SEPANG, Malaysia (Reuters) - Fabio Quartararo smashed the lap record at the Sepang International Circuit to earn Petronas Yamaha a home pole position for Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix, while MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez suffered a nasty crash.
Quartararo’s one minute 58.303 seconds lap helped the rookie finish ahead of Maverick Vinales (1:58.406), with Franco Morbidelli completing the Yamaha front-row lockout.
Marquez, who sewed up his sixth MotoGP title and fourth in a row in Thailand last month, spent much of the session trailing Quartararo before suffering a massive highside entering Turn 2.
The Honda rider was thrown off his bike and landed awkwardly before gingerly walking away following the accident. He will start 11th, his worst qualifying performance since the 2015 Italian Grand Prix.
Marquez finally off his back, Quartararo came up with a blinding lap with two minutes to go and smashed his visor in celebration.
“It was really tough because, honestly, I knew that Marc wanted to follow me,” the French rider said after claiming his fifth pole of 2019 for his sixth consecutive front-row start.
“We made quite the slow lap out of the pit lane. I was not really confident about the tyres.
“In the first corner I go wide, then I make a mistake in Turn 2, and almost highside in Turn 5. It was quite difficult to make the decision but I managed to get a clear lap in the last lap.”
Pramac Ducati rider Jack Miller will start fourth with LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow and Yamaha’s Italian great Valentino Rossi joining him in the second row.
Triple MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo of Repsol Honda will start 18th after going more than a second short of the Q1 pace.
Marquez has extended his championship lead to an unbeatable 375 points with two races remaining, in Malaysia and on home soil in Valencia.
Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; Editing by Jacqueline Wong