lost the front. I think we should have been around thirteenth or fourteenth today but unfortunately I ended up on the ground and it will make things a lot more difficult for tomorrow because I will start from the penultimate position. We have to push really hard from the beginning to regain positions as soon as the lights go out. It will be difficult to score points but I believe we can do it because we have shown the pace all weekend. So let's do it.


1PEDROSA Dani26SPAHonda1'59.212
2ZARCO Johann5FRAYamaha0.017
3DOVIZIOSO Andrea4ITADucati0.024
4ROSSI Valentino46ITAYamaha0.286
5VINALES Maverick25SPAYamaha0.326
6LORENZO Jorge99SPADucati0.410
7MARQUEZ Marc93SPAHonda0.482
8RINS Alex42SPASuzuki0.780
9IANNONE Andrea29ITASuzuki0.907
10CRUTCHLOW Cal35GBRHonda0.969
11MILLER Jack43AUSHonda1.114
13PETRUCCI Danilo9ITADucati2'00.351 Q1
14REDDING Scott45GBRDucati2'00.451 Q1
15BAUTISTA Alvaro19SPADucati2'00.469 Q1
16SMITH Bradley38GBRKTM2'00.718 Q1
17BAZ Loris76FRADucati2'01.050 Q1
18LOWES Sam22GBRAprilia2'01.207 Q1
19RABAT Tito53SPAHonda2'01.228 Q1
20BARBERA Hector8SPADucati2'01.413 Q1
21ABRAHAM Karel17CZEDucati2'01.570 Q1
22VAN DER MARK Michael60NDLYamaha2'02.376 Q1

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