Sepang - Andrea Dovizioso took pole position on Saturday for the Malaysia
MotoGP as fellow Italian Valentino Rossi helped his own chances of
finishing second in the world championship by storming to the front row.
Dovizioso clocked a 2min 11.485secs lap for his second pole of the
season on a newly repaved Sepang circuit that riders complained was
taking too long to dry after Malaysia's tropical rains.
really happy to make a pole position because the conditions were
difficult," said Dovizioso, who pitted amid qualifying for a tyre switch
that confirmed the pole.
"I was able to improve on the last lap
with the hard tyre and ... was able to go much faster. So I'm really
happy about that speed."
"It wasn't easy but we did a great job."
Honda's Marc Marquez of Spain having clinched the MotoGP crown two
weeks ago in Japan, Sunday is set up for a contest between Rossi and
Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo for runner-up honours in the world
The 37-year-old legend Rossi leads the Spaniard by 24 points with two races left.
the frantic late stages of qualifying on Saturday, Rossi leap-frogged
Lorenzo into second position, finishing just 0.246 behind Dovizioso.
was a far better result for Rossi than in Australia the previous week,
when he managed only 15th on the grid yet still stormed to a
second-place finish behind winner Cal Crutchlow of Honda.- 'Anything can happen' -
"Everybody is hoping for a dry race tomorrow because we will be able to see a good fight," Rossi said.
"It's not the normal conditions," he said of the slow pace of drying in some spots.
"So anything can happen tomorrow."
the 2015 world champ, rounds out the front row, while Marquez leads the
second line after finishing fourth in qualifying despite battling
gastroenteritis for days.
No rider has been as successful at Sepang as Rossi, who has won here six times.
the nine-time world champion has not won in Malaysia since 2010, which
was also the last year he took the MotoGP world title.
temperatures have been moderate this week, but can top 50 degrees
centigrade (122 Fahrenheit) -- straining both man and machine.
The tropical humidity and sudden heavy downpours also can pose control issues.
had to contend with a heavy rain Saturday that soaked the track before
final qualifying got going and were still adapting to the repaving.
"We have to work in these conditions, but starting in the front row is really good," Rossi said.
Modifications to some turns also have made it a learning process this week, with several riders going down at various points.
Track officials said all the changes were aimed at improving run-off and tyre grip.
some riders have complained in particular about the difficulty
negotiating the modified hairpin final curve, which now slopes away from
the direction of the turn.
Lorenzo called the curve "strange" but praised the repaving overall for resulting in "excellent" tyre grip.
Grids for Sunday's Malaysia MotoGP at the Sepang circuit after Saturday's qualifying:MotoGP
1. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA/Ducati) 2min 11.485secs, 2. Valentino Rossi (ITA/Yamaha) at 0.246, 3. Jorge Lorenzo (ESP/Yamaha) 0.302, 4. Marc Marquez (ESP/Honda) 0.389, 5. Cal Crutchlow (GBR/Honda) 1.073, 6. Andrea Iannone (ITA/Ducati) 1.113, 7. Aleix Espargaro (ESP/Suzuki) 1.384, 8. Maverick Vinales (ESP/Suzuki) 1.496, 9. Alvaro Bautista (ESP/Aprilia) 1.840, 10. Loris Baz (FRA/Ducati) 1.967
1. Brad Binder (RSA/KTM) 2min 26.268secs, 2. Jorge Navarro (ESP/Honda) at 0.093, 3. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA/Mahindra) 0.127, 4. Lorenzo Dalla Porta (ITA/KTM) 0.81, 5. Gabriel Rodrigo (ARG/KTM) 1.039, 6. Niccolo Antonelli (ITA/Honda) 1.087, 7. Bo Bendsneyder (NED/KTM) 1.336, 8. Jorge Martin (ESP/Mahindra) 1.374, 9. Fabio Quartararo (FRA/KTM) 1.393, 10. Aron Canet (ESP/Honda) 1.656