It was a strong Saturday for PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team, with both MotoGP riders lapping under the previous Losail circuit record. Valentino Rossi will start his 26th Grand Prix season from the second row of the grid after qualifying fourth, which made him the top independent rider. Franco Morbidelli will line up for the QatarGP one row behind in seventh.
Rossi was unable to improve upon his FP2 time during the third MotoGP Free Practice session, posting a 1min 55.834secs lap. However, he also joined Franco in Q2, courtesy of his fastest time from Friday. The Italian showed good speed during qualifying, which saw riders separated by the smallest of margins for the majority of the session. At the end of Q2 Vale’s fastest time of 1min 53.114secs placed him fourth, just 0.026secs shy of the front row and 0.342secs away from pole.
Team-mate Morbidelli was once again the rider to watch, as he ended FP3 at the top of the times with a 1min 54.676secs lap. Although, with the hot conditions on track, it was his lap from yesterday that saw him into Q2. Franco was the first rider to take to the circuit for Q2 and stayed close to the top riders in the times. After posting a best time of 1min 53.313secs, the Italian will line up for the first race of the year on the fourth row of the grid in seventh place.
Rossi and Morbidelli will be back on track tomorrow at 3.40pm local time (8.40pm MYT) for Warm Up, with the first Grand Prix weekend of the 2021 season culminating in the MotoGP 22-lap race at 8pm local time (1am MYT).