Photography by Gold & Goose
SEPANG, Malaysia (Oct. 12, 2013) — Marc Marquez overcame tricky conditions at Sepang International Circuit. Early in the final Q2 session the track was still drying, but in the final couple of minutes, the track finally fully dry, Marquez turned a blistering lap of 2:00.011, a new track record. Marquez later admitted his Repsol Honda was on the limit on at every corner in order to get the pole.
It marked the eighth pole of the season for Marquez.
Following Marquez was Valentino Rossi aboard the factory Yamaha. Rossi said he felt comfortable pushing his bike on Saturday and was able to turn a 2:00.336 to edge Tech 3 Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow, who clocked 2:00.359 to round out the front-row starters.
Riders and crew chiefs had looks of concern for the Q2 session. A rain cloud came over the track at the end of Q1 and the track would still be wet in the opening laps.
Rossi was the brave man early on and set the time to beat on the drying track. But then the track began drying rapidly and Cal Crutchlow went to the top of the charts with a 2:01.801. Then Lorenzo, after slipping on painted curbing earlier, went 2:00.792, getting down to times you would expect on a dry Sepang. He improved that to 2:00.578 on the next lap, but others were on flyers as well.
On the final lap things really heated up. In rapid succession Crutchlow went fastest for a couple of seconds until Rossi crossed the line and took P1, but then it was Marquez, pushing his Repsol Honda to a 2:00.011, a new track record. Marquez watched the video monitors on his cool-down lap and when he realized he’s set the pole his fist went into the air in celebration.
Rossi and Crutchlow’s times held to put them on the front row alongside Marquez.
Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa and Alvaro Bautista made up row two. All of the top six riders were in the two-minute-flat bracket, separated by just over 9-10ths of a second.
Nicky Hayden had a poor showing, qualifying 11th with a time of 2:02.900 on the factory Ducati. Fellow American Colin Edwards ran strong enough most of the Q1 session to make Q2, but was caught out when the rains came late in the session and wasn’t able to make another bid to improve his time. Edwards ended up 13th on his NGM Forward Racing FTR-Kawasaki with a time of 2:02.858.
Earlier in the day Stefan Bradl fractured his right ankle in a freak crash in FP4. Bradl lowsided his LCR Honda. It appeared to be a fairly routine crash, but his bike hit the edge of the track and picked up an edge of the Astroturf that bordered that section of the track, which unfortunately caught Bradl’s foot as he slid through. That put him out for the weekend.
Marquez enjoyed pushing his bike in less than optimal conditions.
“It was quite difficult,” said Marquez, the MotoGP series leader. “I did enjoy that lap because every corner was on the limit. Especially in the beginning it was quite difficult because turns six and seven were completely wet. But it was fun, because you’re right there and the bike was sliding a lot. In that moment I knew the lap time would come in the end because every lap was getting dryer. I did a very good lap time, but tomorrow the race will be difficult because Jorge and Dani are quite fast.”
For Rossi it marked his best qualifying position of the year. Like his teammate, Rossi too had a close moment early in the session.
“I don’t know about Jorge, but I have maybe an even bigger moment,” Rossi said. “On the first lap turn six was wet, but you can’t see from the visor, it was humid. I arrive and was very, very close to crash. My bike saved me. I know that I have good potential because we work well on the bike. I have a good setting and we can push a lot. I had to be careful in two or three corners because it was very difficult to control the bike. But with the second tire I try to push a lot, keep attention, but push a lot and it was a very good lap. And I’m so happy I’m second with my pace. And it’s not so bad also with a used tire. We wait for tomorrow. I hope for a dry race. Also for 20 laps will be very, very hard for everybody.”
The Grand Prix of Malaysia can be seen on Fox Sports 1 at 4:00 am Eastern.
Malaysian MotoGP, Sepang – Qualifying 2
1. Marc Marquez ESP Repsol Honda Team (RC213V) 2m 0.011s
2. Valentino Rossi ITA Yamaha Factory Racing (YZR-M1) 2m 0.336s
3. Cal Crutchlow GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 (YZR-M1) 2m 0.359s
4. Jorge Lorenzo ESP Yamaha Factory Racing (YZR-M1) 2m 0.578s
5. Dani Pedrosa ESP Repsol Honda Team (RC213V) 2m 0.692s
6. Alvaro Bautista ESP Go&Fun Honda Gresini (RC213V) 2m 0.974s
7. Bradley Smith GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 (YZR-M1) 2m 1.306s
8. Andrea Dovizioso ITA Ducati Team (GP13) 2m 1.635s
9. Aleix Espargaro ESP Power Electronics Aspar (ART CRT) 2m 2.151s
10. Andrea Iannone ITA Energy T.I. Pramac Racing (GP13) 2m 2.536s
11. Nicky Hayden USA Ducati Team (GP13) 2m 2.900s
12. Stefan Bradl GER LCR Honda MotoGP (RC213V) No Time
13. Colin Edwards USA NGM Forward Racing (FTR-Kawasaki CRT) 2m 2.858s
14. Claudio Corti ITA NGM Forward Racing (FTR-Kawasaki CRT) 2m 3.175s
15. Hector Barbera ESP Avintia Blusens (FTR-Kawasaki CRT) 2m 3.212s
16. Hiroshi Aoyama JPN Avintia Blusens (FTR-Kawasaki CRT) 2m 3.418s
17. Yonny Hernandez COL Ignite Pramac Racing (GP13) 2m 3.651s
18. Randy De Puniet FRA Power Electronics Aspar (ART CRT) 2m 3.805s
19. Michael Laverty GBR Paul Bird Motorsport (ART CRT) 2m 4.198s
20. Danilo Petrucci ITA Came IodaRacing Project (Suter-BMW CRT) 2m 4.310s
21. Luca Scassa ITA Cardion AB Motoracing (ART CRT) 2m 5.199s
22. Bryan Staring AUS Go&Fun Honda Gresini (FTR-Honda CRT) 2m 6.038s