Rossi on Pole in Sepang

Henny Ray Abrams | October 24, 2009

Fiat Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi took the pole position for Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix with the fastest ever lap by a motorcycle of the Sepang Circuit, on a day of tropical heat and humidity outside the capital of Kuala Lumpur.Rossi’s seventh pole position of the season put him in perfect position to secure his seventh premier class title in Sunday’s penultimate round of the MotoGP World Championship. The Italian has to only finish fourth or better if teammate, and second fast qualifier, Jorge Lorenzo wins the race.Rossi’s lap of 2:00.518 mins., set on a day of 93 degree heat with 124 degree track temperatures, lowered his own mark of 2:00.605 mins. that he ran on the 990cc Yamaha M1 in 2006. With the lap record falling in Sepang, the only two tracks that haven’t had new lap records set by 800’s are Donington Park and Valencia.Rossi was on top for most of the hour with a series of fast laps, the seventh and best of which came with just over two minutes remaining. When Rossi crossed the line he solidified his position and made it nearly impossible for anyone to match.”The plan is like a normal race, but for sure keep attention because I have a good advantage,” Rossi said before thanking his team and Bridgestone, with whom he worked on “a good procedure for the tire, so I arrive at the end with a lot of time for try my best lap.”My target was to go under (2:01), but on the last lap I was able to go faster. Unfortunately, I don’t see the lap time on my dashboard and I see on the board (2:00.5) and I say, ‘ah, somebody beat me,’ but was mine. So is great to start from the pole position tomorrow, is important, and also we have a good setting and starting from the pole and a good pace.”Lorenzo came closest to Rossi, but he wasn’t that close. For much of the session the Majorcan couldn’t match his Saturday morning time. but at the very end he took nearly a second out of his prevous best to move to the middle of the front row with a lap of 2:01.187 mins. The lap moved him from fifth to second and pushed Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner to row two.Lorenzo wasn’t sure why he couldn’t match his consistency from earlier in the weekend, saying, “sometimes happen that you don’t feel the same grip or the same confidence as before, so for sure this day is not the happiest day of my life. But anyway, tomorrow is the race and we try to do the best we can.”Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa, the pole winner here the past two years, qualified third.The second row was Stoner, Rizla Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi, and San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Toni Elias. The performance was a turnaround for Capirossi, who was penalized for having gone over his engine limit last week at Phillip Island. The lap by Elias put him up to sixth and dropped Ducati Marlboro’s Nicky Hayden to seventh, after a late push had put him on the second row.Instead Hayden will share row three with LCR Honda’s Randy De Puniet and Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Colin Edwards.


1. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 2:00.518

2. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 2:01.087

3. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 2:01.254

4. Casey Stoner (Ducati) 2:01.455

5. Loris Capirossi (Suzuki) 2:01.716

6. Toni Elias (Honda) 2:01.918

7. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 2:01.980

8. Randy De Puniet (Honda) 2:02.098

9. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 2:02.195

10. Alex De Angelis (Honda) 2:02.274

Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.