MotoGP: Honda’s Marquez Earns 8th Pole at Sepang

Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez

2013 Sepang Qualifying Results

With a 39-point advantage over his rival Jorge Lorenzo, Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez can’t let his guard down for a second during the final four rounds of 2013 MotoGP.

As the 20-year-old rookie chases the premier-class title, he earned his eight pole of 2013 MotoGP Saturday at Sepang International Circuit. Marquez will also be starting from the first position for the fourth consecutive race.

En route to the pole, Marquez’s lap of 2:00.11 became the new best pole at Sepang, the Spaniard beating Casey Stoner’s record set six years ago.

Joining Marquez on the front row will be nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi and Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow, respectively. Rossi held the pole position for a bit while running in the slipstream behind Andrea Dovizioso’s Ducati, but was beat out by Marquez at the end.

Marc Marquez (Respol Honda RC213V MotoGP) says: “I’m really happy with this pole position, particularly as earning it was a little different to with my previous poles. At the start of qualifying there were two completely wet corners, which made it hard to put in a hot lap as we had to calculate the amount of risk ‒whilst still maintaining our speed.

“I knew that the final lap of the session would be definitive, because the surface was drying out and conditions were getting better by the minute. Things worked out for us and I set a time that I really wasn’t expecting. Tomorrow will be a different story, because Lorenzo and Dani (Pedrosa) both have a great pace, so we shall see if we have a bit of good fortune and the conditions remain dry.”

Rain had hit just before Qualifying 2, yet had dried out in most places of the track for slicks to be a viable option. However, riders were initially cautious, with many avoiding near crashes at Turn 6, which was still damp. Only in their second runs were riders able to push closer to their true potential, MotoGP says.

When practice began Friday for the Malaysian Grand Prix, Marquez’s teammate Dani Pedrosa was untouchable, leading the first three practice sessions. Pedrosa, who suffered a controversial high side at Aragon that caused Marquez to be penalized one point, was beat by Marquez in the fourth free practice, but lead half of the qualifying session. But soon Rossi, Crutchlow and Lorenzo were in the mix, but Marquez put in his quickest lap to take the pole.

Pedrosa, who won last year’s Sepang MotoGP, would qualify fifth, 0.114 of a second behind Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo, who heads up the second row.

The two MotoGP Championship contenders will be joined on the second row by GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Baustisa. The Spaniard has a chance to rise to sixth in the championship standings if he finishes fifth or higher. This is due to LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl being sidelined after fracturing his right ankle during a crash in the final practice.

Crutchlow’s teammate Bradley Smith will head up the third row, the Brit equalling his second best MotoGP™ qualifying position of seventh from the Dovizioso and leading CRT runner, Power Electronic Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro, who passed through to the final shootout from Q1.

Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Ducati’s Andrea Iannone rounds out the top 10 for Energy T.I. Pramac Racing from Ducati Team’s Nicky Hayden, whereas the absent Bradl qualified 12th but is now set to return to Barcelona for surgery. This promotes NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards to a fourth row position, with the grid completed by Damian Cudlin who contrary to initial plans races again with PBM this weekend.

Rain is forecasted for Sunday’s race, which could quickly cause a stir in the championship. Marquez currently leads Lorenzo by 39 points, and Pedrosa by 59. Contingent on finishes, Pedrosa’s hopes at a first premier-class MotoGP title could be mathematically diminished following the round 15 in the 2013 MotoGP Championship.

For a preview of 2013 Sepang MotoGP, click here.

2013 Sepang MotoGP Qualifying Results:

193Marc MARQUEZSPARepsol Honda TeamHonda327.52’00.011
246Valentino ROSSIITAYamaha Factory RacingYamaha323.22’00.3360.325 / 0.325
335Cal CRUTCHLOWGBRMonster Yamaha Tech 3Yamaha320.92’00.3590.348 / 0.023
499Jorge LORENZOSPAYamaha Factory RacingYamaha322.22’00.5780.567 / 0.219
526Dani PEDROSASPARepsol Honda TeamHonda324.22’00.6920.681 / 0.114
619Alvaro BAUTISTASPAGO&FUN Honda GresiniHonda323.72’00.9740.963 / 0.282
738Bradley SMITHGBRMonster Yamaha Tech 3Yamaha319.22’01.3061.295 / 0.332
84Andrea DOVIZIOSOITADucati TeamDucati318.92’01.6351.624 / 0.329
941Aleix ESPARGAROSPAPower Electronics AsparART273.12’02.1512.140 / 0.516
1029Andrea IANNONEITAEnergy T.I. Pramac RacingDucati317.62’02.5362.525 / 0.385
1169Nicky HAYDENUSADucati TeamDucati319.32’02.9002.889 / 0.364
6Stefan BRADLGERLCR Honda MotoGPHonda
135Colin EDWARDSUSANGM Mobile Forward RacingFTR Kawasaki307.42’02.8580.532 / 0.226
1471Claudio CORTIITANGM Mobile Forward RacingFTR Kawasaki303.92’03.1750.849 / 0.317
158Hector BARBERASPAAvintia BlusensFTR307.62’03.2120.886 / 0.037
167Hiroshi AOYAMAJPNAvintia BlusensFTR311.72’03.4181.092 / 0.206
1768Yonny HERNANDEZCOLIgnite Pramac RacingDucati316.92’03.6511.325 / 0.233
1814Randy DE PUNIETFRAPower Electronics AsparART303.22’03.8051.479 / 0.154
1970Michael LAVERTYGBRPaul Bird MotorsportART305.62’04.1981.872 / 0.393
209Danilo PETRUCCIITACame IodaRacing ProjectIoda-Suter299.42’04.3101.984 / 0.112
2123Luca SCASSAITACardion AB MotoracingART301.62’05.1992.873 / 0.889
2267Bryan STARINGAUSGO&FUN Honda GresiniFTR Honda296.22’06.0383.712 / 0.839
2352Lukas PESEKCZECame IodaRacing ProjectIoda-Suter297.82’06.2033.877 / 0.165
2450Damian CUDLINAUSPaul Bird MotorsportPBM303.72’06.2733.947 / 0.070