Fabio Quartararo bagged a sensational GP pole position for Petronas Yamaha SRT in a dramatic qualifier at Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix which saw 2019 champion Marc Marquez highside at turn 2. The Frenchman beat fellow Yamaha riders Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT), with Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Marquez crashing, meaning he’ll start P11 on Sunday.
The session saw Marquez backing out of his first flying lap as he went in search with a target locked on Quartararo. The rookie sensation kept it low in his first lap to take provisional pole before Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) then took over at the summit in Q2.
1. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) – 1:58.303
2. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 0.103
3. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) + 0.129
4. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) + 0.422
5. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) + 0.648
6. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 0.697
7. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.787
8. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) + 0.794
9. Johann Zarco (LCR Honda Idemitsu) + 0.836
10. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) + 0.870
11. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) + 0.875
12. Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) + 1.337
Not fazed by an eight-time world champion, Quartararo was on fire as Marquez lost touch. The number 20 Yamaha rider came round to go 0.4 quicker as the goalposts were moved further as Q1 graduate Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) went ahead of Marquez – the Hondas unable to do anything about the flying Frenchman. However, it was Viñales who would hold the advantage after the first run, the Spaniard topping Quartararo by a slender 0.087 as Morbidelli slotted himself into P3.
Quartararo was 0.2 under halfway around the lap, 0.3 under at the third split but would he hold on? A slight twitch at the final corner threatened to spoil a phenomenal lap and, although losing time, Quartararo took the chequered flag to take an immense fifth pole of 2019, his sixth consecutive front row start.
Viñales and Morbidelli make it a Yamaha front-row lockout in Malaysia before a Ducati, Honda, and Yamaha make up the second row. That consists of Miller, Q1 pacesetter Crutchlow and nine-time World Champion Rossi. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) spearheads Row 3 in P7 ahead of Petrucci, with LCR Honda Idemitsu’s Johann Zarco having a sterling ride in Q2 to grab his best dry qualifying of the year in P9 – the second-best Honda on the grid.
A breath-taking Sepang Q2 will take some time getting over. Quartararo and Yamaha are the ones to beat as 0.129 covers the leading trio. Are you ready for the Malaysian GP? It’s one you really don’t want to miss at 15:00 local time (GMT+8) on Sunday afternoon.