Jorge Martin has added another pole position to his record by qualifying in first place for tomorrow’s Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang. He’s joined on the front row by title rival Marco Bezzecchi and Italian Tony Arbolino – but Scottish racer John McPhee will have a good chance of getting involved in the podium battle as he heads the second row in fourth.
It was McPhee who led for the majority of the session and with 15 minutes remaining, despite Bezzecchi briefly taking over at the top, McPhee had moved the goal posts again – his advantage sitting at an impressive 0.584. That was immediately trimmed to 0.052 with Martin going second fastest, however, and free practice’s fastest man Arbolino then jumped up to second – with McPhee then clear at the top by only 0.020.
When it was time for the final lap dash, Martin and Bezzecchi both left it late to head out – the latter crossing the line with just four seconds of the session remaining to begin his final lap. Arbolino, Martin and Bezzecchi were then all up in the opening two sectors, but provisional pole man McPhee was also looking to increase his advantage – and that’s exactly what he did. It was only by 0.060 though, with the three riders behind all on fast laps...
Martin then came across the line to top McPhee’s new benchmark by 0.350, as Arbolino slotted into second after he also beat the Scotsman's time. Bezzecchi then made his final lap count and although he missed out on pole to rival Martin, he was just 0.032 down. The two title rivals therefore start side by side, although the third man in the hunt - Fabio Di Giannantonio - starts down in P13 with a little more work to do.
Joining McPhee on row two are Australian GP winner Albert Arenas and Enea Bastianini, who was lingering down in 20th with 15 minutes remaining before a final push, with row three an all-Japanese affair. Tatsuki Suzuki sits seventh to lead Kazuki Masaki and Ayumu Sasaki in eighth and ninth respectively. Niccolo Antonelli rounds out the top ten; an impressive session from the Italian as he continues to recover from his Japanese GP injuries.