Espargaro To Replace Canepa At Sepang

Niccolo Canepa's weekend at Phillip Island got off to a bad start. The Pramac Ducati rider crashed during the first session of free practice on Friday, going down at the - literally - scorching Doohan corner at around 200 km/h. The Italian slid a long way on the tarmac, burning a hole through his leathers and removing a big chunk of skin from his right arm and elbow. His injuries were sufficiently serious to require a skin transplant at a Melbourne hospital, and his participation at this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang was put in doubt.

On Monday, Canepa received the final word. The Italian was advised by doctors in Australia not to race at Sepang, as the injury was not healed sufficiently to attempt to compete. Canepa's place will be taken by Aleix Espargaro once again. The Spaniard, who will be joining the Pramac Ducati team next season, was put on standby last weekend, as soon as the extent of Canepa's injuries became clear. The itinerant Espargaro, who has spent the season racing Moto2 in the Spanish championship, as well as substitute rides on the Balatonring Aprilia RSA 250 and the Pramac Ducati, impressed Pramac bosses and MotoGP fans alike with his strong showing at Indianapolis and Misano.  Espargaro needs 1 point to draw level with Yuki Takahashi, who left the series at Laguna Seca, and 4 points to catch Sete Gibernau, whose team withdrew Assen.

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5th fastest race time in his second outing only with the GP9 should raise anyone's eyebrows in expectation !

Espargaro didn't actually set the 5th fastest lap of the race. He set the 5th fastest personal best lap of the race. In fact, Espargaro fastest lap was the 66th fastest lap of the race. It was also 6 tenths faster than any other time he set and nearly a second faster than his average.

It might be kind of cool to see some other riders coming in and trying out on the Ducati but I am not sure these are the most qualified.

I'm not sure to follow you there as, according to MotoGP.com, he's been clocked 5th fastest on a lap during the MotoGP race:

46 Valentino ROSSI ITA 1 1'34.746
99 Jorge LORENZO SPA 2 1'34.823
3 Dani PEDROSA SPA 3 1'35.115
4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA 4 1'35.435
44 Aleix ESPARGARO SPA 5 1'35.673

The Fastest Lap Rider statistic published by the official MotoGP.com website only gives the best lap of each rider. Rats is correct in saying that other riders posted a lot more laps which were faster. Rossi posted 24 laps which were faster than Espargaro's best lap. However, only 4 other riders posted faster laps than Espargaro's.

In other words, 4 other riders were faster than Espargaro, but those 4 other riders posted multiple laps which were faster than the Spaniard.

You can check for yourself with these two PDF files: The fastest lap rider table, which shows the best lap of each rider; and the Analysis table, which shows the lap times for every lap that each rider posted during the race.

Those lap times are derived by taking all of the lap times for each rider, picking out the best time for each rider and them sorting them by just that single lap. So, only four riders had a fastest lap that was faster than that one lap. However, those four riders set a faster time nearly every lap.

More important though is that Espargaro set that time on just one lap - One lap where he was well over half a second faster than any other lap he ran. Even more telling is that he picked over half a second in a single section. That of course, leads to speculation that he cut the chicane since he was never able to repeat anywhere near that time through that section again.

Basically, it was a fluke - a one off event that is as best, something that Espargaro could not repeat and at worst, the result of cutting the track. Either way, it doesn't really seem to qualify a rider to be in MotoGP.

The discussion about Espargaro's lap time is based on the race at Misano. The chicane Rats is talking about is the first corner (or rather, the first and second corner), where if you mess it up you can run straight on and get back on the track. 

surely Ducati should look further into the 250 riders and look to the future. i agree with the point that espagaro did not set the fifth fastest time not because of skill but because of luck as he was not consistent with his pace at indianapolis. he is clearly talented but it has been a couple of years since pramac had a rider that had the potential to move up to the factory team and does anyone really see him there in a couple of years time???