MotoGP: Pedrosa takes pole in Sepang
Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa produced an incredible lap in Q2 to secure his first pole position since the Catalan GP in 2014 and 28th in MotoGP.
The Spaniard had almost been the forgotten man at the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix after all of the attention that has been placed on the comments between Valentino Rossi, Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo. He responded by blowing all of his rivals away by over four-tenths of a second to set a 1:59.053 in the hot and humid conditions, the fastest ever lap by a MotoGP bike at the Sepang International Circuit.
Pedrosa had earlier topped FP4 and carried that form into Q2, setting the time on his very first run. Despite most riders trying a two-stop strategy to try and beat him, it was good enough for pole and was incredibly over seven-tenths under Marquez’s 2014 pole record (1:59.791).
His teammate Marquez made it a Repsol Honda 1-2 in the grid for Sunday’s race but found himself 0.409s off the pace of Pedrosa. It is Marquez’s 15th front-row start of the season, although he was left frustrated after a huge moment during his second stint prevented him from making the most of his two-stop strategy.
The man who leads the championship by a slender 11-point margin, Movistar Yamaha’s Rossi (+0.673s), left it late to secure the final front-row spot at the expense of his teammate and title rival Lorenzo. Rossi had been in fourth as the checkered flag was waved, but managed to put in his best time on his last lap to leapfrog Lorenzo on the timing screens and relegate him to fourth.
There had been some fun and games between Rossi and Marquez in FP3 and FP4 as Marquez appeared to be following the Italian, much to Rossi’s chagrin, but it didn’t stop the ‘Doctor’ from going on to secure only his fifth front row start of the season by just 0.011s from his teammate.
Lorenzo (+0.684s) therefore will have to start from the front of the second row in what is his worst qualifying performance since Assen. The two-time MotoGP World Champion trails Rossi by 11 points in the standings and knows he ideally needs to win in Sepang and put as many riders in between he and his teammate as possible if he hopes to lift the title. Lorenzo had earlier crashed for only the third time in 2015 at turn 15 during FP4, but luckily for his title hopes he was unhurt. He did though end up having to use his second bike for his first two runs in Q2, before his first bike was repaired in time for his third stint.
LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow (+1.146s) qualified as the leading Satellite rider in fifth. The Brit set his best time on his final flying lap to claim his seventh second row start of the year. Ducati Team’s Andrea Iannone (+1.171s) completes the second row for Sunday’s race as he once again showed good pace on the Ducati GP15. The Italian had been down in eighth on the combined times after FP3, but improved to finish just 0.025s behind Crutchlow.
His teammate Andrea Dovizioso will start from the head of the third row, ahead of the two men who made it through from Q1, Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) in eighth and ninth respectively.
Avintia Racing’s Hector Barbera completes the top 10 after the Spaniard made it through to Q2 automatically for just the second time this season after Brno. He will start from the head of the fourth row as the leading Open class rider after his best qualifying performance of the year, ahead of the Espargaro brothers, with Aleix (Team Suzuki Ecstar) in 11th after crashing late on and Pol (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) in 12th.
EG 0,0 Marc VDS’s Brit rider Scott Redding will start from 15th, while Australian Jack Miller is the leading Open class Honda in 16th. American Nicky Hayden (Aspar MotoGP Team) will start from 19th as he out-qualified his Irish teammate Eugene Laverty in 22nd.
Click HERE for the full MotoGP Qualifying results. The race will be shown LIVE at 2:30 a.m. ET Sunday morning on FS1.