Yamaha Factory Racing rider Valentino Rossi enjoyed his best qualifying heat of the season today scoring second on the grid for tomorrow’s Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix. The 15-minute qualifying heat was one of the most complicated of the season with uncertain track conditions after a pre-session rain shower tested the rider skills to the limit. Having saved a big moment at turn six on his first lap, Rossi put his head down and set a 2’03.499 to take provisional pole position.
As the last minutes counted down Rossi became a key protagonist in the battle for pole, delivering a scorching 2’00.336 lap to take provisional pole, a position he held for a few seconds before a final hot lap from rival Marc Marquez moved him to second, 0.325 seconds from pole. Defending world champion Jorge Lorenzo shared a similar experience to his teammate Rossi, having a big moment at turn six on his first lap.
Like Rossi he was also able to save it and then returned to the pits to watch the session unfold and decide on a strategy. As the lap times began to tumble he came back out with six minutes remaining and immediately took provisional pole with a 2’00.792 second lap.
He kept the pressure on, immediately dropping further with 2’00,578. A lack of trust in the treacherous track conditions held him back from attempting a perfect lap, his time good enough to take fourth on the grid on the second row, 0.567 seconds from pole.
Valentino Rossi (2nd | 2'00.336 | 7 Laps): “I’m very happy about today, from this morning we really improved the bike. We worked hard with the team this weekend and I like the set up a lot, I can really push and have a good pace. Just before qualifying it started to rain and everything became more difficult. I expected it to be full dry but two or three corners were not, I had a big moment on the first lap and I was very happy to not crash, I have to say thank you to my Yamaha! After that I tried to push and I made a very good lap time, especially considering the conditions. Now we wait for tomorrow and I hope it will be dry because I think in the dry we are very competitive.”
Jorge Lorenzo (4th | 2'00.578 | 7 Laps) “Today we improved the bike a lot and I feel much more comfortable than yesterday. I did a long run in free practice which went quite well. After the qualifying we changed the bike a little and improved it. The problem was in some corners, especially in turn six and turn seven it was wet. On my second lap I almost crashed there so I didn't trust the corners to be able to make a perfect lap.”
Wilco Zeelenberg - Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager: “It was an exciting qualifying, the rain before the practice was of course not ideal and Jorge found out directly on his first laps that it was wet in places. Luckily he didn't crash and then he decided to come in. I think in the second stint he didn't want to do that again so he tried to put the bike in the best possible position with a little bit of safety. Second row is a little disadvantage but with our starts I think we should be fine tomorrow, we’re feeling quite confident.”
Massimo Meregalli - Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director: “An unusual qualifying session, the rain came just five minutes before starting so the conditions were very tricky. Both Jorge and Vale almost crashed on their first tyres but were lucky. Starting from first and second row here is very important as always. We improved the bike a lot over today and now we are ready to start the race tomorrow. We have to see the weather forecast as unfortunately it looks like it’s going to be wet. We haven’t had any possibility to do any practice in the wet conditions so it’s going to be interesting tomorrow.”