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Row 2 start for Andrea Dovizioso in Shell Malaysia Grand Prix after qualifying fifth at Sepang. Michele Pirro, who replaced Jorge Lorenzo this morning, will start from the fifth row

Andrea Dovizioso will start Sunday’s Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix, the penultimate round of the 2018 MotoGP World Championship, from the second row of the grid at the Sepang International Circuit. The race will get underway at 13.00 local time (06.00 CET), two hours earlier than scheduled, to avoid the possible risk of torrential rain.

This morning the Ducati Team rider concentrated on trying out various set-up solutions for the race, taking advantage of the dry track and convinced that the time he set yesterday was good enough to send him directly into Q2. When he went out again with the track still damp following a downpour that had delayed the start of the two qualifying sessions, Andrea was further improving his time but he came off at Turn 9 and as a result finished in fifth position with a lap of 2’13.183.

It will be a fifth row start for Michele Pirro, who was fourth at the end of Q1 and fourteenth overall today. The Ducati Test Team’s test-rider started his day in FP3 when he stepped onto the bike left free by Jorge Lorenzo, who pulled out of the race this morning because of still intense pain in his left wrist. Despite very little time available, Michele did a couple of good free practice sessions, finishing FP4 in twelfth place just 1.192 seconds away from first place, but he was unable to get through Q1, held on a wet track. Pirro finished this session in fourth place and as a result will start tomorrow’s race from the fifth row.

Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 5th (2’13.183)
“Today we had to adapt to the different situations that we encountered on the track, both in the morning and the afternoon, and as a result we were unable to try everything we had planned. Both Marquez and Viñales improved their pace and I think that tomorrow there will be a group of riders fighting for the leading positions. In Q2 I made a mistake and crashed on my best lap. We also had to use a front tyre that was too hard, like many other riders, and I entered Turn 9 too quickly and slid onto the grass. Pity because we could have started from the front row, but in any case it was important to be able to lap on the wet asphalt in case it rains tomorrow in the race. In any case I believe we can be competitive both in the dry and the wet.”

Michele Pirro (Ducati Team #51) – 14th (2’13.823)
“I’m satisfied with my day and happy to be able to return to the track here at Sepang, even though I could only lap today. It’s a pity because in Q1 I made a small mistake when I was improving my time. We fitted steel brake discs because I’d never used the carbon ones in the rain and I was improving my lap time but I went into Turn 9 too deep and missed out on going through to Q2 by just a few tenths. In any case now we will work to be as ready as possible and tomorrow we’ll try and make up some positions in the race.”

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