Takaaki Nakagami didn’t let rain delays bother him Saturday at the Sepang Circuit in Malaysia. The Japanese rider grabbed the top spot, just beating out Franco Morbidelli, the fastest rider in the previous practice. Jonas Folger completed the top three.
The sun came out and dried the Sepang circuit out on Saturday morning, providing a thrilling FP3 session as the MotoGP riders battled for a spot in Q2. Practice started with damp patches on the track, but the burning tropical sun soon scorched the remaining water away.
The Sepang circuit started the day much as it did on Friday: mainly dry, with prominent damp patches around the circuit. The track improved as the session went on, times dropping closer and closer to the lap record. The top spot changed hands several times throughout the session, until reigning champion Brad Binder asserted his authority over the class, just pipping Jakub Kornfeil to the fastest time by six thousandths of a second.
The weather has not been kind to MotoGP in 2016. At the nine events since Barcelona, it has rained at some point or another at five of them. At two more, Austria and Motegi, it was the cold rather than the rain which was a factor. Even Sepang, where in most years, it only rains once the riders have finished practice, has seen the rain ruin riders' plans.
Heavy rains overnight left the track covered in damp patches, despite the resurfacing of the circuit which was done to address the issue of standing water in some corners. More rain at lunchtime meant the afternoon sessions were done on a wet track that dried slowly, despite the tropical sun beating down.
The track should have been dry in the morning, after the sun had had four hours to burn off the water. But patches remained at various points around the track, most away from the racing line, but there were some spots where the water remained on the racing line.
"The dampest part of the track is turn three –that’s the slippiest," Scott Redding said. "Turn three still had a lot of patches. Turn four had some too, especially on that acceleration point. There were a few into turn 14. The angle that you have most, where Zarco went down, it was just everywhere around there. You had to work out a line, the way through there, without hitting any puddles."
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after practice on Friday:
Marquez sits out FP2 due to gastroenteritis after setting the quickest time in the morning
Gastroenteritis caused Marc Marquez to miss the FP2 session of the Malaysian Grand Prix today, as the 2016 World Champion returned to his hotel to rest and try to completely recover ahead of tomorrow’s qualifying day.
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after practice on Friday:
Binder fastest in the dry in Malaysia
Moto3 World Champion sets best time of the day in only dry session on Friday. Bo Bendsneyder debuts at Sepang with fifteenth fastest lap.
10/28/2016 - Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia
Franco Morbidelli topped the timesheets in the second session of free practice for the Moto2 class at Sepang. The Marc VDS rider took advantage of ever improving track conditions to set the fastest time in his final run, knocking teammate Alex Marquez off top spot. Marquez was knocked further down into third place, when Taka Nakagami put in a quick lap in the end to finish second.
Jack Miller topped the timesheets of the afternoon session of MotoGP practice at Sepang, though the constantly changing track conditions rendered the times meaningless. That does not mean that it was a wasted session, however. Starting on a wet track which dried as the session went on, riders got a feel for the changing conditions which look set to be a factor in the race.
On a fully wet track, it was Pecco Bagnaia who ended the second session of Moto3 practice. The Italian had been quickest all session, putting in a very fast lap as FP2 ended. That knocked Jorge Navarro into second, the Spaniard crashing on his final run.
Local hero Khairul Idham Pawi excelled again in the afternoon, relishing the riding in the wet to take third place. Pawi had also been quick in the dry morning session, beaten only by Brad Binder in FP1. Nicolo Bulega took fourth, ahead of Tatsuki Suzuki on the CIP Mahindra.
The rain the series had been waiting for came during the Moto2 session. The session was interrupted by a red flag, after a series of crashes at Turn 14. Sam Lowes was one of the fallers, and then collided with Johann Zarco as he rejoined the track. Rain started fallling when the session restarted, leaving Tom Luthi as fastest, ahead of Marcel Schrotter and Alex Marquez.