Memories of a bruising morning for the Repsol Honda Team quickly vanished as Marc Marquez put in a pair of incredible laps to advance from Q1 and then grab a front row birth for Sunday’s race.
With his back seemingly against the wall, Marc Marquez did what he does best and performed when it mattered most. The first magic lap came at the end of Q1, having barely challenged the top five, the #93 went 1.2 seconds faster than his previous best lap to take second in the session and move to Q2. Perfectly timed, the delight was clear to see as the eight-time World Champion pounded his chest in celebration.
The story repeated itself in Q2, Marquez setting a best lap of 1’59.347 on his first run and with the clock rapidly decreasing as he went back out for a second attempt. Finding another 0.9s, Marquez shot up to third thanks to a 1’58.454 and secured his third front row start since his return to competition in Aragon. The performance left even Marquez himself at a loss for words to explain his incredible performance.
Free Practice 3 was poised to be a crucial session, the rain holding and a number of riders hunting fast times after Friday afternoon’s downpour. But for the Repsol Honda Team it would become an incredibly complicated session as traffic and two crashes impacted the team’s performance. Riding slowly on the racing line, Franco Morbidelli disturbed a number of riders – including Marc Marquez. The disruption while on a hot lap, combined with falling rain, meant the #93 was unable to secure a place in the top ten. On the other side of the Repsol Honda Team, falls at Turn 15 and Turn 1 for Espargaro cemented a troublesome morning.
Espargaro would ultimately struggle with a third crash in Free Practice 4, at Turn 8. Setting a best time of 1’59.363 in Q1 for seventh, Espargaro will start 20th for Sunday’s race after the penalty has been applied. Rain may provide salvation for the #44.
The 20-lap Malaysian Grand Prix is scheduled to commence at 15:00 Local Time. Whether the rain comes remains the biggest question looming overnight.