Press releases from the teams and series organizers after qualifying at Sepang:
Aprilia today issued the following press release, confirming that Stefan Bradl will race for the Gresini Aprilia team for the rest of the 2015 season, replacing Marco Melandri.
STEFAN BRADL TO RIDE AN APRILIA RS-GP ALONGSIDE ALVARO BAUTISTA
Noale, 1 August 2015 - Twenty-five year old German rider Stefan Bradl, 2011 Moto2 World Champion, will take part in the remaining nine 2015 MotoGP World Championship races astride the second Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia RS-GP alongside Alvaro Bautista.
Bradl will make his first appearance on the Aprilia RS-GP at the Indianapolis Grand Prix scheduled from 7 to 9 August.
World Supersport Qualifying brought a few surprises inclusing an interesting tactical play borrowed from Marc Marquez.
Superpole at the longest track of the year, with laps of over two minutes round the 5.543KM circuit, would not allow riders and teams as much time to relax. With no time to waste, and a lap too long for two good laps on the qualifying tyre, riders would get two laps on a race tyre and maybe only one on the qualifier. Ayrton Badovini missed the session after he got a concussion when he crashed with Matteo Baiocco in FP3. He will likely declared unfit for the races tomorrow.
Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea were quickest in the untimed session ahead of Michael van der Mark and Jordi Torres. The Kawasakis set their fastest times of the weekend, showing they aim to challenge the Aprilias in qualifying.
Jules Cluzel, when faced with a complete dry session and a working bike, was quickest ahead of PJ Jacobsen and Kenan Sofuoglu finally beating Lorenzo Zanetti's Friday morning time.
Jordi Torres was quickest in the morning's session, ahead of Leon Haslam. Randy de Puniet was half a second off, third quickest in the session and qualifying fourth behind Max Biaggi, in his best provisional position of the year. Aprilia took the provisional front row ahead of De Puniet and Sylvain Guintoli.
Press releases after the first day of practice at Sepang:
Stefan Bradl's period of enforced unemployment will be mercifully brief. Today, the Forward Racing team announced they had released him from his contract at his request, as the problems facing the team continue. Free from his contract, Bradl looks set to sign for the Gresini Aprilia squad for the rest of the season, replacing Marco Melandri.
Bradl has been caught up in a whirlwind of events since breaking his scaphoid at Assen. Two weeks later, at the Sachsenring, the German was in talks with the Forward Racing team to extend his contract to race the Open class Yamaha for the 2016 season. The day after the race in Germany, team owner Giovanni Cuzari was arrested on his return home to Ticino, Switzerland, on charges of corruption, money laundering and tax evasion. Because of the charges, the Swiss authorities seized the team's computers and financial administration, and froze their bank accounts. The arrest also prompted a number of sponsors to end their contracts, further endangering the future of the team. The team announced that they would not be competing at Indianapolis, and that they could also end up missing Brno.
With the rain stopped at the end of the Supersport session, most riders waited for the track to dry, and only went out in the last third of the session. Chaz Davies was quickest on the drying tarmac, beating out Alex Lowes for the quickest lap, but was still seven seconds off the morning's pace.
Rain at Sepang meant that nobody was able to go as quickly as this morning, leaving Lorenzo Zanetti with the quickest overall time, but PJ Jacobsen was quickest in the wet, over a second and a half ahead of Kenan Sofuoglu and Kyle Smith.
Returning former champion Max Biaggi, having tested in Sepang recently, went quickest in the morning session, taking the top spot early and never relinquishing it once he had it. Chaz Davies got within two tenths while the Kawasakis of Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes were over half a second off Biaggi's pace.
Lorenzo Zanetti leads MV Agusta teammate Jules Cluzel, taking the top spot in the last minute of the session, ahead of PJ Jacobsen and Kyle Smith with championship leader Kenan Sofuoglu over a second back in fifth.
Previews of this weekend's upcoming World Superbike round at Sepang from the series organizers and the teams:
This is the second part of our silly season overview. Before starting on this part, make sure you have read the first part of the review, published yesterday.
If Jack Miller is parachuted into Aspar, the second seat in the team is up for grabs. Though Dorna are keen to have an American in MotoGP, it is widely believed that Nicky Hayden's days are numbered. Despite his denials, there are question marks over Hayden's wrist, and he has not been as competitive on the Open Honda as he had hoped. Hayden was at the last round of World Superbikes at Laguna Seca a couple of weeks ago, where he was seen talking to a lot of teams. There is a lot of speculation Hayden could end up on an Aprilia in World Superbikes next season, the American already having visited the factory's Noale HQ in 2013, before he left Ducati to sign for Aspar.
Could Hayden take the second Aprilia seat in MotoGP? This seems extremely unlikely. The factory already has an experienced development rider in Alvaro Bautista, and is really looking for someone faster and younger to lead the challenge. One name being bandied about is Stefan Bradl, the German being a particularly attractive prospect for the Italian factory. With Melandri having abandoned the Gresini Aprilia team, the second seat in the team is being filled by Michael Laverty. A sensible choice under the circumstances: Laverty is already Aprilia's official test rider, and the RS-GP is still very much a test bed for collecting data, to be used to build the 2016 bike, which will be a full prototype built from scratch. The downside to having Laverty is that he is also racing in BSB for the Tyco BMW team. The two calendars clash only once, when MotoGP goes to Phillip Island, and BSB is at Brands Hatch, so Laverty is able to fill in on a race-by-race basis.
However, with Bradl having announced that he has rescinded his contract with Forward Racing, due to the fact that they cannot guarantee him a ride for the rest of the season, Bradl becomes a more appealing option for Aprilia. The German could start racing almost immediately – a start at Indianapolis is probably too early, with the Brno test a more likely date – and could fill in until the end of the season. Bradl is still relatively young – he will be 26 in November – a former Moto2 world champion, and highly motivated. Signing Bradl to what is effectively an 18-month contract could be a smart move for Aprilia, as they would get someone young, fast, and able to help develop their new 2016 bike. If Bradl is fast in 2016, Aprilia could keep him for the future, if he isn't, he can keep working on improving the bike for 2017, and his successor.