Fabio Quartararo cannot conceive a strategy for starting the Malaysian Grand Prix from 12th after a dramatic qualifying session saw Jorge Martin claim pole.

Defending MotoGP champion Quartararo trails Francesco Bagnaia by 14 points in the standings, which he once led by 91 points, with two races to go.

Bagnaia could claim a first world championship this weekend, and Monster Energy Yamaha's Quartararo did not help hopes of denying his rival as he could only manage a best lap of one minute and 59.215 seconds at the Sepang International Circuit.

Yet the damage for Quartararo was limited as Ducati rider Bagnaia and Aprilia's Aleix Espargaro, who is third in the title race and not yet out of the mix, both crashed.

Bagnaia will start ninth while Espargaro, who trails the Italian by 27 points, joins Quartararo and 2020 champion Joan Mir on the fourth row of the grid in 10th.

Martin claimed a second successive pole and his fourth of the season with a lap record of 1:57.790. The Pramac rider has not won this season despite his strong qualifying efforts.

Enea Bastianini starts second for Gresini, with six-time world champion Marc Marquez third for Repsol Honda.

“I think starting from P12, you have no strategy," Quartararo said. "The strategy is to try to go as fast as possible, and then see how it's going. But I think there is not a specific strategy."

Quartararo crashed in FP4, suffering a fractured middle finger, but denied that hindered him in qualifying or that he was feeling the pressure of a title defence.

"In the qualifying it [the finger] was not a problem,” Quartararo added.

"Maybe I was not as focused or I don't know, but the first run is something I still don't understand.

"To be honest I don't really feel the pressure, but it's really strange how we are having these last races

"I don’t know if we work in the correct way or not, but we are missing many things and maybe we should do something different. But really strange last races."


1. Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) 1:57.790
2. Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing) + 0.456
3. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) + 0.664
4. Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing) + 0.700
5. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.785
6. Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing) + 0.789
7. Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha) + 0.864
8. Maverick Vinales (Aprilia Racing) + 0.976
9. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) + 1.072
10. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) + 1.145
11. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) + 1.355
12. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) +1.425

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