At the beginning of the year, much was made of the addition of rules governing rider behavior to the Sporting Regulations section of the FIM MotoGP rulebook. That gave the newly instituted panel of FIM Stewards, who oversee all disciplinary measures, the power to punish riders and teams for a range of activities related to the promotion of the series. The biggest worry was caused by section 22.214.171.124, which threatened punishment of riders who made public pronouncements considered harmful to the championship.
Marc Marquez put in a fast final lap to crowd out Cal Crutchlow from the top spot in a wet FP4 at the Sepang Circuit Saturday. Cal Crutchlow, who led much of the session on the damp-but-grippy track, finished second, seven-hundredths back. Maverick Vinales took third as riders worked on wet race settings for the Sunday race.
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."