Having set the fastest time in FP3 and the combined free practice timesheets, Rossi was motivated to do his passionate Malaysian fans proud again in Q2 and quickly headed towards the pit lane exit, in the midst of the rider field. His first flying lap put him in seventh place and he briefly moved up to fifth on his next attempt, but was pushed back to eighth as he made his way back to the pit box.
With four minutes on the clock the Doctor was back for a second run at the 5.5 km long circuit. He had time for two more tries and was determined to make the most of them. He set a 1’59.498s to take over pole briefly, but late efforts from his rivals after the flag came out relegated him to fourth position, 0.286s from first. Unable to improve on his last lap, the Italian will start tomorrow’s race from the second row of the grid.
Viñales approached the Q2 session with a different tactic than his teammate. Despite the fact that the lengthy track allows little time for multiple hot laps, he waited until most of the other riders had left pit lane before stepping aboard his Yamaha. Enjoying some clear space, his first attempt saw him settle into fifth position and he quickly followed this up with a provisional front row result, posting a 1’59.673s for second place.
The Spaniard made a quick pit stop with a little less than seven minutes remaining and was ready to put his head down again two minutes later, as the times dropped. He wasn’t able to improve on his next attempt, but turned up the heat on his final flying lap and set a 1’59.538s to move up from fifth to third. However, a last-minute flurry of activity after the chequered flag was already out, saw him end the session in fifth place, 0.326s from the front. Tomorrow he will line up on the second row of the starting grid, right beside his teammate.
Keen-eyed spectators might have noticed a difference in the livery of the bikes today. The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders were showing off the orange ENEOS branding on the lower cowling, to highlight the long-standing partnership between Yamaha and JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy (the brand owner of ENEOS), that started in 2012.