Malaysian Grand Prix, Sepang: MotoGP qualifying round-up
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) took a stunning pole position at Sepang International Circuit, as the Italian veteran sliced half a second off the time at the top and remained unthreatened. Compatriot Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) took P2 on his final lap, just edging out teammate Jorge Lorenzo.
In Q1, Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) took control of the wet session to secure graduation early on, then lowering his time further to top the table by a good margin over Frenchman Loris Baz (Avintia Racing). Baz, despite a Turn 2 crash, had done enough before the incident to secure his place in the second session and the two moved through.
Conditions for Q2 remained wet, but Dovizioso came out fighting near the start of the session and set what was an unthreatened provisional pole position laptime on only his second attempt – before being the only man able to beat that as he later took another few hundredths off. Rossi suffered a small moment around Turn 1 in Q2, before gathering it back up to go for another attack and just take second on his final run.
Lorenzo, who has struggled in 2016 getting the Michelin wet front tyre to work for him, put in a stunning show in the difficult conditions to not only duel with teammate Rossi, but qualify on the front row in conditions that have proved more difficult for the Mallorcan this season. With higher ambient temperatures and growing confidence, Lorenzo was a wet weather pacesetter in Sepang once again.
Reigning World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) heads the second row as he struggles with illness and isn’t quite 100%, hoping to be back to his best for race day, with Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) crashing out as he pushed to move forward – and then picking the bike up to go for one more lap, taking an impressive P5.
Recovering and returning Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team) put in a solid run in difficult conditions to qualify in sixth, ahead of the Team Suzuki Ecstar duo of Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales – who both struggled slightly more in the washout of the Q2 session.
Alvaro Bautista (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) will line up ninth after not only graduating to Q2 but also qualifying within the top ten for the Noale factory, with Loris Baz (Avintia Racing) impressing to complete the top ten after graduating from Q1.
Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) was P11 after a tyre decision switch, ahead of twelfth-placed Hector Barbera (Avintia Racing), with race day however sure to see track conditions change once again – and Sepang International Circuit ready for another spectacular Sunday clash. Lights go out at 15:00 local time (GMT +8) on Sunday for MotoGP™’s ultimate challenge of man and machine.