You know how it is – you wait a long time for your first Grand Prix pole position and then two come along at once! Or at least, they do for Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) as the Spaniard put in an impressive final push in Q2 for the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix to secure P1, joined by Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) and John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) on the front row as they proved the only two men able to get within a few tenths.
In Q1 it was Albert Arenas (Gaviota Angel Nieto Team), Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse), Jaume Masia (Mugen Race) and Can Öncü (Red Bull KTM Ajo) who moved through, with a few tiny drops of rain starting to threaten but nothing that affected track conditions too much. And in Q2, the same few spots were here and there on track, but the fight for pole was allowed to roll on.
With the clock ticking down. it was Suzuki who was heading the timesheets before the riders headed out on their second runs – with everyone leaving it late, and some too late. One of them was the Japanese rider, who was in the gaggle pushing to get round for one last lash but just missed out – leaving his rivals with an open goal to try and beat his time.
Ultimately, only one man was able to put it all together on the final lap and that was Ramirez. The Spaniard lit up the timing screens with red sectors and brought it home to take pole number two in as many weekends, with Suzuki unthreatened by the rest to retain second and McPhee securing P3 on Petronas home turf.
Arenas took fourth and is top KTM despite heading through Q1, and he’s joined on the second row by Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) – who aims to take the Rookie of the Year title on Sunday – and Darryn Binder (CIP – Green Power), who put in his second best qualifying performance of the season.
Newly-crowned Champion Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) heads up Row 3 ahead of Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3), with Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) completing the top ten.
Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) starts P12, although key rival for second overall, Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers), didn’t make it out of Q1. Who will take the spoils on Sunday? Find out at 13:20 local time (GMT +8).
1 – Marcos Ramirez (SPA – Honda) 2’11.758
2 – Tatsuki Suzuki (SPA – Honda) +0.127
3 – John McPhee (GBR – Honda) +0.232
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