Quartararo’s unwanted record as he tries to defend his title

Bagnaia has Match Point but he and his key rivals have their backs to the wall after a super Saturday at Sepang

The PETRONAS Grand Prix of Malaysia was always expected to produce drama as the MotoGP™ World Championship goes on the line, but no one could have predicted what unfolded on qualifying day at the Sepang International Circuit. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) is trying to convert Match Point this weekend but will start ninth after a crash in Q2, yet he is still further up on the grid than his key rivals, Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) and Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™). Unlike Bagnaia and Espargaro, Quartararo did not take a tumble in Q2, but he did set an unwanted personal record this season. Read on to find out about that and more in the 10 things you need to know.

1. Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) has qualified on pole position for the eighth time in MotoGP™ (setting a new all-time lap record at Sepang), and the fourth time so far this season along with the Qatar, Americas and Australian GPs (which is as much as last year). This is the 70th pole position for Ducati in MotoGP™.

2. Jorge Martin becomes the third Ducati rider to qualify on pole position at Sepang along with Loris Capirossi in 2005 and Andrea Dovizioso in 2016, both of whom went on to win those races. In addition, this is Ducati’s 15th pole position so far this season, extending the record for the Bologna factory in a single MotoGP™ season. The last manufacturer with 15 (or more) poles in a premier class season is Honda with 16 in 2011.

3. Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) has qualified second for his fifth front row start so far this season. On his four previous front rows, he went on to finish on the podium three times, including two wins, in Qatar and Aragon.

4. With Jorge Martin and Enea Bastianini, this is the 39th successive race where there is at least one Ducati rider in the top three in qualifying.

5. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) has qualified third, marking his first back-to-back front row starts since Valencia 2019 and Spain 2020. He will be aiming to win for the first time since Emilia-Romagna last year (364 days, almost one year).

6. 2022 Rookie of the Year Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) has qualified fourth, which is the sixth time so far this year he starts from the front two rows. He will be aiming to stand on the podium for the second time, along with Assen when he finished P2.

7. Winner last time out in Australia, Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) has qualified fifth for his best qualifying result since he qualified second at the Portuguese GP last year. He will be aiming to take back-to-back MotoGP™ wins for the first time.

8. After passing through Q1, Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team), who crashed in FP3 as well as in Q2, has qualified ninth, which is the fifth time so far this year he has failed to make the front two rows. He must finish within the top five to hope to clinch the MotoGP™ title, depending on Fabio Quartararo’s and Aleix Espargaro’s performances.

9. Third in the Championship, Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) has qualified 10th, which is only the fifth time so far this year he won’t start from the front three rows (including Japan, when he started from pitlane due to a technical problem). His best MotoGP™ result in Malaysia is P7 in 2015 (with Suzuki).

10. Second in the Championship, Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™), who crashed in FP4 at Turn 7 and sustained a small fracture in one of his left fingers, qualified 12th. It is his worst qualifying result since the 15th in Emilia-Romagna last year, when he finished fourth to clinch the title.

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