If Saturday at Sepang taught us anything, it is that if the new qualifying system for MotoGP is exciting, the new qualifying system with a little rain mixed in is utterly breathtaking. A brief shower at the end of Q1 left the area through turns 6 and 7 very wet, while the rest of the track was still mostly dry. Add in the searing tropical heat which dries the surface quickly, and the color of the Sepang tarmac which tends to disguise wet patches, and qualifying becomes even more tricky. And then there's the fact that Sepang is a long track, the two minute lap time leaving the riders precious little time to turn laps while waiting for the surface to dry out.
Strategies went out the window, and already stressed mechanics were forced to work themselves into even more of a sweat as they rushed to set up two bikes, one dry and one wet, just in case the rain returned. Some riders went out early and despite being warned, found themselves thrown out of their seats and given a proper scare. With qualifying being just fifteen minutes, the most likely scenario was that the last rider to cross the line would be the fastest, unless it started raining again.
It didn't start raining again, and Marc Marquez was the last of the fast men to cross the line, smashing the pole record by three tenths of a second. The Spaniard's lap was scintillating to watch, pushing his Honda RC213V to its limits while still staying holding some margin of safety through the damp sections around the back of the track, and treating the kerbs with caution. It was Marquez' 8th pole of the year, extending his record of poles in what is a truly remarkable rookie season.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone after qualifying at Sepang:
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after qualifying at Sepang:
Stefan Bradl has been forced to miss the Sepang round of MotoGP, after fracturing his ankle in a crash during FP4. The LCR Honda rider fell at Turn 1, sliding unhurt towards the gravel, but clipped his foot on the carpet on the outside of the kerb which had been picked up by the handlebar of his Honda RC213V. The impact was enough to fracture the right medial malleolus (the spur on the inside of the tibia visible as part of the ankle), ruling him out of action for Sunday's race.
The original plan was for Bradl to be flown back to Barcelona for surgery, but instead, the German elected to have surgery in Kuala Lumpur under the supervision of Dr Busilacchi of the Clinica Mobile. The surgery was deemed a success, with two screws inserted to fix the fractured bone together. Bradl intends to be fit for the penultimate round of MotoGP at Motegi in two weeks' time. He will travel with the team to Phillip Island, where the medical team will assess his fitness, but Bradl is far from certain to be competing there.
Full report and results below:
Full report and results below:
The final free practice session for the MotoGP riders at Sepang has been topped by rookie Repsol Honda rider Marc Marquez. The young Spaniard took advantage of the final chance to fine-tune setup for Sunday's race and reinforced that he was still very much a contender for the race win. He was followed a tenth further back by a noticably more comfortable and happy Jorge Lorenzo, while it was a familiar looking top five riders with Cal Crutchlow, Dani Pedrosa and Valentino Rossi rounding things out.
Alvaro Bautista continued his strong weekend and put his satellite Honda in sixth position ahead of Bradley Smith and Stefan Bradl. Bradl suffered a very nasty crash with five minutes remaining in the session and looked to catch his right leg awkwardly in the artificial turf as he slid along the ground after losing the front at turn one. He was helped away by the track medical staff. The inseparable Ducati pair of Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso completed the top ten.
Full report and results below:
Esteve Rabat has continued his dominant showing at the Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang by topping the third Moto2 Free Practice session by over half a second. The Pons Kalex rider reeled off a large number of successive sub two minute-seven second lap times, something no other rider was able to manage. Thomas Luthi was the closest any of his fellow competitors could get and ended proceedings in second place. The Suisse rider was ahead of Spaniards Pol Espargaro, Julian Simon and Jordi Torres who rounded out the top five.
Championship leader Scott Redding posted the sixth fastest lap time of the session and wouldn't be too unhappy as his effort put him within touching distance of his main title threat Espargaro. Alex DeAngelis, Xavier Simeon, Dominique Aegerter and Takaaki Nakagami completed the top ten placings. The session was impacted by a typically torrential downpour with fifteen minutes remaining and in the final five minutes most riders decided to test the slippery surface in preparation for similar conditions later in the afternoon's qualifying practice.
Dani Pedrosa has topped the third MotoGP free practice session at Sepang, the tricky and frustrating session saw the rider's confidence tested to the limit, as spots of rain fell intermittently throughout. Pedrosa managed to set his best time with his final lap as the rain ceased for the final ten minutes of proceedings. Both Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi appeared to make great strides with the setup of their M1 machines over night, improving on their Friday times and finishing in second and third places respectively, less than a tenth behind form-man Pedrosa.
Stefan Bradl did a commendable job to finish the session in fourth place ahead of Cal Crutchlow and fellow Honda rider Alvaro Bautista. Marc Marquez appeared to struggle with the dicey conditions and had to settle for seventh place. Andrea Dovizioso, Nicky Hayden and Bradley Smith completed the top ten places on the time sheet and would be the last of the riders to automatically qualify for the QP2 session later today.
Championship leader Luis Salom has lead a rampant KTM fight back during Moto3 FP3 in Sepang. Following the strong performance of the Mahindra and Honda riders on Friday, Salom reveled in the morning's cool track conditions, finishing the session almost half a second ahead of Jonas Folger and some six tenths quicker than the fastest ever Moto3 lap set at the Malaysian circuit. Salom's main championship rivals Maverick Vinales and Alex Rins completed an all KTM top four.
Miguel Oliveira lead for large portions of the early Saturday session but ended up in fifth place aboard his Mahindra. He was followed by KTM rider Alex Marquez and the FTR Honda pairing of Niccolo Antonelli and Jack Miller. Brad Binder, getting ever more comfortable with his Mahindra machine and impressive young German rider Philipp Oettl rounded out the top ten. There were several crashes during the incident packed session which saw spills for Florian Alt, Jasper Iwema, Niklas Ajo and John McPhee. All riders walked away uninjured and OK.
2013 Sepang MotoGP Friday Round Up: Pedrosa's Speed, The Brain As A Complex Organ, And Honda Flying In Moto3
Is Sepang a Honda track or a Yamaha track? On the evidence of the first day of practice, you would have to say it is definitely a Honda track. Or more specifically, a factory Honda track, according to Valentino Rossi. The Italian veteran told reporters that the factory Hondas seemed to have something extra at Sepang, even compared to the satellite RC213Vs. Having lighter riders meant they did better on the long straights, consumed less fuel and could therefore use more power, Rossi said, but there was more to it than that. They were also better on corner entry, especially in the tight corners, where HRC appears to have found something extra. The only place the Yamahas had any kind of advantage was in the longer faster corners, Rossi said. Through turns five and six, Rossi could catch Dani Pedrosa. Once they left that section, Pedrosa was gone.
If the bike is good, then Dani Pedrosa is outstanding. His lap in the afternoon was exceptional, the 2'00.554 just a couple of tenths slower than Jorge Lorenzo's pole lap record from last year. Nobody else could get anywhere near him. His only rival was teammate Marc Marquez, forced to give half a second away to Pedrosa. A brace of Yamahas followed, Cal Crutchlow 3rd fastest despite suffering badly with his still damaged right arm swelling in the tropical heat, ending a tenth ahead of Valentino Rossi, the first of the factory Yamaha machines. Both Crutchlow and Rossi were clear where they were losing out: three tenths of a second on each of the two long straights at Sepang, according to the Tech 3 man. Rossi concurred, though he was less inclined to put numbers to his disadvantage. The Yamahas are having to make up through the fast corners what they are losing in the long straights.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone after the first day of practice at the Sepang International Circuit: