Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) stormed to Moto2™ pole position at the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix, setting the only laptime in the 2:05s to better closest challenger Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) by a stunning 0.488 seconds. Marquez Fabio Quartararo (MB Conveyors – Speed Up) completing the front row of the grid at the Sepang International Circuit – with ‘El Diablo’ 0.666 off the top…
From the outset, it was Marquez who looked menacing and sure enough on his third flying lap, the Spaniard set a sensational 2:05.629 to go 0.692 faster than anyone else. The gauntlet was well and truly thrown down, with Quartararo and Remy Gardner (Tech 3 Racing) sitting as his two closest challengers in P2 and P3 – 0.026 separating the duo, with Marini just 0.009 off a provisional front row with 15 minutes to go.
The timing screens then went stagnant in Sepang and that seemed to be that, with no one able to vastly improve on their early laps. However, this then changed when Marini went from P4 to P2 with under five minutes remaining, although the gap to Marquez was still 0.488. Quartararo, after being pushed down to P3 by Marini, then set a personal best but it wasn’t quite enough to improve his position as the standings were set.
So it was Marquez who took pole – despite a late crash at Turn 1 – to continue his dominant weekend, with Marini and Quartararo joining him on the front row. Fourth place went to Gardner, the Australian producing career-best qualifying in P4 to finish just 0.052 off the front row, with Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) lining up alongside him in P5. Championship leader Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) completes the second row ahead of his second match point on Sunday.
His title rival Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) remains close, however. The Portuguese rider was heads up Row 3 and was just 0.068 in arrears – with the duo also having played a little bit of cat and mouse in qualifying. Xavi Vierge (Dynavolt Intact GP) ended qualifying in P8, 0.070 away from Oliveira, with Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) completing the top ten.
Marquez looks like he’s going to take some beating in Malaysia. Will he take his first victory of the season? And can Bagnaia seal the World Championship? The two title rivals line up in tandem on the grid, with Oliveira out to put the celebrations on hold. An intriguing encounter awaits, tune in for all the action at 11:20 local time (GMT +8).
Moto2™ Qualifying Results
1 – Alex Marquez (SPA) KALEX 2’05.629
2 – Luca Marini (ITA) KALEX +0.488
3 – Fabio Quartararo (FRA) KALEX +0.666
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