Friday, November 15, 2019

Quartararo claims stunning home pole for Petronas Yamaha SRT

Nov 03. 2019
Fabio Quartararo
Fabio Quartararo
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By THE NATION

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Marquez crashes after shadowing the Frenchman in Q2, Yamaha lock out the front row
Fabio Quartararo took a sensational home GP pole position for Petronas Yamaha SRT in a hugely dramatic Q2 at the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix; a stunning 1:58.303 meaning he saw off fellow Yamaha riders Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) in the fight for the top. Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Marquez crashed out from following the Frenchman, and he'll start P11.

A frantic session started with Marquez backing out of his first flying lap, and soon after the 2019 World Champion was locked on to Quartararo. The rookie kept his head down on his first lap to take provisional pole, however, before Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) then took over at the summit in Q2.

Quartararo remained unfazed though, firing in a stunner as Marquez quickly lost touch. The Hondas of Marquez and Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) were unable to do anything about the flying Frenchman, but Viñales was the next to take up the challenge and he managed to edge him out by just 0.087.

And then came the drama. As Quartararo headed out for his second run, Marquez rumbled out of pitlane right next to the Yamaha and shadowed him around Sepang, intent on remaining latched onto the rear of the fastest man on Friday. But would Quartararo ruin his next lap in order to not drag the World Champion round? The answer was no, and as the number 20 fired his Yamaha out of the final corner and down the straight, it was go time.

Despatching Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) to latch back onto Quartararo, Marquez made Turn 1 in hot pursuit before it all went wrong soon after. Pushing to stay with the rookie, the reigning Champion then suddenly suffered a highside and tumbled off in to the gravel at Turn 2 as Quartararo continued his final charge.

At the time of the crash, Marquez was fifth. As the red and yellow sectors lit up the timing screens for the rest, that started to look in doubt. And sure enough, it would all shuffle again. Quartararo was pulling out the tenths; 0.2 under halfway around the lap, 0.3 under at the third split...but would he hold on? A slight twitch at the final corner threatened to spoil a phenomenal lap but, although losing time, Quartararo took the chequered flag to take an immense fifth pole of 2019 and his sixth consecutive front row start.

Viñales and Morbidelli make it a Yamaha front row lockout in Malaysia in second and third, with a Ducati, Honda and Yamaha making up the second row: Jack Miller (Pramac Racing), Crutchlow and Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP). Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) spearheads Row 3 in P7 ahead of Petrucci, with LCR Honda Idemitsu’s Johann Zarco having a sterling ride in Q2 to grab his best dry qualifying of the year in P9 – the second best Honda on the grid.

Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) took P10 in the end and pipped the man he's fought for the title for the last three years to the honour, with Marquez' crash proving even more costly than it initially seemed and the number 93 down in P11 in his worst qualifying since Mugello 2015. Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) took P12 to start alongside him.

Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) and Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) complete the top fifteen.

The Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix was already set up to impress, but a tale of two halves for Marquez and a few of his biggest rivals mean Sunday is really poised for a showdown. Who can take the heat? Find out at 15:00 (GMT +8) as the lights go out for the premier class.
Qualifying results:
1 - Fabio Quartararo* (FRA - Yamaha) 1'58.303
2 - Maverick Viñales (SPA - Yamaha) +0.103
3 - Franco Morbidelli* (ITA - Yamaha) +0.129


*Independent Team rider
Viñales once again had searing pace in second
Morbidelli took an impressive front row to make it a Yamaha lockout
Marquez suffered a crash in Q2...
...and it leaves him starting 11th
Front row L-R: Viñales, Quartararo and Morbidelli
 
Marquez faces second match point from pole
Spaniard back on top at Sepang as he leads Nagashima and Binder in qualifying
Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) claimed what could prove to be a crucial Moto2™ pole position at the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix, with a 2:05.244 seeing the Championship leader pull 0.151 clear of second place Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team). Title chaser Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) lines up in P3.

Throughout Moto2™ Q1 and Q2, the threat of rain was in the air as the odd wet weather flag waved around the Sepang International Circuit but thankfully, the heavens didn’t open. In Q1 it was Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40) who moved through, along with Stefano Manzi (MV Agusta Temporary Forward), Jesko Raffin (NTS RW Racing GP) and Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), and soon enough Q2 was underway.

It was the worst possible start for one of the riders who still have a mathematical chance of claiming the title though, with Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up) crashing at Turn 11 having not set a time. Meanwhile, second in the Championship Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) set the first benchmark before Marquez got going on his second flying lap.

The man leading the Championship by 28 points with two rounds remaining took provisional pole by six tenths, with his teammate Xavi Vierge and Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) climbing onto the provisional front row. Meanwhile, Binder had troubles on the first couple of qualifying laps and was lingering well outside the top 10, but the practice pacesetter managed to launch himself into P2 late on, before Nagashima also leaped up the timesheets and displaced him.

Vierge was then in fourth as Lüthi found himself on the outskirts of the top 10 with little time remaining. abd the Swiss rider needed a lap to propel himself further up the grid – and that’s exactly what he did, taking fifth with 30 seconds left on the clock. Friday's fastest, rookie Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo), took sixth as he eyes his third consecutive Moto2™ podium, locking out the second row.

Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) spearheads the third row in P7 ahead of Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) and ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team’s Remy Gardner, with last year's winner Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) completing the top 10 after a more difficult weekend so far with a couple of crashes.

Fabio Di Giannantonio (Beta Tools Speed Up) took P11 as he aims to wrap up Rookie of the Year on Sunday, with teammate - and title contender - Jorge Navarro down in P15 by the end of the session. The Spaniard was able to get back out on track after his early crash but wasn't able to move much further up the timesheets.

That's all she wrote for the intermediate class on Saturday, with the lights set to go out at 13:20 (GMT +2) on Sunday for the penultimate race of the year. Will Marquez wrap it up this time around? Or can Lüthi, Binder or Navarro keep the fight rolling on to Valencia?
Qualifying results:
1 - Alex Marquez (SPA - Kalex) 2'05.244  
2 - Tetsuta Nagashima (SPA - Kalex) +0.151
3 - Brad Binder (RSA - KTM) +0.315
Front row L-R: Nagashima, Marquez and Binder
 
Ramirez rakes in second pole in succession
The Spaniard heads Suzuki and McPhee as Moto3™ just escape the rain
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