Italy’s Valentino Rossi will launch his bid for a seventh Moto GP world title from pole position at the Malaysian Grand Prix after clocking a lap record in gruelling conditions on Saturday.
The Yamaha rider showed his jubilation after his successful outing at the Sepang circuit by pulling a wheelie and raising his left hand as he entered the pit lane at the end of the qualifying practice.
The 30-year-old has a 38-point advantage in the world championship and a top-four ride in Sepang, one of his favourite circuits, will be enough for him to win the title on Sunday.
Rossi, whose teammate Jorge Lorenzo will join him on the front row, paid tribute to his team and the bike for his stunning performance in hot conditions.
”The team worked well. The bike performed well. Hence I was able to go faster,” he said.
”It is great to start from pole position tomorrow [Sunday]. It is a good position,” he added.
Rossi set a time of two minutes 00,518 seconds while Lorenzo was just 0,569 seconds behind.
Spaniard Dani Pedrosa (Honda) was 0,736 seconds adrift of Rossi while Australian Casey Stoner (Ducati) was fourth at 0,937 seconds.
Rossi broke Stoner’s 2007 lap record of two minutes 02,108 seconds.
Ducati rider Stoner, who out-duelled world champion Rossi in last weekend’s Australian Grand Prix at Philip Island, is in third spot in the world championship standings, with Pedrosa fourth on a Honda.
Frenchman Randy de Puniet, riding a Honda, was eighth at 1,580sec.
The 5,5km kilometre Sepang circuit, south of the
capital Kuala Lumpur, has a combination of tight corners, long straights and challenging, high-speed bends that make it a tough test of race machinery and riding skill. – AFP