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Old 10-24-2015, 06:21 PM   #1
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MotoGP Qualifying: Surprise In Sepang

Dani Pedrosa's (26) record-breaking lap was overshadowed by the title fight between Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo. Photo Courtesy of Repsol Honda

Just when you thought it couldn’t get better. Valentino Rossi bumped championship rival/teammate Jorge Lorenzo off of the front row of the grid in the final moments of qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang Circuit.

Oh yes, and Dani Pedrosa scored his first pole since Catalunya 2014 and set the fastest ever lap at Sepang by a MotoGP bike thus far. It was a superb performance, the Repsol Honda man set the time early, a 1:59.053, and no one could beat it; not even his fast teammate (and previous record holder) Marc Marquez who was four tenths shy.

“I’m very happy because today we did a good lap,” Pedrosa said. “Normally in qualifying I struggle more. So I’m really happy for me, for the team, they did a good job.”

Pedrosa also feels good for the race tomorrow and looks to earn his second race win of the season.

“I think that the race pace is also there,” he said. “We have to keep focused for tomorrow, try to do a good start and try to be precise in the race and make no mistakes.”

Marc Marquez was chasing his teammate's early hot lap, but a moment late in the session put an end to his challenge and he had to settle for second. Photo Courtesy of Repsol Honda

Unfortunately for Pedrosa, that sterling achievement was overshadowed by the title fight between the Movistar Yamaha duo of Rossi and Lorenzo. And to the surprise of many, including Lorenzo, was that Rossi was able to knock his usually strong qualifying teammate off the front row in the final moments of Q2.

Lorenzo’s MO is to set the pace from the start and put a good showing on day one, if not lead it, and then back that up with pole position or at the very least a front row spot. Rossi on the other hand, doesn’t always start well, and doesn’t always end up on the front row of the grid. The “doctor” prefers to do his homework and uses the time to prepare for race day. But with the clock running out on the 2015 season, everything counts and Rossi was happy to beat his rival in qualifying.

“Is just the practice, so nothing is done…” Rossi acknoledged. “To start on the front row is always important, but here is more important because I start in front of Jorge.”

Jorge Lorenzo was unable to maintain his typically strong qualifying performance and will have to settle for leading the second row in tomorrow's race. Photo Courtesy of Movistar Yamaha

Lorenzo was obviously disappointed and cited braking problems as the reason that held him back.

“Yeah, from Free Practice 4 we find some problems on the braking,” Lorenzo said. “That was the main problem today. I could not brake at the same level at this morning. I couldn't improve the lap time I made. It was not a great qualifying, but we solved this problem for tomorrow and can be more competitive.”

In the background of the title-fight drama, is the battle between Rossi and Marquez. And arguably, that has overshadowed the Lorenzo-Rossi battle. The tension between Rossi and Marquez intensified after Rossi called out the Spaniard for getting in his way and therefore helping fellow Spaniard Lorenzo in the pre race press conference and in front of the Italian media afterwards.

Valentino Rossi is on a mission to secure his 10th World Championship. Photo Courtesy of Movistar Yamaha

The conflict got juicier after the pair had some interaction in FP3 and FP4, especially when Rossi was visibly less than happy. Marquez denied any funny business. And although body language suggested otherwise, Rossi didn’t refute Marquez’ explanation in the press conference.

“Seriously I don't remember very well but I agree with Marc,” Rossi said. “So nothing strange. Just in FP3 he slow down because he don't want to go in front. But I think is normal; happen everytime.”

2015 MotoGP Sepang Qualifying Results
  1. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda 1:59.053
  2. Marc Marquez (SPA) Repsol Honda 1:59.462
  3. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Movistar Yamaha 1:59.726
  4. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Movistar Yamaha 1:59.737
  5. Cal Crutchlow (GBR) LCR Honda 2:00.199
  6. Andrea Iannone (ITA) Ducati 2:00.224
  7. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Ducati 2:00.23
  8. Maverick Vinales (SPA) Team Ecstar Suzuki 2:00.478
  9. Bradley Smith (GBR) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 2:00.652
  10. Hector Barbera (SPA) Avintia Ducati 2:00.724
  11. Aleix Espargaro (SPA) Team Ecstar Suzuki 2:00.724
  12. Pol Espargaro (SPA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 2:00.794
  13. Danilo Petrucci (ITA) Octo Pramac Ducati 2:01.223
  14. Stefan Bradl (GER) Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 2:01.346
  15. Scott Redding (GBR) EG 0,0 Marc VDS Honda 2:01.367
  16. Jack Miller (AUS) LCR Honda 2:01.725
  17. Alvaro Bautista (SPA) Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 2:01.727
  18. Yonny Hernandez (COL) Octo Pramac Ducati 2:01.748
  19. Nicky Hayden (USA) Aspar Honda 2:01.829
  20. Loris Baz (FRA) Forward Racing Yamaha 2:01.862
  21. Toni Elias (SPA) Forward Racing Yamaha 2:02.415
  22. Eugene Laverty (IRL) Aspar Honda 2:02.460
  23. Mike Di Meglio (FRA) 2:02.964
  24. Anthony West (AUS) AB Motoracing Honda 2:03.855
  25. Damian Cudlin (AUS) E-Motion IodaRacing Team Aprilia 2:06.051

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