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Rossi Scores Second in Sepang Qualifying

Yamaha Racing Sepang Qualifying#2

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. A flurry of activity at the top followed and the nine-time champion came in to change to a fresh rear tyre in third 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.”

Crutchlow storms to sensational Sepang front row

Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider Cal Crutchlow made a welcome return to the front row of the grid in Malaysia this afternoon, the British rider dodging rain showers throughout the second day at Sepang to finish third fastest in a dramatic conclusion to qualifying. Rain showers had fallen on and off throughout today’s proceedings and when a downpour fell just minutes before the start of QP2, it looked like the 15-minute session would be disrupted by rain. Fortunately it was only a very short cloudburst but the session commenced with some corners still damp. Crutchlow though superbly calculated where he could push hard to battle for a third pole position throughout a tense and exciting QP2. A lap of 2.01.801 put Crutchlow on top of the rankings by just 0.006s over Dani Pedrosa shortly after the halfway stage. And in a frantic last lap sprint in improving conditions, the 27-year-old improved his pace to a 2.00.359 to clinch a deserved spot on the front row of the grid for the seventh time in 2013.

Today’s QP2 session was also a positive experience for rookie Bradley Smith, who too mastered the unpredictable track conditions with supreme confidence to score his best qualifying result since the Czech Republic round in August. The 22-year-old got a massive confidence in the earlier FP4 session when he set the seventh best time and he took that impressive form into QP2. A best lap of 2.01.306 was just over 0.3s away from clinching a second row start and he will start the physically demanding 20-lap race from seventh position.

Cal Crutchlow

3rd 2.00.359 – 7 laps

“I am really happy to be back on the front row because it was not an easy session at all. It was hard with a dark visor to see where the track was wet and in some corners it was pretty tricky. It was a bit of a lottery with the damp sections and I think it came down to who was willing to take the most risks right at the end when the track was improving. Today’s result is a great reward for my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew because they have done a brilliant job giving me a very competitive package this weekend. It has been tough for me physically because of the pain coming from my right arm. I first damaged it at Silverstone but the pain has been pretty bad this weekend and I’m a bit surprised because I felt nothing in Misano and Aragon. The swelling is pretty big but I am really motivated for tomorrow’s race. It is going to be a very tough race in the heat and humidity but hopefully I can put up a good fight. It will be hard for the tyres as well because 20-laps is a long race and the tyres have been going off quite quickly.”

Bradley Smith

7th 2.01.306 – 7 laps

“Today was the first opportunity to see how much I have improved compared to the tests I did here in February. Qualifying was the first time all weekend when I ran low fuel and new tyres like we did in testing and I am happy with the performance to finish seventh. The conditions were not ideal at all and it was a bit sketchy at Turn 6 and 7 after the rain showers. The team though did a great job and I’ve done some longer runs to check tyre life and I’m happy in that area. We have also improved my feeling with a full fuel load, so hopefully I can have a strong race. It will be hard to fight for the top six but my aim will be to get a good start and go with the leading group in the early stages to try and learn as much as possible. A big plus this weekend has been that we have improved in every session and made good progress with the bike set-up, so I’ve got more confidence for the race than normal.”

2013 MotoGP Malaysia

Sepang 12/10/2013

1 Marc Marquez Honda ESP 2’00.011
2 Valentino Rossi Yamaha ITA 2’00.336
3 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha GBR 2’00.359
4 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 2’00.578
5 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 2’00.692
6 Alvaro Bautista Honda ESP 2’00.974
7 Bradley Smith Yamaha GBR 2’01.306
8 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati ITA 2’01.635
9 Aleix Espargaro ART ESP 2’02.151
10 Andrea Iannone Ducati ITA 2’02.536
11 Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 2’02.900
12 Colin Edwards FTR Kawasaki USA 2’02.858
13 Claudio Corti FTR Kawasaki ITA 2’03.175
14 Hector Barbera FTR ESP 2’03.212
15 Hiroshi Aoyama FTR JPN 2’03.418

Circuit Length:
5548

Weather:
Humid

Lap Record:
2’02.108
(Casey Stoner, 1-1-2007)

Fastest Lap Ever:
2’00.011
(Marc Marquez, 13-10-2013)

Last Years Winner:
Daniel Pedrosa