With history beckoning Marc Marquez, the Spanish three-time Moto GP champion had an off day on Saturday in qualifying for the Malaysian GP, managing only the seventh fastest time.
The Honda rider, who holds a 33-point lead over Ducati rival Andrea Dovizioso with two rounds including this, struggled on Friday having a crash but topped the fourth practice before qualifying.
However, on his first lap, the Spaniard lost control of his bike in turn 15 and had to change his bike. Even on his second time lap had a moment in turn two and in his final run was slower by nearly half a second behind his team-mate.
READ: Marquez has chance to clinch title in Malaysia
Dovizioso was the first rider to take the chequered flag and was good for provisional pole with a time of 1:59:236 but Tech3 Yamaha’s Johann Zarco pipped him by .07 of a second before Marquez’s Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa went even quicker to take pole from the latter by .017 of a second.
The factory Yamahas of Maverick Vinales will start fourth ahead of team-mate Valentino Rossi alongside Ducati’s Jorge Lorenzo who will complete the second row of the grid.
Defending champion Marquez is on the brink of his fourth world title and will need to just finish third while Dovizioso needs to outscore the Spaniard by nine points to take the title to the decider in Valencia.
Marquez said, “We’re not at our best at the moment, but I think our race pace is better then our qualifying position.”
“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.”
(The writer is in Malaysia at the invitation of Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India Private Limited)
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