Johann Zarco showed his sublime talent by clinching his third consecutive front row start today in Malaysia. The rapid French rookie blazed to a lap time that left him first in the final moments of the thrilling session until he was pipped to pole by a mere 0.017. Nevertheless, the highly impressive result places him as the top Yamaha on the grid and tomorrow, he aims to close the flyaway races with a podium finish.
Meanwhile, stand-in rider Michael van der Mark will make his MotoGP debut from the 8th row on the grid after a determined performance today at the Sepang International circuit. His impressive performances throughout the weekend so far leave him confident for the main event, which begins at 15:00 local time, or 08:00 in central Europe.
Position 2nd - Time: 1'59.229 - Laps: 7
“It is so important to start the Grand Prix on the front row of the grid, and I even expected pole position because I was in first for a small amount of time at the end of Qualifying 2. I am happy because to be fast on a single lap is a good thing, but my pace is very competitive, so if we have dry and warm conditions tomorrow, then I think I will be able to win the race if I manage everything well. We will see what happens with regards to the weather, but I am just delighted to have this confidence which allows me to push in this way and I have high hopes for the round 17 fight.”
Michael van der Mark
Position 22nd - Time: 2'02.376 - Laps: 5
"I am a bit disappointed with the qualifying result. This morning in FP3, we made quite a solid step but, position wise, it wasn't where I wanted to be, yet we have still made progress. In the afternoon, I had an issue with the rear grip and then, on the first lap, I struggled with the new tyre. On the second outing I felt better, but at turn five, I lost the front without warning. This is difficult to accept and I am sorry to the team as we were making steady progress in every session, but a crash is not what you want. The fall was due to a number of things and the track temperature was high, plus I don't have much experience of this. Everyone was fast and this morning, you can see that I was only two seconds from the top, which was good and promising. I was hoping to make another step to the group in front of me because there are only a few tenths away. Now, we need to work because the rear of the bike is spinning too much at the exit of the corners and that's the main factor to focus on. Anyway, tomorrow is race day, and I will gain a lot of experience but I hope I can fight with some riders and enjoy my time."