Viñales began his Q2 challenge by slotting into sixth place to then push and take over at the top with his second try, an amazing 1’58.676s lap. Because of the length of the Sepang International Circuit, he couldn’t get another fast lap in on his first tyre. The Spaniard was the last rider to arrive back at pit lane, but it was all part of his plan in an effort to avoid towing riders.
As the second half of the 15-minute shoot-out started, Franco Morbidelli put in his bid for pole, moving the Factory Yamaha rider down to second. However, with a fully clear track ahead, Viñales wouldn’t give up without a fight. He responded with a 1’58.406s to reclaim first place, be it just temporarily. A late hot lap from Fabio Quartararo moved the number-12 rider to second, 0.103s from pole. He will start tomorrow’s race from the middle of an all-Yamaha front row.
Rossi was strong in FP4 and continued the momentum at the start of the Q2 session. He set the benchmark lap, putting his Yamaha in provisional first place with a 1’59.313s, but he was later pushed back to seventh as he completed his second try. Unable to further improve, he headed back to the pits for a fresh set of tyres with slightly less than six minutes remaining.
The Italian was in the midst of the rider field pushing out flying laps on his second run. He was determined to get a good starting position and moved up to fifth on his next effort. The chequered flag came out shortly afterwards, but the Doctor had one more lap left. Many riders were upping their pace, but number 46 dug deep and produced a 1’59.000s lap for sixth, 0.697s from the front, earning himself a place on the second row.
Following the tragic loss of Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup rider Afridza Munandar this afternoon, Yamaha wish to express their sincere condolences to the family, friends, and loved ones of Munandar.