Sepang MotoGP: Marc Marquez claims pole despite qualifying crash

MotoGP champion Marc Marquez took pole in a rain-delayed qualifying at Sepang, comfortably topping the session despite a crash.

Rain hit the Malaysian track midway through the pre-qualifying FP4 session, its sudden arrival catching out Maverick Vinales, Jordi Torres and Karel Abraham in quick succession.

Vinales, incensed by the lack of rain flags, destroyed one of his two Yamahas in his crash, and Abraham appeared to have hurt his left hand – but both carried on to qualifying, whereas Torres was ruled out for the rest of the weekend after suffering a fractured finger.

By the time the first segment of qualifying kicked off, the rain had become torrential, and soon after riders rode out for their Q1 out-laps the action was red-flagged due to standing water on track.

It took over an hour for the rain to ease off sufficiently to allow track action to resume.

Marquez was into the lead with his first effort in the pole shoot-out – and while he only narrowly led Jack Miller and Andrea Iannone at the start, he went over a second clear with his second attempt.

He was again up on his personal best when he suffered a low-speed crash at the Turn 4 right-hander, before remounting his Honda and heading into he pits for a bike change.

Marquez could not improve on his second RCV213, but his rivals couldn’t threaten his early time of 2m12.161s.

Johann Zarco came closest at the chequered flag, the Tech 3 rider going 0.548s slower than Marquez to snatch second place from the works Yamaha of Valentino Rossi.

Iannone followed Rossi in fourth, while Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso took fifth after falling on his final lap.

Pramac Ducati pair Miller and Danilo Petrucci were sixth and seventh respectively, ahead of Suzuki’s Alex Rins and Nieto Ducati rider Alvaro Bautista, who had topped Q1.

Marquez’s Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa, Vinales and Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro, who progressed through Q1 with Bautista but crashed in the pole shoot-out, made up row four.

Michele Pirro, who replaced Ducati works rider Jorge Lorenzo at late notice ahead of FP3, qualified a credible 13th.

KTM’s Bradley Smith had led Q1 after the initial runs but crashed at the Turn 11 right-hander, and was consigned to 17th as he couldn’t make it to his second bike in time to do another lap.

Thomas Luthi also crashed his privateer Honda, but had done a time good enough for 18th and outqualified Marc VDS team-mate Franco Morbidelli for only the second time this season.

Stefan Bradl, Cal Crutchlow’s stand-in at LCR Honda, was 20th, while local hero Hafizh Syahrin propped up the classification and will start 23rd on his Tech 3 Yamaha.

Provisional starting grid

Pos Rider Team Bike Time Gap
1 Marc Marquez Honda Honda 2m12.161s
2 Johann Zarco Tech3 Yamaha Yamaha 2m12.709s 0.548s
3 Valentino Rossi Yamaha Yamaha 2m13.009s 0.848s
4 Andrea Iannone Suzuki Suzuki 2m13.097s 0.936s
5 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati Ducati 2m13.183s 1.022s
6 Jack Miller Pramac Ducati Ducati 2m13.274s 1.113s
7 Danilo Petrucci Pramac Ducati Ducati 2m13.413s 1.252s
8 Alex Rins Suzuki Suzuki 2m13.463s 1.302s
9 Alvaro Bautista Aspar Ducati Ducati 2m14.185s 2.024s
10 Dani Pedrosa Honda Honda 2m14.443s 2.282s
11 Maverick Vinales Yamaha Yamaha 2m14.856s 2.695s
12 Aleix Espargaro Aprilia Aprilia 2m15.340s 3.179s
13 Scott Redding Aprilia Aprilia 2m13.786s
14 Michele Pirro Ducati Ducati 2m13.823s
15 Xavier Simeon Avintia Ducati Ducati 2m13.971s
16 Pol Espargaro KTM KTM 2m14.132s
17 Bradley Smith KTM KTM 2m14.332s
18 Thomas Luthi MVDS Honda Honda 2m14.843s
19 Franco Morbidelli MVDS Honda Honda 2m14.994s
20 Stefan Bradl LCR Honda Honda 2m15.364s
21 Karel Abraham Aspar Ducati Ducati 2m15.679s
22 Takaaki Nakagami LCR Honda Honda 2m16.558s
23 Hafizh Syahrin Tech3 Yamaha Yamaha 2m16.825s

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