MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix 2017
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.
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.
|1||Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)|
|2||Johann ZARCO (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|3||Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Ducati Team)|
|4||Valentino ROSSI (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP)|
|5||Maverick VIÑALES (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP)|
|6||Jorge LORENZO (Ducati Team)|
|7||Marc MARQUEZ (Repsol Honda Team)|
|8||Alex RINS (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR)|
|9||Andrea IANNONE (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR)|
|10||Cal CRUTCHLOW (LCR Honda)|
|11||Jack MILLER (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS)|
|12||Pol ESPARGARO (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)|
|13||Danilo PETRUCCI (OCTO Pramac Racing)|
|14||Scott REDDING (OCTO Pramac Racing)|
|15||Alvaro BAUTISTA (Pull&Bear Aspar Team)|
|1||Franco MORBIDELLI (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS)|
|2||Miguel OLIVEIRA (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|3||Fabio QUARTARARO (Pons HP40)|
|4||Alex MARQUEZ (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS)|
|5||Thomas LUTHI (CarXpert Interwetten)|
|6||Francesco BAGNAIA (SKY Racing Team VR46)|
|7||Marcel SCHROTTER (Dynavolt Intact GP)|
|8||Brad BINDER (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|9||Takaaki NAKAGAMI (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia)|
|10||Mattia PASINI (Italtrans Racing Team)|
|11||Hafizh SYAHRIN (Petronas Raceline Malaysia)|
|12||Axel PONS (RW Racing GP)|
|13||Sandro CORTESE (Dynavolt Intact GP)|
|14||Xavi VIERGE (Tech 3 Racing)|
|15||Isaac VIÑALES (BE-A-VIP SAG Team)|
|1||Joan MIR (Leopard Racing)|
|2||Jorge MARTIN (Del Conca Gresini Moto3)|
|3||John MCPHEE (British Talent Team)|
|4||Bo BENDSNEYDER (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|5||Gabriel RODRIGO (RBA BOE Racing Team)|
|6||Jules DANILO (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers)|
|7||Livio LOI (Leopard Racing)|
|8||Romano FENATI (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers)|
|9||Enea BASTIANINI (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|10||Niccolò ANTONELLI (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|11||Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO (Del Conca Gresini Moto3)|
|12||Aron CANET (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|13||Tatsuki SUZUKI (SIC58 Squadra Corse)|
|14||Ayumu SASAKI (SIC Racing Team)|
|15||Adam NORRODIN (SIC Racing Team)|