Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the first day of practice at Sepang:
Niccolo Antonelli has topped Moto3 FP2 at Sepang in an extremely tight session; his time of 2:13.583 was a hundredth of a second quicker than Czech rider Jakub Kornfeil. Conditions were hot and sunny but quite humid as cloud cover had began to blanket the circuit over the course of the afternoon. Alex Marquez posted the third fastest time finishing ahead of his primary Championship rival Jack Miller by six thousandths of a second as two hundredths covered the top four.
Efren Vazquez claimed fifth spot ahead of his countrymen Isaac Vinales and Alex Rins while Danny Kent, Enea Bastianini and John McPhee rounded out the top ten placings. Warning flags were displayed around the circuit at the conclusion of the session as monsoonal rain began to fall, the unpredictably tropical conditions emerging much earlier on in the weekend than previous years at the Malaysian circuit.
2014 Sepang MotoGP Preview: The End Of MotoGP's Asian Peregrinations Beckon In The Sweltering Sepang Heat
Another week, another 8 hour flight, another race track. Sepang comes as the last of three grueling weekends chasing around the Pacific Ocean to race in Japan, Australia, and now Malaysia. Even from the comfort of my European home (I lack the funds and, to a lesser extent, the inclination to pursue the paddock halfway around the world), it has been a tough schedule, and the riders and team members I have spoken to about it are all just about ready to come home. Nearly a month away from home, sharing flights, hire cars and hotel rooms can be grating even for the best of friends. Add in the stresses and tensions of Grand Prix motorcycle racing, and a lot of people are gritting their teeth and doing their best not to punch the people they work with. Some will even make it home without doing so.
The final leg of MotoGP's odyssey sees the circus travel from Phillip Island, nearly halfway to the South Pole, to Sepang, not far north of the equator. Yet though they are a quarter of a world away, the two have one thing in common: weather. The actual conditions may be different, the cold, changeable climate of Phillip Island a far cry from the sweltering heat of Malaysia, but at both tracks, the weather plays a much greater role in the proceedings than at other tracks. Judging conditions, and preparing for them, is crucial.
If anything, putting Sepang at the end of the trio of flyaways is a difficult decision. The heat and intense humidity at the track makes it the most physically demanding of the three races. Severe dehydration lies waiting for the unwary or the out of shape, if they do not drink enough to recover the fluids lost through sweat and exertion. This is a race which richly deserves its reputation as the most punishing of the year.
The FIM has finally released the provisional entry lists for the 2015 season. The Moto3 entry list shows a field of 33 riders, with only a single seat still unnamed, the second bike in the Sepang International Circuit team, which is likely to go to a young Malaysian or Asian rider.
With most of the current top riders leaving, off to Moto2 or, in the case of Jack Miller, to MotoGP, the field looks very open for 2015. Romano Fenati and Enea Bastianini remain in their current teams, Bastianini switching from KTM to Honda. Brad Binder takes the place of Miller at Red Bull KTM Ajo, making him one of the favorites for next year.
Fabio Quartararo is the most highly-anticipated entry into the Moto3 championship, Monlau team manager Emilio Alzamora even managing to persuade the FIM to change the rules to allow the French youngster to take part in the first three races, despite not reaching the minimum age of 16 until 20th April, the day after the Argentina round. He will be joined at the Estrella Galicia 0,0 team, not by Maria Herrera, as was widely expected, but by Jorge Navarro, currently riding for the Marc VDS Racing team in Moto3. There will be one female rider, however, as Ana Carrasco will be riding for the Boe41 RBA team, being entered by Aleix Espargaro. She will be joined there by Niklas Ajo and the young Argentinian Gabri Rodrigo.
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams ahead of this weekend's Malaysian GP at Sepang:
2014 Phillip Island Sunday Round Up: Why The MotoGP Race Was Not A Tire Fiasco, And Rossi Reaps Rewards
Once again, a MotoGP race at Phillip Island is decided by tires. The tires Bridgestone brought to the Australian circuit were not up to the task, with riders crashing out all throughout the race. The front tires Bridgestone brought to the track were unable to cope with the conditions. The result was determined by tires, not by talent.
That, at least, is the narrative being heard around the internet after the bizarre yet fascinating MotoGP race at Phillip Island. It is an attractive narrative – a nice, simple explanation for what happened in Australia – but it is fundamentally flawed. The tire situation was complicated, certainly. Jorge Lorenzo's front tire showed very severe degradation, more than would normally be explained by the expected wear. Several riders crashed out on the asymmetric front tire Bridgestone brought. But to lay the blame entirely on Bridgestone is quite wrong.
The problems at Phillip Island are inherent to the track, and were exacerbated by changes made to suit European TV schedules. Phillip Island, like Assen, is a track which places peculiar demands on tires. It features a lot of very fast left-hand corners, with only a few right handers, two of which are the slowest corners on the track. It is located next to the Bass Strait, a freezing stretch of water connected to the globe-spanning Southern Ocean, which means the weather is highly changeable. Temperatures dropped during the race by as much as 9°C, probably a result of Dorna insisting on running the race at 4pm local time (the late afternoon) to hit a 7am TV slot in their main markets of Spain and Italy. That time will draw a bigger audience than the 5am slot a 2pm race start would fill. But to locals, racing at 4pm at this time of the year is madness.
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 after Sunday's thrilling races at Phillip Island:
Full Recap and Results Below.
2014 Phillip Island Saturday Round Up: The Rufea Team's Front Row Sweep, Winning Attitude, And The Secret Of Riding The Ducati
The three men on pole for Sunday's Australian Grand Prix have a lot in common. One is already champion in MotoGP, another could become champion on Sunday, the other looks to have taken control of the Moto3 title chase in the past few races. The MotoGP and Moto3 pole sitters are brothers, and the man on pole for Moto2 is a good friend of the brothers. Most importantly, perhaps, all three train together.
The "Rufea Team", as they are known to the Spanish media and among themselves, spend long days pushing each other hard at the dirt track oval in Rufea, a small parish outside of Lleida in Spain. Moto2 championship leader Tito Rabat doesn't spend as much time there as the Marquez brothers Marc and Alex, as he is mainly based in Almeria, where he spends his days whittling away the circuit record. But when he does go, the three go all out for glory, even though they are only racing among themselves, and in front of a couple of friends, and maybe the Marquez brothers' father Julià.
Is it coincidence that the trio should find themselves leading their respective championships? Marc Marquez has already proved his talent, by wrapping up four world championships, including three in a row. Tito Rabat has grown enormously as a rider after switching to the Marc VDS Racing team, and stepping out of the shadow of Pol Espargaro at Pons. Alex Marquez already proved himself in the Spanish championship, got up to speed in Moto3 last year, and is proving to be the steadiest of the Moto3 riders.
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after qualifying at Phillip Island:
Full Recap and Results below.