Zarco’s coup de foudre: Frenchman two seconds clear on pole
Reigning Champion Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) destroyed the field in Moto2™ qualifying, as the Championship leader got in the groove and took an almost unbelievable pole position that saw his final attempt push him more than two seconds clear of the field. Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) equaled his best career qualifying result in second, with Axel Pons (AGR Team) putting in an impressive late dash to complete the front row.
With Morbidelli on provisional pole for much of the session, the track was slowly drying as Zarco started to make his move. First knocking a second off the EG0,0 Marc VDS rider’s laptime, the Frenchman then went for another flier – and ended the session an incredible 2 seconds clear.
Axel Pons made the right tyre decision at the right time to put in a rear slick and got himself onto the front row, just pushing wet weather specialist Jonas Folger (Dynavolt Intact GP) back onto Row 2 as conditions began to improve.
Championship challenger Tom Lüthi (Garage Plus Interwetten) struggled earlier in the session before moving up the timesheets towards the conclusion, losing a provisional front row to then line up in P5 for the race. Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Racing Team) had good pace early on and closed out QP in sixth to complete the second row.
Xavier Simeon (QMMF Racing Team) had a solid session to make a good impression into the top ten in P7, just ahead of Phillip Island podium challenger Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team). Remy Gardner (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2) had a career best session to line up in ninth as he impressed in the tough conditions, with Simone Corsi (Speed Up Racing) completing the top ten in Malaysia.
It was a difficult session for some of the usual suspects at the front, with Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) in P20, Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) just behind in P21 – and title contender Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP40) facing down an almost must-win race from 23rd on the grid.
Moto2™ will see what conditions await them for Sunday’s race at 13:20 local time (GMT +8), as the lights go out for the penultimate round of the year – and Zarco faces his first chance of defending his Moto2™ crown.
Moto2™ Qualifying Results
1 – Johann Zarco (FRA) KALEX 2’18.621
2 – Franco Morbidelli (ITA) KALEX +2.134
3 – Axel Pons (SPA) KALEX + 0.628