UPDATE: Marc Marquez has lost pole position after being hit with a six-place grid penalty following an FIM Stewards investigation. He will now start from seventh place on row three. The ruling was made after an incident at Turn 9 with Suzuki's Andrea Iannone.

Sepang pole-sitter Marc Marquez said he was able to capitalise on his ability to adapt quickly as the Repsol Honda rider topped qualifying in the wet in Malaysia.

The MotoGP world champion secured his 80th career pole start with a lap in 2m 12.161s, which put him half-a-second ahead of Johann Zarco on the Tech 3 Yamaha.

Marquez, who clinched the top spot despite losing the front at Turn 4 and switching to his second bike, said: “Today I took profit of one of my strongest points, to adapt really quick to the conditions, and it was crucial – the last minutes in FP4 in rain conditions – because we already understand something on the set-up. Then for the qualifying, we changed already, we adapted and I felt immediately better than FP4.

“Then I was trying to keep pushing but unfortunately I lost the front at Turn 4, but the good thing is that I take the second bike, I go out and did a good lap time, so happy, but it looks like tomorrow we will have a dry race.

“In there (dry), we are also in a good pace because we did a big change from yesterday and we improve a lot, and now the pace is much better and is very equal to (Andrea) Dovizioso and (Maverick) Vinales, but I think also (Johann) Zarco and Valentino (Rossi) are very strong also.”

Marquez said his performance over the weekend at Sepang demonstrated the improvements he has made with his team this season.

“The most important is that we confirm what we did the whole year. In a circuit like Sepang, which is not one of the best ones for my riding style, for me I struggle every year, we are there and we are ready to fight for the podium,” he said.

“This is the most important – in the circuits where you feel good, try to push, try to win the race, but in the circuits where you struggle, this year I was able to be on the podium. This is the target for tomorrow but also we check the pace on dry, we cannot be out of the victory and we are not far from the race pace of the best guys, so we will try to do our 100 per-cent and finish the year in a good way. If it is wet, you never know, you need to be safe but in the same way, fast.”

The five-time MotoGP champion said he altered his riding style from FP1 at Sepang after realising he needed to completely alter his approach to give himself a chance of challenging for the podium in Sunday’s race, which is the penultimate round of the 2018 championship.

“On Friday, we were so far, so I already understand that if I want to be there, it is not only the bike, I also need to change my riding style. We tried to analyse with the team and we did a few changes on the bike,” he said.

“I went out this morning and I already changed my riding style, already changed the set-up, and I feel straight away much better. Then I tried to keep that style, that set-up, and we improved a few things, but we were able to be much more consistent.”

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