Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the first day of practice at Sepang:
Esteve Rabat has continued his devastating early form at Sepang to head Moto2 FP2 by a staggering seven tenths of a second. Thomas Luthi was the closest that any of the seemingly hapless field could get ending up precisely 0.709 behind the inspired Spaniard. Scott Redding showed an improvement on his morning pace to finish in third place and importantly ahead of his fierce title rival Pol Espargaro in fourth. Takaaki Nakagami rounded out the top five placings despite a small crash late in the session.
Last years Malaysian Grand Prix winner Alex DeAngelis put in a solid performance aboard his Speed Up machine, snaring the sixth fastest time of the session. The San-Marinese rider finished ahead of the ever consistent Dominique Aegerter while Aspar rider Nico Terol ended up in eighth place in front of Mika Kallio and Johann Zarco in tenth.
Dani Pedrosa has continued his determined showing in the morning session and finished the second MotoGP practice session at Sepang a mere two tenths of a second off the outright circuit pole record. The diminutive Spaniard was in peerless form as he headed Marc Marquez by over half a second. Cal Crutchlow finished as top Yamaha and in third place ahead of Valentino Rossi and Alvaro Bautista.
In stark contrast to the scintillating pace shown by Pedrosa, the frustration displayed by Jorge Lorenzo in the morning session was compounded in FP2 as he had to settle for sixth place on the time sheet. The World Champion ended proceedings over one second behind Pedrosa's benchmark time, he completed very few laps and like his Yamaha counterparts has a lot of work to do to chase down the Repsol bikes at the front.
Stefan Bradl finished the muggy afternoon session ahead of the factory Ducati pairing of Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso while Bradley Smith rounded out the top ten placings.
The second Moto3 free practice session was run on a damp track for the majority after a torrential down pour during the days lunch break. Australian Jack Miller ended the mixed proceedings at the top of the time sheets after the track had dried out with ten minutes remaining. In the end his impressive lap time was only half a second slower than his morning's effort.
The top ten included five FTR Honda machines and two Mahindra's, the first of which was Efren Vazquez who finished in second position, almost seven tenths behind Miller. He was followed by Alexis Masbou, Jonas Folger and Romano Fenati who rounded out the top five.
Alex Rins sat at the top of the pile for large portions of the treacherous session while it was at it's wettest. In the end he had to settle for sixth position while Isaac Vinales finished in seventh ahead of Niccolo Antonelli, second factory Mahindra rider Miguel Oliveira and championship leader Luis Salom in tenth.
The first Moto2 practice session at Sepang was headed by Tito Rabat, it proved to be a tricky affair, with light sprinkles of rain appearing throughout. The 'in form' rider of the class has scored more points than any other over the last five races and was not deterred by the conditions as he topped the timesheets by almost half a second. Fellow Pons Kalex rider Pol Espargaro ended in second place ahead of Thomas Luthi, Takaaki Nakagami and Mika Kallio.
After his commanding win at the last race in Aragon Nico Terol had to settle for sixth place followed by Alex De Angelis, Julian Simon, Simone Corsi and Johann Zarco. The Frenchman succumbed to the tricky weather late in proceedings and suffered a minor crash, he walked away unharmed. There was also a spill for Indonesian rider Rafid Topan Sucipto who was also uninjured.
Dani Pedrosa has responded to the controversy that emerged out of the last round in Aragon in perfect fashion by leading MotoGP FP1 in Sepang. The Spaniard's time of 2:01.229 put him a decisive three tenths of a second clear of his partner in contention and team mate Marc Marquez. Jorge Lorenzo cut a frustrated figure during the session, despite finishing in third place and only three hundredths behind Marquez, the World Champion looked unhappy with the setup of his Yamaha and remonstrated regularly with his mechanics.
Alvaro Bautista set the fourth fastest lap time ahead of another frustrated Yamaha rider in Valentino Rossi. Cal Crutchlow ended in sixth, three tenths behind Rossi and underlined the struggles that the Yamaha riders appeared to be having during the weekend's first session. Stefan Bradl, Nicky Hayden, Bradley Smith and Andrea Dovizioso completed the top ten placings.
Maverick Vinales has topped the time sheets at the conclusion of the first Moto3 free practice session in Sepang. The Spaniard is the only rider competing in the class to have taken victory at the Malaysian circuit previously and showed his affinity with a scorching benchmark time of 2:14.961. He was followed closely by the impressive FTR Honda pair of Alexis Masbou and Jack Miller who both enjoyed spells at the head of the field throughout the session.
Winner of the previous two Grand Prix Alex Rins finished in fourth ahead of Efren Vazquez and championship leader Luis Salom while Isaac Vinales, Brad Binder, Miguel Oliveira and Phillip Oettl rounded out the top ten. Alex Marquez was the first crasher of the weekend and the only rider to come to grief in the session, losing the front at the very quick turn ten. He was unhurt but unable to complete any further laps following the spill due to bike damage, a less than ideal start to proceedings for the young contender.
2013 Sepang MotoGP Thursday Round Up: Of Penalty Points, Modern-Day Gladiators, Racing As Entertainment, And Ducati
Just a few hours before the bikes hit the track, all the talk should be about the prospects for the riders in the coming weekend. At Sepang, though, it was all different. Nobody was talking about who might end where, whether the Sepang is a Honda or a Yamaha track, whether Ducati will benefit from Sepang's long straights or suffer around the fast corners, about whether Scott Redding or Pol Espargaro will have the upper hand in Moto2. It was not the prospect of on-track action, but off-track drama which captured the attention.
For Thursday was D-Day (or more accurately, perhaps, RD day) for Marc Marquez at Sepang. The championship leader faced a further hearing in front of Race Direction over the incident at Aragon, where he clipped the back wheel of Dani Pedrosa, severed a rear wheel sensor, which caused Pedrosa to highside as soon as he touched the gas. Marquez was given one penalty point for the incident, and Honda stripped of Marquez' result for the constructors' championship (see full details here).
Press release previews of the upcoming Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang from the MotoGP teams and single tire supplier Bridgestone:
Previews of this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams:
The FIM have today released the provisional version of the MotoGP calendar for 2014. As expected, there are few surprises: with the addition of Argentina and Brazil, there will be nineteen races on the calendar, though Brazil is not expected to be ready to host a race next year, the event likely to be postponed until 2015. Laguna Seca is gone from the calendar, leaving just two US races on for 2014. And once again, there are four Spanish rounds on for next season, although Jerez is marked subject to contract.
The season opens with the night race in Qatar on March 23rd, though this decision is likely to face criticism from the riders. Moving the race two weeks earlier increases the risk of the evening dew which settles on the surface hitting earlier, while the bikes are still out on track. That was the case in previous years, when the race was held earlier, with some major crashes as a result. The dew settles quickly and is impossible to see under the lights, but renders the asphalt extremely slippery within a very short period.
How quickly things change. Yesterday, it looked like Jorge Lorenzo had handed the 2013 MotoGP championship to Dani Pedrosa on a plate, by crashing unnecessarily at Turn 10, and bending the titanium plate he had fitted to his collarbone after breaking it at Assen. Today, Pedrosa did his best to level the playing field again, by pushing a little too hard on a cold tire at Turn 1, and being catapulted out of the saddle in a cold tire, closed throttle highside. He flew a long way, and hit the ground hard, coming up rubbing his collarbone much as Jorge Lorenzo had done. He was forced to miss qualifying, and for most of the afternoon, it looked like he too could be forced to miss the Sachsenring race, and possibly also Laguna Seca.
At the end of the afternoon, the medical intervention team - a group of experienced Spanish emergency doctors who spend their free weekends hooning around race tracks in hotrodded BMW M550d medical cars - gave a press conference to explain Pedrosa's medical situation, and what had happened that afternoon. Dr Charte and Dr Caceres told the media that Pedrosa had had a huge crash, walked away feeling dizzy, and been rushed to the medical center. There, he had one X-ray on his collarbone, but just as he was about to have a second X-ray, his blood pressure dropped dramatically. The second X-ray was immediately aborted as the medical staff intervened to stabilize Pedrosa.
The Repsol Media Service, ever eager for publicity, issued the following video after the second MotoGP test at Sepang. In it, we ride with Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez around the Sepang track, viewed from a number of different perspectives. Observant viewers will note that the dashboard has been carefully blacked out, and music has been added to disguise the engine note, with some ingenious souls having used previous videos to measure engine revs and guess at firing orders. The press release and video are show below:
The best footage of the Repsol riders in Sepang testing
After two testing visits to Malaysia, Dani Pedrosa and Marc Márquez leave Sepang with their homework completed and with a positive outlook.
With the second preseason test of 2013 completed and riders and with the roar of the MotoGP bikes still ringing in the ears, we look back at the best footage of the Repsol riders at the test in the following video.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone after the final day of testing at Sepang:
Dani Pedrosa was once again fastest on the final day of testing at Sepang, topping the timesheets for the fifth time in six total days of testing at Sepang. Though the Repsol Honda man looks to be the preseason favorite so far, he does not leave the test as fastest overall, however. That honor goes to Jorge Lorenzo, who put in a scorching lap on Wednesday to set the fastest time over all three days of the test.
The riders got off to a late start on Thursday, rain meaning that the bulk of the riders kept to their garages until the track started to dry out at the end of the morning. A few men put in laps in the wet, but once the track dried out, enough riders started putting in laps to clean the worst of the dirt left by the rain from the track, though track conditions were never as good as on the first couple of days. Pedrosa soon took charge of proceedings, later knocking another half a second off his time late in the afternoon. Rookie Repsol teammate Marc Marquez impressed yet again, taking 2nd on the timesheets with his very last lap, after the final 30 minutes of the session turned into a qualifying session. Marquez continued to concentrate on learning the ropes on a MotoGP machine, and the longer runs he put in were a little further off the pace of Pedrosa, and still not as consistent as they will need to be, but he proved with his flying lap that he will be starting from the front of the grid by the time the season starts.
Jorge Lorenzo ended the final day of the test with the 3rd fastest time, but leaves Sepang as fastest overall. Lorenzo's best time was over four tenths slower than Pedrosa's on Thursday, but the Spaniard spent the latter part of the day working on race set up, ending the test with a mightily impressive race simulation of 20 laps, 16 of which where in the 2:01s, most of them fast 2:01s. Lorenzo's race simulation follows the pattern from his championship-winning season in 2012, making a very long race simulation to test the bike and himself in punishing conditions. Less characteristic was a mistake the Spaniard made, putting in one lap of 2:05 towards the end, an anomaly among the scorching laps that surround it.