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Saturday October 12, 2013 MYT 6:42:00 PM
Saturday October 12, 2013 MYT 6:51:10 PM
by lim teik huat AND shamsul fitri
Marc Marquez of Spain takes pole for Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix MotoGP motorcycling race at the Sepang International Circuit. AFP PHOTO/ MOHD RASFAN.
SEPANG: Spanish youngster Marc Marquez gave the Malaysian crowd a first-hand glimpse of his phenomenal talents by snatching pole from veteran Valentino Rossi on his final lap of a thrilling qualifying session at the Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix at the Sepang International Circuit on Saturday.
A brief bout of rain on part of the circuit just before qualifying created treacherous conditions, ultimately resulting in the top eight riders setting their best time on their very final lap of the Q2 shootout.
But despite the risk of moisture, the rookie and current world championship leader Marquez managed to produce a stunning last gasp effort of 2:00.011 on his Honda.
It was not just his eighth pole position of the year but also a new record at Sepang, erasing double world champion and fellow Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo’s time of 2:00.334 set last year.
That knocked Rossi - who had to overtake Andrea Dovizioso of Italy at the final turn of his best lap - from what would have been a first pole of the year for the seven-time world champion by 0.325s.
The 2:00.336 is still Rossi’s best qualifying performance since he returned to ride for Yamaha this year. Top Yamaha satellite rider Cal Crutchlow of Britain, hampered by a visibly swollen right arm injury from Silverstone previously, completed the front row with 2:00.359.
Rossi’s factory Yamaha team-mate Lorenzo pulled into the pits after going off-track early into the qualifying session.
The Spaniard recovered and was on top briefly but was still pushed down to fourth in the end with 2:00.578.
There are three rounds remaining on the calendar, after today’s race - at Phillip Island in Australia and Motegi in Japan before the season winds down in Valencia, Spain.
Marquez has a 39-point lead over Lorenzo as the MotoGP championship leader on 278 points.
Pedrosa has an uphill task of reeling in Marquez as he sits in third placing on 219 points.
Marquez has won six races this year, one more than Lorenzo but he is aware the situation can change any time in what is considered one of the toughest tracks on the calendar due to the unpredictable weather.
“It was quite difficult (the conditions). Honestly, I did not enjoy the last run as I was cornering at the limit and it was completely wet at turns six and seven.
“But I know the lap-time should be good as it was getting drier towards the end. As for tomorrow (Sunday), it will be a different situation as we can expect rain.
“If it’s dry, I feel more comfortable. But dry or wet, I will try my best,” said Marquez, who visited the track for the first time in February for pre-season testing.
Rossi was relieved to survive the difficult qualifying session.
“I did not expect other parts of the track to be wet. There were wet spots at the finish line and in front of the pits but not much. The conditions were more difficult than normal.
“The rear was sliding a lot but I was lucky to come back. It’s going to be a tricky race tomorrow (Sunday),” said the Italian.
Yamaha satellite rider Crutchlow was happy to end on the front row.
“With a dark visor it was hard to see where the track was wet and in some corners it was pretty tricky.
“It was a bit of a lottery with the damp sections and I think it came down to who was willing to take the most risks right at the end when the track was improving.
“It has been tough for me physically because of the pain coming from my right arm. I first damaged it at Silverstone but the pain has been pretty bad this weekend and I’m a bit surprised because I felt nothing in Misano and Aragon.
Tags / Keywords:
Marc Marquez, MotoGP, Malaysian Grand Prix, Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, Repsol Honda, Sepang International Circuit
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