2017 Sepang MotoGP Qualifying Results
Heading into Saturday’s qualifying session for the penultimate round of 2017 MotoGP at Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia, the focus was on the only two riders who have a shot at this year’s title: Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez and Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso.
The man who led Friday’s practice sessions in both wet and dry conditions, Dovizioso, was the quicker of the two. The Italian Ducati GP17 pilot, who is 33-points behind Marquez with two rounds remaining, qualified third. As for Marquez? He struggled and qualified seventh. This was only the second time that Marquez ever qualified outside of the top six since joining the premier class in 2013.
Claiming the pole was the other factory Repsol Honda rider, Dani Pedrosa. This was Pedrosa’s third pole of the season, his other two arriving at Jerez and Catalunya. This was also his fourth pole at Sepang.
But it wasn’t a runaway qualifying session; Pedrosa finished a mere 0.017 of a second ahead of Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Johann Zarco, and 0.024 of a second ahead of Dovizioso.
“I’m very happy with this pole, which is our third this year. It’s a nice feeling because I usually struggle in qualifying, but the track improved a lot with today’s sunny conditions, offering good grip,” Dani Pedrosa says.
“Both tires worked very well in qualifying, so I was able to find the rhythm on my first flying lap and set a good time, and then I pushed harder and improved on my second run. I made a couple of little mistakes but it was enough for the pole, which is fantastic. I’m happy for the team, as this pole is for them. We’ll have to see what the conditions are like for the race as we’re still struggling in the wet, so we’re really hoping for the sun tomorrow.”
As for Marquez, he crashed on his first-flying lap at turn 15, and was able to return to action. But he couldn’t do much afterwards during the 15-minute Q2 session.
“We’re not at our best at the moment, but I think our race pace is better then our qualifying position,” Marc Marquez says. “This morning we made a small mistake with the setup and lost the direction a little bit. Then we sorted things out and I felt really good on the bike again in FP4, but in qualifying I crashed on my first run, which completely changed our plans.
“I had to take my second bike but I didn’t feel perfect on it, so I did a lap that was good but not good enough. Anyway, we’re not happy with today but not completely disappointed either, as our pace isn’t bad. Tomorrow we’ll try and have a good race. It won’t be easy because here, every time you go on track the feeling is different, depending on temperature, if it rains or not, and so on, so we’ll see what it’s like tomorrow and do our best, like always.”
Dovizioso also commented as this may be his final effort to hold of Marquez and claim the second MotoGP title for Ducati (Casey Stoner earned Ducati’s only MotoGP title in 2007).
“The front row was our target and we achieved it today, but I’m even happier about our speed, which is fundamental this weekend,” Dovizioso says. “If you don’t have a good pace, it’s no good thinking about race strategies and we were fast in all the conditions, especially in the dry and with used tires like this afternoon in FP4.
“In qualifying I did an almost perfect lap, and this gave me an immense satisfaction! We are ready for tomorrow, in any weather conditions: the bike is going really well, we are quick and this is the most important thing, because our aim is to fight for the win.”
Heading up row two is nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi, the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP YZR-M1 pilot qualifying ahead of Maverick Vinales and Ducati Team’s Jorge Lorenzo.
Claiming the remaining top-10 positions during 2017 Sepang MotoGP qualifying on Saturday were Marquez, Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins, Rins’ teammate Andrea Iannone and LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow.
Now it’s time for the 20-lap Malaysian Grand Prix. Marquez has no problem getting to the front, and if he can sustain his usual speed, he’ll clinch the title one round early.
Photo by Luciano Bianchetto
For full qualifying results and a photo gallery, click to page 2 below