Local hero Zulfahmi Khairuddin thrilled a large home crowd at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia this afternoon to grab his first Moto3 pole position on his 21st birthday.
The Malaysian rider set a best time of 2.13.885 to dominate the qualifying timesheets in hot and humid conditions at the Sepang track near Kuala Lumpur.
Khairuddin secured pole by a comfortable 0.266s ahead of German Jonas Folger, with world championship favourite Sandro Cortese completing the front row after a lap of 2.14.599 secured him third spot.
With Maverick Vinales already back in Spain after sensationally walking out on his Avintia Blusens squad ahead of yesterday’s opening practice because of a contractual dispute, Cortese practically only needs to finish tomorrow’s 18-lap race to be crowned inaugural Moto3 world champion.
The only rider with a mathematical chance of denying the Red Bull KTM rider is Luis Salom, who trails Cortese by 61-points with just three races remaining.
The Spaniard set the fifth quickest time in this afternoon’s qualifying session but he will start the race from 10th after getting a five position grid penalty for causing a crash that took out race leader Folger on the final lap of last Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix.
Twin Ring Motegi winner Danny Kent has found the going harder at the long and technical Sepang track and the British teenager will start from 11th on the grid.
The 18-year-old clocked a best time of 2.15.897 but was 2.012s off pole position.
Danny Webb will start from a lowly 25th after a late crash on his Mahindra machine left him 3.660s off the pace.
John McPhee will start from one place further back on the grid in 26th having finished 0.013s behind Webb.