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Marquez buries competition in Sepang rain

Qualifying for the Malaysian GP
Saturday, November 3, 2018


Heavy rains in Malaysia
Heavy rains in Malaysia

Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) secured an 80th career pole position after he mastered the wet Q2 conditions at the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix. The 2018 World Champion was in superior form at the Sepang International Circuit to set a quickest lap of 2:12.161 to beat Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) by over half a second in P2, with Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) lining up on the outside of the front row in P3.

It was Marquez who led the field over the line and it was he who set the first benchmark; a 2:13.641 edged out Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) – who was just behind the Spaniard on track - by 0.027, with Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) also within a tenth after the first lap – 0.051 splitting the top three.

With a banker lap under his belt, Marquez then slammed in a rapid second lap to considerably shift the goal posts. A 2:12.161 a full 1.264 quicker than Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing) as the World Champion put daylight - and more - between himself and his rivals. However, the Repsol Honda rider then lost the front at Turn 4 and unlike he’s been able to do several times already this weekend, there was no saving this one. Down he went after setting a new session best first sector, but he was back up and in the pits with over three minutes still remaining.

The aforementioned gap was 1.264 seconds, but could it be beaten? Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) shot up to P2, but he was still over a second off and then on his final flying lap, the Italian crashed at Turn 9. Iannone - following Dovi on track - had gone provisional P2 but the gap was still 0.936. A flying Frenchman then propelled himself into second; Zarco cutting the gap to eight tenths, with fellow YZR-M1 rider Rossi then leapfrogging him into second.

In the end, no one could come close to matching Marquez and despite Zarco putting in a personal best lap to re-take P2 from ‘The Doctor’, the gap between the number 93 and his rivals was still 0.548. A masterclass from Marquez in the wet around the Sepang International Circuit, this his 80th career pole position across all classes. Zarco and Rossi join the seven-time Champion on the front row, with Iannone the only other rider within a second of pole – P4 for a second race in a row for ‘The Maniac’.

His late crash meant Dovi had to settle for P5 in Q2, with fellow Desmosedici rider Miller ending the session P6 after setting his best lap on his final lap. Behind the Australian was teammate Danilo Petrucci, with both Alma Pramac Racing riders slipping down the order after sitting on the provisional front row. Friday’s quickest rider Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) will launch from P8, just ahead of Q1 graduate Alvaro Bautista (Angel Nieto Team) in P9.

Marc Marquez is superior
Marc Marquez is superior

Winner at Sepang in the wet conditions in 2012, Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) qualified in P10, just ahead of compatriot and Free Practice’s fastest man Maverick Vinales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) – P11 for the Australian GP winner. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) will line up in P12, a crash at Turn 4 in Q2 after setting the second quickest time in Q1 ended his hopes of a top ten result.

Marquez reigns in the wet, but with an updated Sunday Time Schedule, the chances of the race being dry have increased. What will the weather bring for the race? Who knows, this is Malaysia after all. But either way it’s set to be a belting battle.


Marc Marquez
“I think that being able to quickly adapt to sudden changes in track conditions is one of my strong points. Today I took advantage of that, even if, honestly, it wasn’t easy. It was the first time this weekend we rode in the wet, and we even crashed. But the feeling was there and we achieved the pole position, which is a good feeling even if we’ll ultimately start from the third row. The most important thing is that we made a huge step forward with the setup in dry conditions, and now I think we’re competitive. I also adapted my riding style a bit, and now we’re closer to the faster guys, who here are Dovizioso and Viñales. Now we’ll see which conditions we’ll have tomorrow, then we’ll try and make a good start and if possible we’ll fight for the podium.”

Starting Grid

1Marc MarquezHondaHonda2m12.161s0.000s
2Johann ZarcoTech3 YamahaYamaha2m12.709s0.548s
3Valentino RossiYamahaYamaha2m13.009s0.848s
4Andrea IannoneSuzukiSuzuki2m13.097s0.936s
5Andrea DoviziosoDucatiDucati2m13.183s1.022s
6Jack MillerPramac DucatiDucati2m13.274s1.113s
7Danilo PetrucciPramac DucatiDucati2m13.413s1.252s
8Alex RinsSuzukiSuzuki2m13.463s1.302s
9Alvaro BautistaAspar DucatiDucati2m14.185s2.024s
10Dani PedrosaHondaHonda2m14.443s2.282s
11Maverick VinalesYamahaYamaha2m14.856s2.695s
12Aleix EspargaroApriliaAprilia2m15.340s3.179s
13Scott ReddingApriliaAprilia2m13.786sQ1
14Michele PirroDucatiDucati2m13.823sQ1
15Xavier SimeonAvintia DucatiDucati2m13.971sQ1
16Pol EspargaroKTMKTM2m14.132sQ1
17Bradley SmithKTMKTM2m14.332sQ1
18Thomas LuthiMVDS HondaHonda2m14.843sQ1
19Franco MorbidelliMVDS HondaHonda2m14.994sQ1
20Stefan BradlLCR HondaHonda2m15.364sQ1
21Karel AbrahamAspar DucatiDucati2m15.679sQ1
22Takaaki NakagamiLCR HondaHonda2m16.558sQ1
23Hafizh SyahrinTech3 YamahaYamaha2m16.825sQ1

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