Interesting stats and facts ahead of the MotoGP race in Sepang
Valentino Rossi starts from pole position for the seventh time in 2003. Rossi has won thirteen times from the seventeen previous occasions he has started from pole in the premier-class. Rossi could clinch his third successive premier-class title by finishing in first or second place in Malaysia or if Sete Gibernau does not outscore him by more than seven points.
Rossi's pole time is the fastest ever lap of the Sepang circuit by a motorcycle, more than two seconds faster than Alex Barros' pole position from last year.
If Rossi finishes in the top three it will be his 20th consecutive podium. Only Giacomo Agostini has had a longer string of successive finishes in the premier-class, with 22 during the 1967/68/69 seasons.
The top 14 riders on the grid have lapped faster than Biaggi's existing lap record. The top 13 riders on the grid have lapped faster than the previous best pole time set last year by Barros.
Carlos Checa, who is making his 150th GP start, has qualified on the front row for the first time since the Dutch TT at Assen. Second place on the grid is his best qualifying result since he started from pole at the Portuguese GP last year. This is also the best qualifying berth by a Yamaha rider since Alex Barros managed second at Le Mans back in May.
Makoto Tamada starts from the front row for the second successive race. Max Biaggi, who won at Sepang last year, starts from the front row for the 12th time in 2003.
Shinya Nakano, who celebrated his 26th birthday on the first day of qualifying, starts from his best grid position since he qualified third at the Italian GP earlier this year. Nakano and Rossi are the only two riders in the MotoGP class to have scored points at each of the first thirteen GP's of the year.
Loris Capirossi took the 250cc GP victory at Sepang on the first visit to the circuit in 1999. Sete Gibernau's best result at the Sepang circuit is seventh place in 2000 riding a Honda.
Kenny Roberts starts from his best grid position since he qualified in seventh place at the opening race of the year at Suzuka. Roberts took his debut Grand Prix victory on the first visit to the Sepang circuit in 1999 and repeated the win in 2000.
Akira Ryo's tenth place finish at Motegi was the best result for Suzuki since John Hopkins finished seventh at the third race of this year at Jerez. Jeremy McWilliams is making his 100th start in the premier-class of Grand Prix racing.