Just seven days on from taking a career first Moto3™ pole position, Leopard Racing’s Marcos Ramirez has become the first man in the lightweight class to take back-to-back pole positions this season thanks to a late flying lap at the Shell Malaysian Grand Prix. The Spaniard will be joined on the front row by SIC58 Squadra Corse’s Tatsuki Suzuki and Petronas Sprinta Racing’s John McPhee.
With just over two minutes remaining in Q2, the vast majority of the field exited pitlane and it looked like some might have run it too tight. In the end, the men who were sat first and second on the timesheets, Suzuki and McPhee, were the ones to miss out on a final flying lap, whilst Ramirez was able to squeeze through and get one last go at taking top spot.
Ramirez had the perfect marker in front of him, the newly crowned World Champion and teammate Lorenzo Dalla Porta and he used the marker perfectly. The Andalusian clinched pole position with a 2:11.758, over a tenth clear of Suzuki. The Japanese rider was unable to match the new outright lap record he set in FP3 earlier in the day but will most certainly be in contention on Sunday thanks to a fourth front row start of 2019.
The final front row spot went the way of McPhee at Petronas Sprinta Racing’s home round, it’s also the third year in a row that the Scot has qualified inside the top four in Malaysia. Albert Arenas (Gaviota Angel Nieto Team) clinched fourth spot having topped the earlier Q1 session. He’s joined on the second row by SKY Racing Team VR46’s Celestino Vietti in fifth and CIP Green Power’s Darryn Binder in sixth, which is the best result for the South African since he qualified fifth in Austin.
World Champion Dalla Porta fronts row three of the grid, ahead of Petronas Sprinta Racing’s Ayumu Sasaki and Kömmerling Gresini Moto3’s Gabriel Rodrigo before Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Alonso Lopez in tenth. 17th and 18th on the grid will be Honda Team Asia’s Kaito Toba after he crashed out of his first flying lap and SIC58 Squadra Corse’s Niccolo Antonelli, who didn’t set a lap in Q2 after progressing through from Q1 as he continues to suffer from various injuries.
1. Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) – 2:11.758
2. Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) + 0.127
3. John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) + 0.232
4. Albert Arenas (Gaviota Angel Nieto Team) + 0.414
5. Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46) + 0.556
6. Darryn Binder (CIP Green Power) + 0.574
7. Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) + 0.585
8. Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing) + 0.611
9. Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) + 0.627
10. Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) + 0.638
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