80th career pole for Marquez at rainy Sepang, but he’ll start from...

80th career pole for Marquez at rainy Sepang, but he’ll start from third row

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Marc Marquez
photo: HRC

Marc Marquez took a historic 80th pole position across all classes, despite the tricky conditions that affected qualifying day at Sepang. Nonetheless, he’ll start tomorrow’s race from seventh place on the grid after receiving a six-place penalty. The stewards decided that Marquez was riding in an irresponsible manner – being slow on the racing line and disturbing another rider (Andrea Iannone).

Fair weather is rarely an enduring condition in Malaysia. The two sessions on Friday were sunny. FP3 this morning also was on a dry circuit stint. Then the MotoGP field encountered the weekend’s first rain in FP4.

That shower was just a warning, as heavy rain soon followed. That forced Race Direction to postpone qualifying proceedings by over an hour. Q2 started at 4:30 p.m. and Marc was able to set a time that proved untouchable for his opponents.

“I think that being able to quickly adapt to sudden changes in track conditions is one of my strong points. Today I took advantage of that, even if, honestly, it wasn’t easy. It was the first time this weekend we rode in the wet, and we even crashed. But the feeling was there and we achieved the pole position, which is a good feeling even if we’ll ultimately start from the third row”, Marquez said

“The most important thing is that we made a huge step forward with the setup in dry conditions, and now I think we’re competitive. I also adapted my riding style a bit, and now we’re closer to the faster guys, who here are Dovizioso and Viñales. Now we’ll see which conditions we’ll have tomorrow, then we’ll try and make a good start and if possible we’ll fight for the podium.”

Johann Zarco was second while Valentino Rossi gave the third best time.

“We started with soft-soft and could see that Aleix (Esparagaro) went well with these tyres. I tried to do it, but it didn’t work and I said to myself, it’s not normal that I’m that slow. So I stopped to change to the other bike and asked to put in the medium rear. We already planned to use the harder front tyre. From the first lap, I knew something is possible. On the last lap, my feeling was great, but I was sliding on the rear in turn three and in turn four. I got quite some signals and lost a few tenths, so I wasn’t sure if I could have done the lap time of Marc (Marquez). Anyway, it was great. I enjoy the second place and wish for a podium tomorrow”, Zarco explained.

The unfavourable weather forecast for tomorrow afternoon prompted Race Direction to also reschedule Sunday’s proceedings, moving the Moto3 race up to 10 a.m., the Moto2 race to 11:20 a.m. and the MotoGP race to 1 p.m. local time.

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