Moto3: Manuel Pagliani heads Mahindra pack in tough Sepang qualifying
From the last few grand prixs, the CIP riders have been on pace for Mahindra. It was once again the two Italian riders in the practice sessions at the Sepang International Circuit.
After a good Friday, the Indian manufacturer's riders struggled in a warm qualifying with CIP's Pagliani finishing as the best Mahindra rider in 20th.
Puegeot's Jakub Kornfeil was two places behind in 22nd, leading Aspar's Lorenzo dalla Porta - the Czech rider feeling good as he managed to improve on his lap times on every lap.
"I am quite satisfied. Again 22nd starting position is not so good, but I am happy with my lap time and my performance. I could improve in every outing and this was the target in the end. The only problematic thing is that I feel like we reached our limit here," he said.
"The bike has so much movement in every corner and I don´t think we can go much faster now. But this also means that we gave our maximum so this is positive. Tomorrow for sure will be tough because on the straights we are losing a lot of time compared to the KTMs and Hondas.”
Meanwhile, dalla Porta lamented the strange session as he couldn't perfect a slipstream, which is why he switched focus to setting a lap on his own but was unable to do so. "It was a strange qualifying session," he said.
"It was difficult to find a good slipstream on this track so I focused on setting a strong lap, but we missed out on a new tyre at the end. It is a shame because we are starting from a long way back but I think we have the pace to recover tomorrow and that's the most important thing.”
The lone podium finisher for Mahindra, CIP's Marco Bezzecchi had a difficult outing to be 26th, with Peugeot's Patrik Pulkkinen finishing 30th, ahead of Aspar's Maria Herrera - the female rider unable to improve on her fast lap due to corner cutting.
"There were still some puddles and damp patches on the track this morning after the rain and we couldn't improve on the lap times from yesterday. In qualifying I got straight down to a 2'16 but then struggled to improve on that until my final lap, when I was almost a second quicker.
"But when I came onto the back straight the bike cut out. I need to improve certain lines and brake a little harder because in some corners I am letting it run through the early part of the corner and then I can't get on the gas," she said.
Pole went to Leopard Racing and 2017 champion Joan Mir, while Gresini's Jorge Martin was second and British Talent Team's John McPhee was third.