MotoGP Raceweek: Fabio Quartararo eyeing first win after rare Marc Marquez mistake

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A crash for Marc Marquez has presented an opportunity for Fabio Quartararo and his Yamaha colleagues to end the world champion's win streak.
A crash for Marc Marquez has presented an opportunity for Fabio Quartararo and his Yamaha colleagues to end the world champion's win streak.

Fabio Quartararo will hope a rare mistake from in-form Marc Marquez can help him claim a first MotoGP victory at the Malaysian Grand Prix.

In the penultimate race of a 2019 season utterly dominated by six-time world champion Marquez, Quartararo will head Maverick Vinales and Franco Morbidelli in an all-Yamaha front row.

Marquez, meanwhile, will start in 11th position after crashing in Q2, suffering a vicious highside when he sought a tow from Quartararo in a dramatic session.

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Jack Miller and Cal Crutchlow are the top Ducati and Honda riders respectively, with Valentino Rossi completing the second row in sixth.

Alex Rins, third in the riders' championship, starts seventh, with Andrea Dovizioso, who is second overall, down in 10th, just one grid spot ahead of Marquez.

Records have tumbled this season as Marquez has 11 wins and five runners-up finishes from 17 races, retiring just once in Austin.

The Repsol Honda star has won five straight going into this race in Malaysia, the home of Quartararo and Morbidelli's Petronas Yamaha team.

But Marquez's qualifying crash gives pole-sitter Quartararo a strong chance to cap a superb first season in the premier class with a maiden race triumph.

Quartararo, who also set two lap records in practice on Friday, has claimed his fifth pole in 2019 but is yet to finish on the top step.

The Frenchman, who this week received confirmation he will ride the factory-spec Yamaha in 2020, said: "We came to Malaysia from a tough weekend in Australia and we've suffered a lot to get to here. 

"But it's the home race for the team and, while they've not put pressure on us, they clearly want us to perform. 

"That makes the pole position very special for me and the double front row even more special for the team. I'm feeling good for the race; like we're ready to go now." 

 

FELLOW YAMAHAS IN THE MIX

Marquez and Dovizioso may still pose a threat from further back on the grid, but even if they do not, Vinales and Morbidelli will provide competition from closer to home, a gap of just 0.129secs having covered the front three.

Vinales is one of only five riders to have won a race this season but crashed out last week in Australia when he looked to be on course for victory before a last-lap duel with Marquez.

Despite his retirement coming when he was going for glory last time out, Vinales has no plans to change his approach.

"I will try to take the lead in the first corner and then I will push at my maximum from the beginning," he said.

"Like I've said before, we have nothing to lose and everything to win, so we're going to push, push, and push, and we'll see."

Morbidelli, meanwhile, has shown strong qualifying pace in the second half of the season but is yet to translate that into a podium finish.

Rossi is also within striking distance, desperate to end a 14-race streak without finishing in the top three. It is also 44 races since he has won, the joint-worst stretch of the 40-year-old's storied career.

 

MARQUEZ EYEING RECORD POINTS HAUL

Marquez's qualifying result was his worst since the Italian Grand Prix back in 2015 but despite that, he will like his chances of breaking another record this weekend.

This time he is looking to get the best points tally in a single MotoGP season. He needs nine points to better the record held by his team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, which is 383 points from the 2010 campaign.

"I'm OK, but of course I'm painful around the body - it was a big crash," Marquez said after qualifying.

"We set up the bike in a way to have the good race rhythm, but we were struggling for one lap pace.

"I just maybe changed [direction] a little bit too aggressive and honestly speaking I'm more disappointed to start 11th than for the crash.

"Yamaha riders, when they have new tyres, are very fast. I was behind Quartararo, he changed direction and I tried to copy. But I just flew.

"We will see what we can do. From 11th it will be difficult, even if we did have a good rhythm in FP4."

If Marquez can recover to make the podium, it will be his 17th top-three finish of the season, topping his previous best haul of 16.

THE GRID

1. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha)
2. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha)
3. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha)
4. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing)
5. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda)
6. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha)
7. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar)
8. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati)
9. Johann Zarco (LCR Honda)
10. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati)
11. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda)
12. Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing)

PREVIOUS WINNERS

2018: Marc Marquez
2017: Andrea Dovizioso
2016: Andrea Dovizioso
2015: Dani Pedrosa

TITLE STANDINGS

Riders

1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) 375
2. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 240 (-135)
3. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) 183 (-192)
4. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) 176 (-199)
5. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati) 169 (-206)

Teams

1. Ducati 409
2. Repsol Honda 408 (-1)
3. Monster Energy Yamaha 329 (-80)
4. Petronas Yamaha 268 (-141)
5. Suzuki Ecstar 264 (-145)

WEATHER FORECAST

Sunday's race will be hot – with temperatures at around 30 degrees Celcius – and humid. The unknown is whether it will be a dry race, with the present chance of rain rated at around 25 per cent, but changing regularly.

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