Moto2: Champion-elect Morbidelli eases closer with Sepang pole

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Moto2 champion-elect Franco Morbidelli has eased closer to the 2017 crown after taking pole position for tomorrow’s Malaysian Grand Prix in a drama-filled qualifying session at the Sepang circuit – but didn’t make it easy for himself after joining championship rival Thomas Luthi in crashing out of the session.

The Italian-Brazilian nonetheless was able to bounce back and take the top spot from Miguel Oliveira by a mere 0.026 from a surprising ride from Fabio Quartararo to third place. But despite the drama of the day, Morbidelli says he’s trying to keep the pressure under control.

“Starting the biggest race of my career from pole position is just perfect. I was strong in FP3 this morning and right from the start of qualifying I felt good on the bike, even if the conditions were some of the toughest you can experience. I was confident I could find a bit more time at the end of the session and when I was pushing at my maximum I made the mistake at turn seven.

“I am fine and the bike wasn’t badly damaged so I could make a few more laps. I’m ready for tomorrow and we know what is at stake. We have worked so hard to be in this position that we must make another big push now to get over the finish line. I’ll try and relax tonight and treat tomorrow as normally as I can.”

His teammate Alex Marquez headed the second row from a battered-up Luthi, who was taken to the medical centre for examination after the session, with Francesco Bagnaia joining them. Marcel Schrotter was best of the Suter machines in seventh, with the top ten rounded out by Brad Binder, Takaaki Nakagami and Mattia Pasini.

Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer