MotoGP leader Francesco Bagnaia will start Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix from ninth after crashing out, as Spaniard Jorge Martin clocked the fastest lap ever at Sepang to secure pole position.
Ducati rider Bagnaia’s championship rival and title-holder Fabio Quartararo suffered even more and was only 12th for Yamaha in qualifying on Saturday.
Prima Pramac’s Martin took pole with a scorching one minute and 57.790 seconds. Enea Bastianini was second, 0.456 seconds behind, with six-time world champion Marc Marquez completing the front three.
Martin also smashed the nine-year Phillip Island record to secure pole last weekend in Australia.
Bagnaia, who can win the title on Sunday, was more than a second off the pace and suffered a second crash of a bad day for the Italian.
He crashed out in the third practice session, but made amends by topping the first qualifying session.
The Italian was sixth in second qualifying when he crashed out on Turn 4 on a clear day at the Sepang track, and will have to be content to start from the third row.
Bagnaia leads the championship standings with a 14-point advantage over Quartararo.
He will claim a maiden championship title if he takes the chequered flag and Quartararo ends up outside the podium.
Otherwise the title fight will go to the last race of the season at Spain’s Valencia in a fortnight.