Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Marquez were fastest of the lot in FP3. There was a little bit of mind games on track between Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez, with Rossi going slowly trying not to let Marquez follow him, Marquez happy to sit on his tail.
Maverick Viñales will go to Q1, as though he set the 10th fastest time in FP3, Andrea Iannone had a faster time in FP2, so on combined times, Iannone is 8th overall, and Viñales 11th overall.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone after the first day of practice at Sepang:
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 riders after the first day of practice at Sepang:
Jorge Lorenzo has topped the second sesson of free practice for the MotoGP class at Sepang. The Movistar Yamaha rider spent most of the session working on set up on used tires, before pushing at the end on fresh tires to take over at the top. Dani Pedrosa ended the session in 2nd, the Repsol Honda rider not quite able to match the pace of Lorenzo in the second half of the track.
Marc Marquez had led early, but could not quite find the pace of Lorenzo and Pedrosa, finishing the session in 3rd place, two tenths of a second behind Lorenzo. Andrea Iannone took 4th, the Ducati rider laying down a very consistent pace before shooting for a spot in Q2 on a fresh set of tires. Cal Crutchlow ended the session in 5th spot, nearly eight tenths slower than the fastest man Lorenzo, the LCR Honda rider pushing for a fast time at the end of the session.
Aleix Espargaro was the first of the Suzukis, though both Espargaro and Maverick Viñales showed solid pace on the GSX-RR. Espargaro was the only Suzuki man to make it to Q2 though upping the pace at the end of the session to take 6th, while Viñales dropped down to 11th, just outside the top 10. If it rains as expected on Saturday, improving times may be difficult for riders who missed out on Q2.
The pre-event press conferences held on the Thursday ahead of each MotoGP round can vary a good deal in interest. For the most part, they are full of pleasantries and platitudes, both riders and journalists doing their best to look interested and not start playing with their phones. After the utterly entrancing race at Phillip Island four days ago, we expected this to be one of the less interesting ones, the only mild interest being the dismal air quality in Malaysia.
How very wrong we were. Yes, there was the discussion of the obvious, of how the championship chances of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, and of Danny Kent in Moto3 would play out. But there was also an explosion of interest once Rossi made accusations that Marc Márquez was trying to help Lorenzo win the championship, accusations he pressed home further once the press conference finished.
It first livened up once Andrea Iannone and Valentino Rossi were asked what they thought of the abuse which had been plastered all over the Facebook and Instagram feeds of Iannone after the race at Phillip Island, where Iannone finished ahead of Rossi and took valuable points in the championship. Iannone shook it off, saying that 90% were positive, and the rest were "just an opinion."
Rossi was much stronger in his condemnation of the behavior of people calling themselves his fans. "I think that in reality they are not my real supporters," he said. "Is a great shame, because these people are very stupid. Unfortunately, this is the time of the social network where everybody can say his idea, even if it's a very stupid idea. The people like to speak bad about other guys that are more lucky than them, with more talent, and more happy, because they do with their life what they want." Rossi pointed out that he held no grudge against Iannone for beating him. "He just did his race, and is normal that he try to beat me."
Tito Rabat is to fly home for further treatment on the arm he broke in a training accident a week before Motegi. Rabat was forced to skip the Japanese round of Moto2 due to a lack of strength in the arm, still weak from surgery to insert a plate over the fractured bone.
Rabat was strong enough to start practice for the Australian round, the Marc VDS Racing rider suffered a big crash in the final corner at Phillip Island during FP2. Though initial examination showed he had suffered no further injury, a further examination revealed the possibility of a displaced bone fragment. With the title already settled in Johann Zarco's favor, Rabat decided to fly home for treatment to prepare himself for the final round of Moto2 at Valencia. This means he will miss both this weekend's race at Phillip Island, and the race next weekend at Sepang.
Though Rabat will want to be strong at his final race in Moto2, the other, more obvious reason for Rabat to concentrate on recovery is the fact that he is to switch to the MotoGP class for 2016 with the Marc VDS squad. The Valencia test - which starts on Tuesday rather than Monday, because of the many technical changes for 2016 - is the first chance Rabat will get to ride the Honda RC213V in 2016 spec, complete with spec software and Michelin tires. With the title gone, Rabat is now focusing on 2016.
MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
Rossi needs 'stuff' to happen
Cue the Jaws theme tune, because Jorge Lorenzo is coming to get Valentino Rossi. The Spaniard took a nine-point chunk out of Rossi’s championship lead at Aragon, at which rate he will lead the championship at Phillip Island, with all to play for in the final two races at Sepang and Valencia.
Rossi always knew this moment was coming; indeed he’s been there before. Way back in June 2009 he likened Lorenzo and Casey Stoner to sharks, circling around him in the water, ready for the kill.
“They look at me with some blood flowing and they think, ‘Okay, now is the time’,” he said. “If I am not strong, they will eat me in one bite.”
Six and a bit seasons later he is in exactly the same position. So what will it take to repulse Lorenzo’s latest attack?
Things appear to be looking up for Forward Racing. After a very dark period when the future of the team was in danger, following the arrest of team owner Giovanni Cuzari, the team is moving on to a slightly more stable footing. Earlier this week, they announced that former Moto2 champion Toni Elias is to ride for the team for the last five races of the 2015 season. Elias will be replacing Claudio Corti, who has stood in for Stefan Bradl after the German departed for Aprilia.
Though the press release makes no mention of it, it seems likely that the signing of Elias will help strengthen the financial basis of the team. Speaking to MotoMatters.com and MCN at Misano, team boss Cuzari said that "95%" of the team's sponsors had returned after he had explained that the corruption charges against him were to be dropped. Cuzari also expressed optimism at being back in MotoGP for 2016. Though the team is too late to secure the use of Yamahas for next season, Cuzari was confident of obtaining alternative equipment, mentioning talks with both Ducati and Aprilia for the supply of bikes. All that depends on the view of Dorna, however. The fate of the team lies in the hands of senior Dorna management, who must make a decision on whether to allow Forward Racing to race in MotoGP again in 2016. A decision is expected before Aragon.