Marquez docked 6 positions to give inferior opponents a chance

Despite falling Marquez still took pole only to have it taken away
Despite falling Marquez still took pole only to have it taken away

Malaysian MotoGP poleman Marc Marquez has been handed a six-place grid penalty for blocking Andrea Iannone in the latter stages of qualifying at Sepang.

Suzuki's Iannone was on his penultimate hot lap in the latter stages of a damp Q2 when he came across Marquez, who had crashed at Turn 4 just moments earlier, on an out-lap.

Iannone was unable to clear Marquez braking down into Turn 9, with the Suzuki rider visibly frustrated as he passed around the outside of Turn 10.

Marquez took his seventh pole of the season with a 2:12.161s, while Iannone was left just a few hundredths off the front row in fourth.

The incident was put under investigation, and Race Direction have ruled that Marquez was riding in an irresponsible manner, slapping him with a six-place grid drop for Sunday's 20-lap Malaysian Grand Prix.

The world champion will drop to seventh as a result, with Tech3's Johann Zarco inheriting pole – the third time he will have led the field away at the start this season.

Yamaha's Valentino Rossi now moves up to second, with Iannone onto the end of the front row ahead of Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso and the Pramac duo of Jack Miller and Danilo Petrucci.

A statement from the Stewards read: “On 3 November 2018 at 1708 during MotoGP Q2 of the Shell Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Turn 9 you were found to be riding in an irresponsible manner, being slow on the racing line and disturbing another ride.

“For the reasons stated above, being the second offence and taking into account the degree of seriousness of the offence, the MotoGP Stewards Panel has imposed on you a grid penalty of six positions."

Marquez lost pole at the Circuit of the Americas at the start of the season for a similar offence, the Stewards then handing him a three-place drop for blocking Yamaha's Maverick Vinales in Q2.

As the penalty was applied after qualifying, Marquez's pole remains in the record books, with his fastest lap at Sepang netting him his 80th career qualifying success.

Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix will start two hours earlier than originally scheduled in a bid to avoid potential monsoon conditions like those which delayed qualifying by 80 minutes.

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