Sepang gave a pretty warm and pretty sunny welcome to the intermediate class, unlike the forecast promised and riders got a full session of testing the limits. With Marquez hinting at a slight advantage on Friday, despite not topping either session, his title rivals were out to chase on Saturday morning. However, the Spaniard had different plans and started his day by breaking his own lap record around Sepang. Chasers eventually reduced the six tenths gap but it took until the final three minutes of the session for a true challenger to appear. Tetsuta Nagashima appeared to be it but a traffic jam in the final turn sent him off course, allowing Brad Binder to steal the spotlight by a fantastic six tenths of a second and an impressive new lap record. That left Marquez settling for second once again but finding comfort in his excellent race pace – less so in the good few moments on replay. A disgruntled Nagashima was left to sulk in third, less than a tenth behind the world championship leader.
Remy Gardner and Tom Luthi joined the top five by being the only other men to post a time within a second of Binder. Fantastic rookie Jorge Martin took some time to warm up and improve on his Friday benchmark but he eventually did and it helped him climb to sixth position, ahead of compatriots Xavi Vierge, Jorge Navarro and Iker Lecuona. Marcel Schrotter rounded out the top ten, while Sam Lowes, Enea Bastianini, Luca Marini and Fabio Di Giannantonio secured the final top 14 positions for Q2. The three Italians were particularly lucky as they were all hindered by trips to the gravel trap: the Italtrans rider getting tangled in an incident with Augusto Fernandez, while the SKY rider harmlessly toppled on his own at turn one, as did the Speed Up man at turn eight.
The likes of Lorenzo Baldassarri, Nicolo Bulega, Somkiat Chantra or Fernandez will find themselves looking for a way out of Q1.
|8||9||Jorge NAVARRO||Speed Up||2'05.812||1.043||0.014|
|14||21||Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO||Speed Up||2'06.178||1.409||0.001|
|22||77||Dominique AEGERTER||MV Agusta||2'06.672||1.903||0.095|
|24||62||Stefano MANZI||MV Agusta||2'06.725||1.956||0.005|
|27||20||Dimas EKKY PRATAMA||Kalex||2'07.684||2.915||0.765|