Francesco Bagnaia snatched away a crucial Malaysian MotoGP pole position from Jorge Martin at the death after the Spaniard crashed on his final flying effort.

From the outset, it seemed Martin was once again the man to beat over a single lap as he posted a new lap record of the Sepang International Circuit as the opening runs concluded, the Pramac Ducati pilot banging in a 1:57.549s effort to head Gresini’s Alex Marquez.

Bagnaia meanwhile could only manage fifth in the opening salvo, the reigning world champion left with a stiff 0.445s deficit to make up on his championship rival.

He was thrown a bone during the final runs though after Martin asked a little too much from his machine into Turn 4, resulting in him losing the front of the bike and sliding off into the gravel – leaving Bagnaia up front and Martin powerless to stop his onslaught.

The Italian strung together a belting effort to record a 1:57.491s to grab the provisional pole by just 0.058s over Martin, with few others looking quick enough to deny him.

This is ultimately how the session would end as Bagnaia picked up his seventh pole of the year – his first since Catalunya over two months ago – while Martin held onto second by virtue of his strong opening effort, giving him a good opportunity to attack Bagnaia early in the races.

Enea Bastianini meanwhile found some much-needed form after escaping the clutches of Q1, the factory Ducati rider lapping just 0.099s away from team-mate Bagnaia to secure the final spot on the front row behind the title hopefuls.

Alex Marquez came up next for Gresini in fourth, while VR46 pairing Luca Marini and Marco Bezzecchi completed an all-Ducati top six. Marini looked to have the speed to challenge for pole before a late crash scuppered his chances.

Brad Binder was best of the rest in seventh for KTM, albeit well over half a second adrift of Bagnaia’s scorching benchmark.

Fabio Quartararo ended up eighth for Yamaha ahead of Aprilia’s Maverick Vinales, while the other factory KTM of Jack Miller completed the top ten.

Fabio Di Gianantonio took 11th after crashing ahead of his final run, while Johann Zarco never posted a competitive tour after continually getting compromised by yellow flags.

Aleix Espargaro meanwhile missed out on the pole shootout despite looking much more at home on his Aprilia compared to Friday, primarily due to changes to the setup of his front forks. The adjustments meant he could at least grab 13th on the grid.

Yamaha’s Franco Morbidelli was one of the expected challengers to escape Q1, though he got distracted as Marc Marquez doggedly searched for a tow. Trying to shake off the Honda racer, he never got into his flow and could only manage a best effort half a second away from session leader Di Gianantonio.

This left him 15th ahead of the other Honda of Joan Mir, while a crash for Marquez while trying to pass Augusto Fernandez on his quick lap left him a lowly 20th for both races.

RNF Aprilia pair Raul Fernandez and Miguel Oliveira struggled to make headway with their RS-GP’s and could secure only 18th and 19th respectively, while LCR Honda duo Takaaki Nakagami and Iker Lecuona also struggled en route to 21st and 23rd.

They sandwiched Ducati wildcard Alvaro Bautista, who struggled to make much headway with his Desmosedici after a tricky Friday. He managed to narrow the gap to the leading riders, though a mechanical failure late in Q1 meant he couldn’t improve on 22nd.  

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