Vroom into history

A first for Malaysian team: Petronas Yamaha SRT’s French rider Fabio Quartararo (right) celebrates after earning the pole position at the Spanish MotoGP. He’s also the youngest rider in history to take the first place on the grid in MotorGP races. Teammate Franco Morbidelli (left) made it a double joy by claiming second place.— AFP

PETALING JAYA: History was made for Malaysia and South-East Asia as the Petronas Yamaha Sepang Racing Team (SRT) romped to a stunning one-two on the grid in the MotoGP qualifying session for the Spanish Motorcycle Grand Prix.

In only the Malaysian team’s fourth ever Grand Prix start on Saturday, French rookie Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli claimed the top two positions on the grid.

Quartararo not just achieved his first MotoGP pole but made history as the youngest rider ever to do so in the premier class while Morbidelli grabbed a magnificent second position – his best result so far.

The fearless Quartararo, at just 20 years and 14 days, now holds the honour of being the youngest poleman in MotoGP history after posting a 1:38.880 lap on his second run to break the Jerez Angel Nieto Circuit record of 1:36.957.

“It’s incredible. I still can’t believe it. I did not expect to take pole today, so it was fantastic. This is the result of the entire team’s work throughout the weekend. I want to thank them for making this possible.

“In addition to being fast over a single lap, I think our race pace is good, so I hope to be able to fight for a great result. This pole and Franco’s second position are very special for the team,” said Quartararo.

Petronas Yamaha SRT team principal Datuk Razlan Razali described it as an unforgettable day for South-East Asia’s first team to compete in MotoGP.

“We are a new team in the class and it is incredible to achieve a 1-2 at only the fourth round of the year. I hope we can achieve this more often during the season.

“We had an ambitious target to get an overall top six finish but this is just unexpected,” he said.

Morbidelli, who grabbed his first front row start in the premier class by finishing second with his 1:36.962 lap, is looking to build on it in the race.

“When I finished the lap, I looked at the circuit’s video screen and saw all the members of the team celebrating it, I couldn’t believe it. Then I saw that Fabio (Quartararo) had taken pole position too. It’s a great day for Petronas Yamaha SRT.”

Meanwhile, Malaysian rider Khairul Idham Pawi did not start the Moto2 race after he underwent surgery in Barcelona to treat an open fracture to the fifth finger of his right hand.

The Petronas Sprinta Racing rider suffered the injury after crashing in the first free practice session on Friday.

Khairul is racing in his second season in the intermediate class.

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