Francesco Bagnaia secures MotoGP pole in Malaysian GP from title contender Jorge Martin, as Enea Bastianini was third.

The time is now in MotoGP as the heat gets turned up ahead of crunch time in the title-deciding triple header. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Time) slammed in a late stunner to claim pole position for the first time since Barcelona as the Italian’s 1:57.491 not only serves as the new all-time lap record at the Sepang International Circuit, but it was a lap that came at the perfect time for the World Champion as he stamped a little authority on the title battle.

It looked as if the pole was going the way of Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) after an incredible initial run from the Spaniard, but a late crash at Turn 4 cost the #89 a chance of improving – nevertheless, Martin will launch from P2. Enea Bastianini (Ducati Lenovo Team) made it a Ducati front-row lockout after he climbed his way through Q1 at the PETRONAS Grand Prix of Malaysia to bag his first front-row start of the season.

The Q1 battle

It was a tense affair as always in Q1 as the likes of Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), Aleix Espargaro (Ducati Lenovo Team), Joan Mir (Repsol Honda Team), and Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) were ready to battle it out for the top two positions.

Marquez was looking for a tow once again, and after a game of cat and mouse with Morbidelli the Spaniard ended up throwing his Repsol Honda at the scenery whilst down 10th place. In the end, it was Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing MotoGP) who landed a stellar 1:57.823 to take top spot and promote himself to Q2. The Italian got the better of his former teammate Bastianini who finished 0.088s shy of his compatriot but did enough to take the final Q2 spot.

Gloves off in Q2!

The pace was hot right from off the off as the 1:57s came straight away with Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP) setting the first benchmark. A plethora of red sectors then followed as fast laps came in from every direction. Martin then made his intentions clear as he delivered exactly what was needed, putting down the first new all-time lap record flyer which he set whilst chasing down his title rival Bagnaia.

The riders then came back into the pitlane for a change of rubber. Bastianini put together two strong laps to put himself into P2 on his one remaining softer tyre that was available to him, while teammate Bagnaia was on a charge. However, a Turn 9 crash for Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) saw the yellow flags hinder the World Champion’s progression.

There was life left in Q2 yet however as the Italian had the bit between his teeth and his sights set on pole position. Pecco found a solid chunk of time in Sector 3 and went on to snatch pole position from his title rival as the gauntlet had well and truly been thrown ahead of the first Grand Prix of the title showdown.

The chasing pack

After topping Practice, Alex Marquez was looking strong heading into Q2. The Spaniard missed out on the top three by a whisker but will line up on the front of Row 2 in P4 with the Mooney VR46 Racing Team duo of Marini and Marco Bezzecchi joining him in 5th and 6th.

Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) lines up in P7 as the South African was the first rider to fail to break the 1:58 barrier. Binder will be joined on the third row by Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) as the pair bagged P8 and P9 in Q2 respectively.

The fourth row of the grid will feature Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) who rounded out the top 10 ahead of Di Giannantonio, who failed to replicate his 1:57.8 from Q1 after crashing in Q2. The Italian has to settle for P11 on the grid, with Australian GP winner Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) completing the top 12.

Here’s the full results:

[Note: The story is as per press release]