Viñales hits the 1:59s to head the rush to Q2. Viñales, Marquez and Lorenzo split by less than a tenth at the top as Crutchlow gets relegated to Q1
With dry conditions at Sepang International Circuit proving the chance for salvation for some of those left out the top ten after Friday – including Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) – the charge for Q2 was headed by Maverick Viñales after the Team Suzuki Ecstar rider also proved one to watch on Day 1.
After an early duel for supremacy between Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) and Viñales, Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) was then the first man down into the 2:00 bracket, with the Mallorcan taking the top spot with around 12 minutes left on the clock. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) then struck back, pushing hard to top the sheets once again; four tenths clear and within race lap record pace. The number 93 missed FP2 due to illness and was back out on Saturday morning, although back at 100%.
Then began the shootout for Q2 entry in earnest, with Aleix Espargaro (Team Suzuki Ecstar) taking over at the top and times beginning to tumble. His teammate Viñales then shot up to the top with a 1:59.947 to drop below the 2:00 bracket, with Marquez less than a tenth behind, and Lorenzo only another hundredth further back in an incredibly close top three.
Rossi was P4 with Avintia Racing’s Hector Barbera completing the top five, from the man he substituted for at the Ducati Team – the returning Andrea Iannone. Aleix Espargaro split the factory Borgo Panigale machines ahead of Andrea Dovizioso, with Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and Alvaro Bautista (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) locking out the top ten graduates.
Although weather was dry, Crutchlow was the big name who found himself going through to Q1. After spending much of the session on the harder compound rear tyre, Crutchlow then took a tumble at Turn 7 on his final hot lap on softer rubber, and will be fighting to move through to Q1 – something he went on to recover from in Australia to win the race.