And to think that yesterday in the wet, he was lagging almost three seconds behind, even finishing the session in eighteenth place. It was a comeback Saturday for Dani Pedrosa, managing to avoid Q1 to then crown his day by conquering pole position.
The Honda rider performed brilliantly, finding a way to snatch the first spot from Johann Zarco on his last chance with a time of 1’59”212: “This is my third pole of the season and I am excited - Dani commented - I had good sensations. I hope the race is dry too so I can try to be competitive.”
Pedrosa shines, but the Tech3 Frenchman no less, forced to reckon with more than a few difficulties on Friday. However, the French rider showed his claws on Saturday, missing the first spot on the grid by just 17 thousandths: “I am happy with this performance - the Frenchman commented - I am already thinking about the race, where I think I will use the medium. I am confident because I have the pace to be able to win tomorrow.”
The Frenchman’s message arrived directly to Andrea Dovizioso. The Ducati rider watched as the pole was snatched by Pedrosa’s Honda by just 24 thousandths, but there is nothing to worry about: “Today I really hoped to be fast - he said - We were able to demonstrate our competitiveness in every condition throughout the weekend. When I saw the times, I told myself ‘good job’.”
In the battle for the title, qualifying on Saturday has a bitter taste for Marc Marquez. Unlike some other riders, the Spaniard preferred using the hard front tyre instead of the soft. As if that were not enough, on his first go he even wound up in the gravel, which complicated his plans. At the end of the session he was only seventh, beating in the finale by Jorge Lorenzo by 72 thousandths, which relegates him to the third row.
There is an interesting aspect to consider. On a fast track like Sepang, where we expected to see a Ducati as protagonist, it is odd to see only two of the Reds in the top twelve spots. Danilo Petrucci is way back in thirteenth, lagging so far behind that he did not even go through to Q2, followed by Redding and Bautista.
Getting back to the front seats, Valentino Rossi’s Yamaha opens up the second row (+0.286), only 40 thousandths ahead of Maverick Viñales, whereas Alex Rins’ Suzuki stands out with the eighth best time (+0.780) ahead of Andrea Iannone (+0.907).
Tenth place went to Cal Crutchlow, victim of a crash without consequences, followed by Miller and Pol Espargaró’s KTM, confirming itself more and more in this second part of the season.