Dani Pedrosa produced a scintillating lap in qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix on Saturday to score his first pole position of the 2015 MotoGP season.
As the title battle between Yamaha teammates Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo rages on, Pedrosa upstaged them both with a fastest time of 1:59.053 to set a new MotoGP lap record at the Sepang International Circuit.
Honda teammate and outgoing world champion Marc Marquez put up the stiffest challenge to Pedrosa, finishing four-tenths of a second adrift with his final lap of the session.
The result marked Pedrosa’s first pole position since the 2014 Catalan Grand Prix in Barcelona, and the Spaniard made no secret his delight after qualifying in Malaysia.
“The team did a great job!” he said. “We will have to concentrate a lot in the race, because the tires are suffering at this track so there is the possibility of making mistakes, and we must be attentive on every lap.
“I will try to ride as best I can, but I’m sure that the bike and tires will have a tough time. We will have to see how the track is tomorrow, because with so much heat we might not have as much grip as now; we will have to feel it out on the first few laps.”
Championship leader Rossi left it late to gain the upper hand on Lorenzo, going just 0.011 seconds faster with his final lap to secure third place on the grid, leaving his teammate to settle for P4.
With 11 points separating the two Yamaha teammates at the head of the championship standings, Rossi will know that a fourth-place finish combined with a retirement for Lorenzo would give him a tenth championship victory.
Cal Crutchlow put in an impressive display to qualify fifth ahead of the Ducati duo of Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso. Maverick Vinales, Bradley Smith and Hector Barbera rounded out the top ten.