Moto2: Marquez faces second match point from pole

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Alex Marquez claimed what could prove to be a crucial Moto2 pole position at the Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix, with a 2:05.244 seeing the Championship leader pull 0.151 clear of second place Tetsuta Nagashima. Title chaser Brad Binder lines up in P3.

Throughout Moto2 Q1 and Q2, the threat of rain was in the air as the odd wet weather flag waved around the Sepang International Circuit but thankfully, the heavens didn’t open. In Q1 it was Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40) who moved through, along with Stefano Manzi (MV Agusta Temporary Forward), Jesko Raffin (NTS RW Racing GP) and Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), and soon enough Q2 was underway.

It was the worst possible start for one of the riders who still have a mathematical chance of claiming the title though, with Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up) crashing at Turn 11 having not set a time. Meanwhile, second in the Championship Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) set the first benchmark before Marquez got going on his second flying lap.

The man leading the Championship by 28 points with two rounds remaining took provisional pole by six tenths, with his teammate Xavi Vierge and Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) climbing onto the provisional front row. Meanwhile, Binder had troubles on the first couple of qualifying laps and was lingering well outside the top 10, but the practice pacesetter managed to launch himself into P2 late on, before Nagashima also leaped up the timesheets and displaced him.

Vierge was then in fourth as Lüthi found himself on the outskirts of the top 10 with little time remaining. abd the Swiss rider needed a lap to propel himself further up the grid – and that’s exactly what he did, taking fifth with 30 seconds left on the clock. Friday's fastest, rookie Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo), took sixth as he eyes his third consecutive Moto2™ podium, locking out the second row.

Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) spearheads the third row in P7 ahead of Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) and ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team’s Remy Gardner, with last year's winner Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) completing the top 10 after a more difficult weekend so far with a couple of crashes.

Fabio Di Giannantonio (Beta Tools Speed Up) took P11 as he aims to wrap up Rookie of the Year on Sunday, with teammate - and title contender - Jorge Navarro down in P15 by the end of the session. The Spaniard was able to get back out on track after his early crash but wasn't able to move much further up the timesheets.

That's all she wrote for the intermediate class on Saturday, with the lights set to go out at 13:20 (GMT +2) on Sunday for the penultimate race of the year. Will Marquez wrap it up this time around? Or can Lüthi, Binder or Navarro keep the fight rolling on to Valencia?

Qualifying results -  Top 3:

1 - Alex Marquez (SPA - Kalex) 2'05.244  
2 - Tetsuta Nagashima (SPA - Kalex) +0.151
3 - Brad Binder (RSA - KTM) +0.315

 

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