Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez became the first rider in MotoGP history to take 13 poles in a season when he blitzed the Sepang lap record to take top spot in today’s Malaysian qualifying session run in blistering temperatures.
The reigning world champion set a 1’59.791 on his second run which is two tenths faster than his own 2'00.011 circuit best and only the same margin slower than his best ever in testing, set earlier in the year and in lower, morning temperatures.
Using medium compounds front and rear, Marquez looked like he would dominate the session with Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo four-tenths behind but last-ditch effort from Dani Pedrosa for second cut the gap in half.
Lorenzo utilised the hard front with a medium rear and seems to have cut the amount of chatter being created by a bumpy track which Valentino Rossi hasn’t managed as well. The Doctor is sitting down in sixth place and is a full second slower than Marquez. The Italian's best time in winter testing was 1'59.727...
Stefan Bradl utilised a tow from the little Spaniard to bag a second-row start and has Andrea Dovizioso for company as well as Rossi while Aleix Espargaro’s quickest lap in his second run on the soft tyre was good enough for seventh.
Cal Crutchlow, with the soft rear, ended in eighth just ahead of Bradley Smith and Alvaro Bautista who, with Hiro Aoyama, came up from qualifying one. The Japanese star crashed on his first fast lap after trying to stay with Snmith but came back out on his second bike.
Pol Espargaro didn’t take part in the session after a whopping highside in free practice three left him with a broken bone in his foot. The crash was caused by a hole in his oil cooler, caused by a piece of glass (see below) which allowed a mist of oil to reach his rear tyre.
He was given warnings by a number of riders, including Scott Redding, who saw the blue smoke but didn’t come in and ended in the medical centre. It is not yet known whether he will take part in tomorrow’s race.
Scott Redding has struggled all weekend and ended in 17th, just behind the Avtinia Ducati of Hector Barbera while Michael Laverty finished in 20th
Andrea Iannone will definitely not ride tomorrow after being declared unfit by medics. He has some serious contusions on his arm after a crash yesterday.