2019 Sepang MotoGP Qualifying Result: The One Where Tom Catches Jerry Out

The battle for pole position unfolded on the grey backdrop of heavy clouds but rain did not disturb the action and drama was allowed to unfold freely. It all started with Marc Marquez sniffing for a tow and getting a premium one from Fabio Quartararo on their first run, but the Spaniard got a taste for it and chased the Frenchman out of pitlane for the final time attack as well. Marquez was glued to Quartararo’s tail and the frustrated youngster could not shake him off - the duo also collecting a sizeable group of pursuers as they were playing cat and mouse on the outlap. It is rare that Marquez is outfoxed but this time it was of his own doing, the Honda man viciously spit off by cold tyres at turn two on the next flying lap.

While this drama was unfolding and replays of the world champion’s crash craved airtime, Maverick Viñales and Franco Morbidelli got some time at the top of the timesheets but Quartararo was quick to bounce back and secure a tremendous pole position on Petronas Yamaha’s home soil. Viñales was pretty magical on mediums before swapping to a fresh soft rear but the Spaniard had to settle for second, in the middle of a Petronas sandwich with Morbidelli completing the front row of the grid, only a tenth of a second off pole.

Jack Miller was best of the rest and lead Ducati in fourth, ahead of pal Cal Crutchlow, who blasted through Q1 on his way to fifth on the grid. Valentino Rossi showed once again that he found some extra tenths overnight to join the second row of the grid, while Alex Rins also improved his qualifying game to start seventh. The Suzuki man opens row three ahead of Danilo Petrucci and a fairly impressive Johann Zarco on the LCR machine.

Andrea Dovizioso had a thoroughly anonymous qualifying, unlike Marquez, whose strategy backfired spectacularly, but the two old rivals finished the day only five thousandths of a second apart and will share fourth row with Pecco Bagnaia – in what is Marquez’s worst qualifying in a couple of years. Joan Mir was unlucky to miss out on Q2 after leading the way for most of Q1 but the Spaniard will be in familiar company from the Espargaro brothers on row five.


Pos. Num. Rider Bike Time Gap 1st Prev.
1 20 Fabio QUARTARARO Yamaha 1'58.303    
2 12 Maverick VIÑALES Yamaha 1'58.406 0.103 0.103
3 21 Franco MORBIDELLI Yamaha 1'58.432 0.129 0.026
4 43 Jack MILLER Ducati 1'58.725 0.422 0.293
5 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW Honda 1'58.951 0.648 0.226
6 46 Valentino ROSSI Yamaha 1'59.000 0.697 0.049
7 42 Alex RINS Suzuki 1'59.090 0.787 0.090
8 9 Danilo PETRUCCI Ducati 1'59.097 0.794 0.007
9 5 Johann ZARCO Honda 1'59.139 0.836 0.042
10 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati 1'59.173 0.870 0.034
11 93 Marc MARQUEZ Honda 1'59.178 0.875 0.005
12 63 Francesco BAGNAIA Ducati 1'59.640 1.337 0.462
    Q1 Results:        
Q2 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW Honda 1'59.216    
Q2 9 Danilo PETRUCCI Ducati 1'59.336 0.120 0.120
13 36 Joan MIR Suzuki 1'59.374 0.158 0.038
14 41 Aleix ESPARGARO Aprilia 1'59.435 0.219 0.061
15 44 Pol ESPARGARO KTM 1'59.812 0.596 0.377
16 17 Karel ABRAHAM Ducati 2'00.072 0.856 0.260
17 29 Andrea IANNONE Aprilia 2'00.205 0.989 0.133
18 99 Jorge LORENZO Honda 2'00.478 1.262 0.273
19 82 Mika KALLIO KTM 2'00.644 1.428 0.166
20 55 Hafizh SYAHRIN KTM 2'01.045 1.829 0.401
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I must say, it was a punk move from Repsol/MM. Sometimes they outthink themselves. I hate to admit it, but I cheered when he highsided.

... by the fact that Marc didn't even need to drive at all. But I guess he doesn't know how to enjoy this or any other game. He need to win everything which becomes pathological.

but even I winced at the viciousness of that highside and subsequent face-plant. At least he wasn't knocked unconscious.

I wonder if shadowing FQ20 was a team move or is it all on MM?

The announcers got it right: karma.

And CC35 gets a thumbs-down, too, for taking part in that fun and games.

I did too. I don’t like to see anyone crash. I’ve been racing too long and seen too many friends helicoptered away to ever want someone to crash.


When Marquez went flying I jumped off the couch and yelled “take that you...”

You want to talk about mind games? Who’s in who’ Head now? I hope he’s ok though. That was a proper head bonk.

and of course injuries are wished on no one. BUT, he's indulging in more mind games this year, is generally surly and ignorant of the fans when the camera is on him in the garage (I know he's not obligated to acknowledge anything but every previous year he has), and is playing at times silly and dangerous games on track. There cannot ever be another 'cheeky chappie' like Rossi-though Fabio is certainly more Rossi  than Stoner, but this tough guy persona he's adopted doesn't really suit him. This incident is purely of his own making and, as we've seen down the years, there's normally a victim of Marc's intransigence; this time it is himself and d'you know what, he was hurt there and for me it was good to see the school bully have his catapult taken away! Maybe nursing the pain might give him the chance to think about his future direction, maybe Race Direction should also get involved here, not to penalise him but to basically tell him to stop being an arse. Much as Rossi didn't like it in 2015 when the psychological tables (wonder what one of them looks like, and can you eat your dinner from one?) were finally turned on him, you do wonder if MM knowing that Fabio is in his face is having a similar effect here?

"he's indulging in more mind games this year, is generally surly and ignorant of the fans when the camera is on him in the garage"

"this tough guy persona he's adopted doesn't really suit him"

Exactly. We all know Marquez is the most dominant current MotoGP rider by a wide margin, but this isn't going to last forever. I think it was David who said riders care more about winning races and championships than "legacy" or "being remembered." Fine, but when Marquez eventually stops dominating MotoGP (which could happen as early as next year or 2021), he's likely going to find that a lot of his fair-weather fans abandon him. Will he care?

There's a reason why people like Rossi, Petrucci, Dovi, Quartararo, Morbidelli, Oliveira, and others (interesting I didn't name a single Spanish rider; that wasn't on purpose) -- even when they're not winning world championships. It's because they're likeable. They acknowledge their fans when the camera is on them in the garage or onboard after a session ends, they smile and wave, they engage. I'm not saying Marquez is a terrible person or isn't generous to fans or isn't a happy guy. In fact, aside from a few incidents, it's been hard not to like him during his time in MotoGP. But he seems to be going a different way now and it's noticeable to fans, I think.

Race Direction takes issue when riders pull similar moves in Moto 3 - with good reason. Hopefully, this was a wakeup call for Race Direction before there is a more serious incident.

It seems to me that Fabio is getting the upper hand on the so called "mind games".

Marc might be beginning to crack in some sort of way. It spices the remainder of the season up nicely.

Fabio seems to be going on with his thing unaffected by Marc's antics. That is going to bug Marquez over the entire winter break. No racing and plenty of time to reflect.

Quartararo has shaken the status quo in motogp and he is a very likable, naturally cool kind of guy. He's not only competitive on the track but also as a brand he's looking very attractive for investors and fans.

It is probably just wishful thinking but I feel we are in for two exciting last two races and a less predictable 2020 season.

Oh well, I'll be watching anyway :)

My fear, now, is that Marquez will ride like a bat out of hell from P11 and either 1) take out a front-runner and/or 2) go on and win the race despite his Q2 shenanigans. Fabio or Mav's pace may prevent a Marquez win, but what is worse: having Marq in a lead group with some space, or coming from mid-pack like an errant bowling ball shot out of a cannon? 🤔

It was definitely a team move. As soon as MM pulled into the pits, one of his crew was looking back to keep tabs on FQ.

Jack Miller was clearly unhappy about something after qualifying. Anyone catch why?

In other news, I was curious why I wasn't getting twitter notifications from Emmett... turns out he blocked me. Is there a term for finding something simultaneously humorous and sad? Regardless, I'll keep my subscription going here. Some of the best coverage around, even if he is a bit curmudgeonly and bleeds a bit of orange 😜

And being relieved that he got away unscathed I must say what bothers me is not the fact that MM shadowed Quartararo in such a blatant way. What I profoundly dislike is that he has the nerve to deny it! And say that it happened that he was behind him but, really, he was waiting for someone else... I call that insulting everyone's intelligence.

The problem is that nobody calls him on the lie. Like nobody was crying in  laughter - and felt insulted--when in Argentina 2018 he pretended that he did not know the rules on the starting grid

I can go on. But I won't. But I truly dislike the constant lying that would be cute in a schoolyard with 6 year old kids. But not in motogp

Great quali! Although the rugby final was more exciting. 

 In my opinion, qualifying has devolved enough times over the last couple years where I'd like to see riders be provided with mandatory courtesies which allow a rider being shadowed in an unsportsmanlike manner indicate their objection and compel riders to move on/fall back. The resulting games are not only annoying but they are proving to be dangerous and an unwelcome distraction.

Most young superstars probably believe they will finally be past their peak when their skills decline. But it often happens when they are still fast, but new kid in town is just faster. 

Marc might be champion again next year, but this is the turning point IMO.