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MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix 2017

Round 17: Malaysia

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October 28, 2017

Pedrosa Takes Scorching Pole Position at Sepang, Marquez on Row Three

Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) scorched to a brilliant pole position at sweltering-hot Sepang this afternoon, putting himself at the top of the grid for tomorrow’s penultimate race of the season. Team-mate and World Championship-leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) ended up on the third row following a low-speed tumble during qualifying.

Dani Pedrosazoom
Dani Pedrosa
Dani Pedrosazoom
Dani Pedrosa

Pedrosa’s third pole of the year and his first since June’s Barcelona Grand Prix is also the 31-year-old’s 49th across all three classes. Tomorrow the former 125cc and 250cc World Champion will go for his first win since May’s Spanish GP as he chases fourth overall in the 2017 championship.

After challenging races in Japan two weeks ago and Australia last Sunday, Pedrosa’s rhythm in today’s FP4 session suggests he has the pace to challenge for victory here. His exceptional ability to quickly pick up his bike on corner exits to use the fatter part of the rear tire is one of the keys to his speed, especially with Sepang’s low-speed turns 14 and 15 leading onto the track’s two longest straights.

Marquez had a spectacular day, heading FP4, despite a huge moment at turn one, where he used all of his lightning reactions and dazzling talent to save a monster front-end slide. However, the reigning World Champion was unable to avoid sliding off on his first lap of qualifying. He returned to the pits to switch to his second RC213V, briefly took third place, but was unable to better his time when he returned to his original machine, which had been rapidly repaired by his crew.

At the end of qualifying Marquez was seventh fastest, which leaves him off the first two rows of the grid for only the second time in his five-year premier-class career. However, Marquez can still wrap up his fourth MotoGP title tomorrow. He currently leads sole title Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) by 33 points. If Dovizioso wins the race, Marquez needs to finish second to secure the crown, otherwise the title duel will go to the final round at Valencia, Spain, next month.

Tomorrow Honda also have the chance of securing the 2017 Constructors World Championship and the Repsol Honda Team could take the Teams World Championship. To win the constructors crown for the second successive year, one Honda rider needs to finish on the podium here.

Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda RC213V) was disappointed to qualify tenth for the second weekend in a row after a crash at turn seven during the qualifying session. The Briton had shown well earlier in the day, finishing both of Saturday’s free practice sessions inside the top six. And he was flying in qualifying, setting the fastest times through sectors one and two before the fall. The 31-year old nonetheless feels confident - his FP4 pace suggests that he could challenge for another strong top-six result.

Crutchlow’s good friend Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V) qualified one place further back in 11th after showing excellent speed in FP3 which took him directly into Q2 qualifying. Miller is one rider who feels comfortable in the searing Malaysian heat and humidity, because he grew up in Queensland, Australia, where the weather can be just as debilitating. Miller was the fourth RC213V rider in Q2, proving the bike’s excellent performance in grueling conditions.

Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V) was 19th. The former Moto2 World Champion has struggled with grip in the high temperatures but will nonetheless aim for a point-scoring finish in Sunday’s race.

Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex) tightened his grip on the Honda CBR600-powered Moto2 title World Championship with a strong performance in practice and qualifying. The 22-year-old has been among the leaders in dry, wet and damp as he seeks to wrap up the title before the Valencia.

The laidback Italian has looked cool throughout this crucial weekend, taking his fifth pole position of the year despite a minor tumble qualifying. A second-place finish tomorrow will secure him the intermediate crown and make him the first Italian Moto2 king since the Moto2 class was introduced in 2010.

Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM) was second fastest, six days after his first Moto2 win in Australia, and just 0.026 seconds off Morbidelli. The Portuguese rider, who won the Moto3 race here two years ago, believes his race pace is even stronger than it was last Sunday.

Moto2 qualifying was typically tight, with third-placed rookie Fabio Quartararo (Pons HP 40 Kalex) securing his first front row in the class, just 0.072s slower than the pole sitter. The 18-year-old Frenchman has had an up-and-down debut season in the category and aims for his first podium tomorrow.

Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex) was fourth, a tenth behind his team-mate, and Thomas Luthi (CarXpert Interwetten Kalex) in fifth. Luthi is the only man that can prevent Morbidelli from lifting this year’s world title but he had a big crash after posting his best time, which left him battered and bruised in the circuit medical centre. Should Luthi win, however, the Swiss rider needs Morbidelli to finish lower than second to keep his title hopes alive.

Behind Luthi came talented rookie Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46 Kalex) in sixth, with Marcel Schrotter (Dynavolt Intact GP Suter) seventh and Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM) eighth. Takaaki Nakagami (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex) was ninth and Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex) tenth.

Joan Mir (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW) rode to Moto3 pole position, six days after winning the 2017 Moto3 World Championship in Australia. Although the 20-year old has won nine races so far this season, today’s pole was his first of the year and only the second of his career. Having wrapped up the title, Mir can race here without any pressure and he intends to sign off his Moto3 career in style before moving to Moto2 in 2018.

Meanwhile qualifying specialist Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Racing Moto3 Honda NSF250RW) was close to securing a tenth pole position of the year, but has yet to score his first win, a situation he hopes to change tomorrow.

Briton John McPhee (British Talent Team Honda NSF250RW) completed an all-Honda front row after posting the third fastest time, 0.7 seconds behind Mir. After a few difficult races, the 23-year old is confident about his race pace here.

Jules Danilo (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers Honda NSF250RW) was a promising sixth, with Livio Loi (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW) in seventh. Romano Fenati (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers Honda NSF250RW) hopes to confirm second overall in the championship standings from eighth on the grid, with fellow Italian Enea Bastianini (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda NSF250RW) ninth. Danilo, however, will drop three grid places due to a penalty from Race Direction, promoting the other three Honda riders

The Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix is the last of three Grands Prix held in as many weeks across the Asian Pacific region. After Sunday’s race the paddock gets a well-deserved week’s break before the final race of the year at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, Valencia, Spain, on November 12th.

Marc Marquezzoom
Marc Marquez
Franco Morbidellizoom
Franco Morbidelli

Honda MotoGP Rider Quotes

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team: 1st, 1m 59.212s
“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. Both tires worked very well in qualifying, so I was able to 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, Repsol Honda Team: 7th, 1m 59.694s
“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 set-up 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 the temperature, if it rains or not, and so on, so we’ll see what it’s like tomorrow and do our best, like always.”
Cal Crutchlow, LCR Honda: 10th, 2m 0.181s
“Today was a lot better day in the drier conditions - I feel confident and good with the bike. I think we were set for a very good qualifying lap, maybe the front row, but I made a mistake in turn seven when pushing for the best possible lap time. I lost the front which was a lot better for braking, but not so good for turning. I’m disappointed to be tenth on the grid, but we made fifth position last week from tenth on the grid, so we have to stay positive and see what we can do tomorrow in what will be a long race.”
Jack Miller, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS: 11th, 2m 0.326s
“We made some changes to the bike for qualifying but it wasn’t perfect, and I did a faster time in FP3 this morning. I know the race pace is there, but it is a pity to miss out on doing a faster flying lap for a better spot on the grid. But starting 11th will do me nicely for the race. I’m looking forward to it.”
Tito Rabat, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS: 19th, 2m 1.228s
“Today was very difficult and to be honest I am very disappointed with my performance, I tried 100 percent but this was the best I could do. All I can do now is try to find a way to be faster and do a strong race tomorrow and score some points.”

Honda Moto2 Rider Quotes

Franco Morbidelli, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS: 1st, 2m 6.406s
“Starting the biggest race of my career from pole position is just perfect. I was strong in FP3 this morning and right from the start of qualifying I felt good on the bike, even if the conditions were some of the toughest you can experience. I was confident I could find a bit more time at the end of the session and when I was pushing at my maximum I made the mistake at turn seven. I am fine and the bike wasn’t badly damaged so I could make a few more laps. I’m ready for tomorrow and we know what is at stake. We have worked so hard to be in this position that we must make another big push now to get over the finish line. I’ll try and relax tonight and treat tomorrow as normally as I can.”
Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Ajo: 2nd, 2m 6.432s
“I felt very good today. I’m very happy with this second position, and with getting back on the front row. I think we can say that we are a little more consistent than at Phillip Island. Tomorrow will be a battle of attrition in a way, because it is very hot, we will lose a lot of grip and it is easy to crash over the course of the race. We will be aware of all these factors and of the weather, which can change at any time; as always we will go out to enjoy ourselves and give everything in the race.”
Fabio Quartararo, Pons HP 40: 3rd, 2m 6.478s
“We found something really good on the bike to make this lap, but I also told myself that I would either crash or make the first row! It’s good because I made my lap time alone. I think for tomorrow we have a good pace. Let’s see if we can follow the first group.”

Honda Moto3 Rider Quotes

Joan Mir, Leopard Racing: 1st, 2m 12.078s
“I am very happy with this pole, because winning a world title without earning a pole position would be quite weird! I'm really happy with my rhythm. We’ve had a spectacular ride here, and this result comes from the work done so far during these two days. Tomorrow I can ride as I want and have fun ... and maybe win another!”
Jorge Martin, Del Conca Gresini Racing Moto3: 2nd, 2m 12.457s
“I’m really pleased with how today went, because I think we did a good job. I was able to lap on my own and I think we have a good pace for tomorrow’s race. I hope that missing out on pole position today will turn into a better result tomorrow, and I hope I’ll have fun on my Honda and that we’ll get in the mix for the win. Heat will be a problem - as usual here - but we’re physically prepared, and the key will be to save the tires in order to be competitive in the last part of the race.”
John McPhee, British Talent Team: 3rd, 2m 12.816s
“I’m really happy. I need to say thanks to my team for working so hard because this weekend we improved a bit and made a good step. In all the sessions we’ve been fast, also alone, and in qualifying we knew that the front three or four was possible. For the race it’s difficult to say. My lap times on the race tire were the same as on the soft tire, so I’m feeling confident. I think it’s going to be a long race - 18 laps in this heat won’t be easy. But I’m feeling good and looking forward to the race. We’ll fight from the first laps. We know that slipstreaming plays a big part here, but like I said, I was happy to do the lap time alone, so let’s just try and enjoy the race.”
Joan Mirzoom
Joan Mir
MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix 2017
Round 17: Malaysia Qualifying
MotoGP Class
Rank Rider (Team)
1Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)
2Johann ZARCO (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)
3Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Ducati Team)
4Valentino ROSSI (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP)
5Maverick VIÑALES (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP)
6Jorge LORENZO (Ducati Team)
7Marc MARQUEZ (Repsol Honda Team)
11Jack MILLER (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS)
12Pol ESPARGARO (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)
13Danilo PETRUCCI (OCTO Pramac Racing)
14Scott REDDING (OCTO Pramac Racing)
15Alvaro BAUTISTA (Pull&Bear Aspar Team)
Moto2 Class
Rank Rider (Team)
1Franco MORBIDELLI (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS)
2Miguel OLIVEIRA (Red Bull KTM Ajo)
3Fabio QUARTARARO (Pons HP40)
4Alex MARQUEZ (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS)
5Thomas LUTHI (CarXpert Interwetten)
6Francesco BAGNAIA (SKY Racing Team VR46)
7Marcel SCHROTTER (Dynavolt Intact GP)
8Brad BINDER (Red Bull KTM Ajo)
9Takaaki NAKAGAMI (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia)
10Mattia PASINI (Italtrans Racing Team)
11Hafizh SYAHRIN (Petronas Raceline Malaysia)
12Axel PONS (RW Racing GP)
13Sandro CORTESE (Dynavolt Intact GP)
14Xavi VIERGE (Tech 3 Racing)
Moto3 Class
Rank Rider (Team)
1Joan MIR (Leopard Racing)
2Jorge MARTIN (Del Conca Gresini Moto3)
3John MCPHEE (British Talent Team)
5Gabriel RODRIGO (RBA BOE Racing Team)
6Jules DANILO (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers)
7Livio LOI (Leopard Racing)
8Romano FENATI (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers)
9Enea BASTIANINI (Estrella Galicia 0,0)
10Niccolò ANTONELLI (Red Bull KTM Ajo)
11Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO (Del Conca Gresini Moto3)
12Aron CANET (Estrella Galicia 0,0)
13Tatsuki SUZUKI (SIC58 Squadra Corse)
14Ayumu SASAKI (SIC Racing Team)
15Adam NORRODIN (SIC Racing Team)

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