The riders may have been complaining that the new surface of the Sepang circuit takes too long to dry out, but about one thing, they are all agreed. It has fantastic grip. "We have this problem of the track drying up, it's very difficult," Jorge Lorenzo told the press conference, agreeing with his teammate. "But the grip is perfect, it's amazing the grip."
That was obvious in the afternoon, when the MotoGP riders took to a track still soaking after the tropical downpour which had caused the preceding Moto3 qualifying session to be red flagged. The lean angle the riders were still getting despite standing water was remarkable. That was even true after the Moto3 downpour had ended, and the track was awash. The top Moto3 riders were still improving their times on a track which was wetter than at the start of the session.
The same grip had helped in the morning, when there were still a few wet patches on the track. As the sun started to burn the water off, Maverick Viñales dipped under the two minute mark, posting two laps of 1'59.9. That was on a track which was still not completely dry, the riders able to power through almost as if it had never rained.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after a wet qualifying at Sepang:
Andrea Dovizioso powers to a superb pole position for the Shell Malaysia Grand Prix at Sepang. Andrea Iannone qualifies sixth and starts the race from row 2
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after qualifying at Sepang:
Binder takes pole in the rain
Red Bull KTM Ajo rider snatches sixth pole position of the year at wet Sepang International Circuit. Bo Bendsneyder heads the third row for Malaysian GP.
10/29/2016 - Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia
World Superbike standings after the first race at Qatar:
Jonathan Rea led the championship by 48 points from Tom Sykes with only fifty points up for grabs today and tomorrow. The penultimate race of the year was held at night, just before Europe changed its clocks for winter.
With the European Supersport riders not competing, Superpole one looked empty with only fourteen riders taking part in the opening nighttime session. Niki Tuuli didn't make it to Qatar, in spite of three podiums in his only three races.
The last qualifying of the year took place after the sun set over Qatar, with fifteen bikes and riders taking part in the first Superpole session, with Leon Haslam and Michael van der Mark the fastest men not to automatically qualify for the second session.
Kenan Sofuoglu heads to qualifying as the fastest rider in the untimed session, almost half a second quicker than Ayrton Badovini.
Chaz Davies, Jonathan Rea, Xavi Fores and Sylvain Guintoli complete the untimed session in the same order as they finished qulalifying yesterday. Tom Sykes
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 18.104.22.168, which threatened punishment of riders who made public pronouncements considered harmful to the championship.