Lorenzo vs Rossi battle for second in the championship rages on
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP's Jorge Lorenzo continued his competitive form at the hot Sepang International Circuit by taking third on the grid. His teammate, Valentino Rossi, had a more challenging qualifying session and will start Sunday's Shell Advance Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix race from sixth position.
Despite the fact that the lengthy track allows little time for multiple hot laps, Lorenzo made sure to leave pitlane last for the 15-minute qualifying heat to be ensured of some clear space. When on his way the Majorcan was fast straight out of the box and posted a 2:00.469 lap to take provisional third. He was unable to improve on his time on his second try and came into the pits for a fresh set of tires with six minutes left on the clock.
Less than three minutes later, Lorenzo was back out on the track for one last shot at claiming pole position and immediately posted a 2:00.203 lap, which saw him hold second place briefly, until a late effort by rival Dani Pedrosa relegated him to third. Marc Marquez took pole.
Lorenzo's teammate Rossi had an eventful day at the Malaysian circuit. During FP4 'The Doctor' fell victim to a small crash. Luckily Rossi was uninjured and was back in the pit garage in plenty of time for the second qualifying session.
Similar to his colleague, the nine-time MotoGP World Champion bided his time at the start of Q2. His first flying lap of 2:01.218 put him in fifth position before being pushed back to sixth by Andrea Dovizioso.
After a quick stop at the box, Rossi was back on his way with more than four minutes remaining, allowing the Italian to put in two more laps. He put his head down once more and clocked a 2:00.740, which briefly earned him fifth place before a last minute flurry of activity saw him end the session in sixth.
Lorenzo stated, "I am very happy with third place on the grid, because I knew that apart from the factory team some of the other Honda riders like Bradl or Bautista were going to be fast too. In the end I managed to claim the front row. I tried to get the pole position, but compared to Honda we needed just a little more acceleration when exiting the corners. I think we are getting closer in terms of race pace. This is probably one of the worst tracks for Yamaha, but I am very satisfied with the work we're doing."
Rossi added, "We had to try the hard front tire and it was not so bad, but unfortunately I had some chatter and I crashed. We have to make a decision for the race, because with the medium front tire we are closer to the limit and we have to ride smoother. Starting from the second row is not so bad considering that we struggled with the setting of the bike yesterday and today. We improved more today compared to yesterday, but we have to take another step for tomorrow."