Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams ahead of this weekend's race at Sepang:
NEXT STOP MALAYSIA FOR GLOBETROTTING MOTOGP PADDOCK
MAPFRE Aspar rider Jonas Folger hoping to maintain form and bounce back from Motegi disappointment
Just two days on from the Grand Prix of Japan it is already consigned to the history books and the MotoGP paddock has its focus firmly set on the next round in the championship this weekend at Sepang. The fifteenth round of the Moto3 season takes place around the palm-tree lined 5.548km Malaysian circuit, where the intense tropical heat tests the riders to the limit. Four practice sessions of intense hard work awaits as the teams do their best to adapt the machines to the high demands of the circuit and the conditions. Sandro Cortese edged closer to being crowned World Champion in Japan and unless there is a huge surprise the Moto3 title looks certain to be the first to be decided.
MAPFRE Aspar rider Jonas Folger came within a single lap of continuing his incredible start to life with the team at Motegi. Only a racing incident caused by another rider denied Jonas from a seemingly certain podium but his thoughts have already turned away from that and onto his next challenge this weekend. If he can maintain his stunning recent form then there is no reason why the German can't return to the podium this Sunday at one of his favourite circuits. Team rookie Luca Amato, meanwhile, will purely be focusing on speeding up his adaptation to Grand Prix competition.
Jonas Folger: "We were really unlucky last weekend because we could have won the race but instead we finished up in the gravel. Even so I want to remain optimistic and carry on the good form we showed in Japan. We performed to a very high level there and I hope we can continue to do so this weekend in Malaysia. Sepang is one of my favourite circuits so I can't wait to arrive and get back to work. I just know it is going to be another good weekend for us and I am going to work hard to be fighting for the win again on Sunday. I just hope we have a bit more luck on our side this weekend so that we can put the disappointment from Japan behind us."
Luca Amato: "We struggled to get on the pace at Motegi. Everything is still very new to me and I am still adapting although I didn't think it would take me this long. The Kalex/KTM package is working perfectly but I don't feel comfortable on it yet so in Malaysia we will be working against the clock to get as many laps in as possible and to get a feeling for the bike. It will be my first visit to Sepang but I must have done a thousand laps there on the games console. It looks like it will be a difficult track but I think I'll like it. I will work as hard as necessary from Friday morning to get used to this bike and this category."
MALAYSIA BECKONS AS SEASON RUN-IN GATHERS PACE
Nico Terol and Jordi Torres aim for improved performance at Sepang
An intercontinental triple-header stops off in Malaysia this weekend as the next round of the Moto2 World Championship takes place at Sepang. At over 5km it is only superseded in length by Silverstone on the current calendar but with the intense tropical heat it is a quite different challenge to the British track. The Moto2 title is moving ever close to being decided, with Marc Márquez having extended his advantage over Pol Espargaró to 53 points at the last round in Japan.
It was an almost perfect weekend at Motegi for the MAPFRE Aspar pairing of Nico Terol and Jordi Torres, who did a great job all weekend only to be denied a result to show for their efforts by incidents in the race itself. Their frustration can serve as extra motivation this weekend though as they look to put things right at Sepang.
Nico Terol: "I am still annoyed with our race at Motegi, which did not go to plan, but I am focused on turning that frustration into motivation for the next race at Sepang. I love the track although I had a difficult time last year so I want to put that right. The track is perfectly suited to my riding style and I have always been fast there in the past. I know that we are close to the perfect weekend and I won't stop working until we achieve it. As soon as we have a good race from start to finish my attitude will change. I just need to believe in it."
Jordi Torres: "We have done a great job so far and it is starting to pay ff in each race. Our objective is to keep going in the same way at Sepang. In theory it's a circuit where I could struggle because of my size and the long straights but we just have to focus on continuing to learn in every session and the race. If we keep doing our job well we can take positive steps forward and that's what it's all about. I like the track but I remember the grip being a bit strange so we'll have to be careful not to have any nasty surprises."
Márquez ready for first 'match ball'
At Malaysia in the second of three consecutive races, Marc Márquez has first chance to clinch Moto2 title.
Marc Márquez can take the title if he finishes ahead of Pol Espargaró, or if his rival cannot cut the gap by more than three points.
Dani Pedrosa (2004 and 2003), Casey Stoner (2009, 2007, 2005 and 2004), Marc Márquez (2010) and Maverick Viñales (2011) have all won in Sepang.
Pedrosa and Márquez can set new personal records for podiums in a season.
There is no time to relax and after the exciting Japanese Grand Prix a couple of days ago, the World Championship moves to the Sepang circuit this weekend (5.548 meters). All the Repsol riders that have ridden there know what it takes to win at the Malaysian track. Dani Pedrosa, Casey Stoner, Marc Márquez and Maverick Viñales have already reigned supreme and conquered and will want to repeat the feat in 2012. Meanwhile, Álex Rins, Miguel Oliveira and Álex Márquez again have to contend with a track that they have only seen on television or on the games console.
Dani Pedrosa’s task for the weekend is to further cut the 28-point gap to MotoGP leader Jorge Lorenzo for the third race in a row. He can also achieve a new personal record in the premier class: Three consecutive wins. After equalling his highest number of podiums in a single season —13 from 2004— the Repsol Honda Team rider wants to take every point of the 75 still remaining this season. At Sepang, Pedrosa has always been on the MotoGP podium and has won in the lower classes back in 2003 and 2004.
Someone not missing a win at this circuit in any category is teammate Casey Stoner, who continues his recovery. After climbing back onto the Honda RC213V for the Japanese Grand Prix, the Australian rider wants to return to the podium.
After starring in an historic comeback in Japan, where he also managed to tie his record of podium finishes in a single year from 2010, Marc Márquez heads to the Malaysian Grand Prix with 53-point lead in the overall standings. The Repsol rider will look to repeat the success achieved two years ago and seal the championship in his first ‘match ball’, at a track that does not bring him good memories. Last year, the poor performance of the marshals in the first free practice session caused a crash that prevented him from finishing the season.
In the lower cylinder class, Maverick Viñales returns to a circuit where he won last year on his first appearance. Second place last week gives the Spaniard plenty of confidence and he wants another visit to the top of the podium at all three remaining races. Álex Rins will try to continue his quest for rookie of the year honour, which is just 7 points away. He will do so at a completely new track for him, as it is for Miguel Oliveira and Álex Márquez.
"It's two seasons since I raced in Sepang and I'm looking forward to it it now. It's a track where you have a little bit of everything —it's hard to ride, it's hot, there are fast and slow corners, hard braking, long straights… and everybody has references from the tests. Nevertheless, we need to wait to see on Friday what the temperature and track conditions are like to understand how the tyres will work because it's normally very slippery. I'm really enjoying racing at the moment and I want to continue like this, pushing the maximum from our side without thinking about the others."
"After a disappointing race in Japan, I'm looking forward to going to Malaysia, it's a track where I've had success at in the past. However, this weekend marks the anniversary of Marco's death so I'm sure it will be a strange feeling when we all get on track. It's going to be a hot weekend and it's a physically demanding circuit, my ankle isn't feeling very good after the race in Japan so I'll be resting it as much as possible this week before going on track on Friday. The track is a little smoother and more flowing so hopefully I won't have so many issues as I had in Japan.”
“We have a 53-point lead but we have to manage the advantage well, because there are still three races remaining. We can be champions this weekend but we face the Malaysian Grand Prix as just another race, giving one hundred percent on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. In the race we will analyse what we can do and where we stand. I do not care whether I am crowned champion in Malaysia, Australia or Valencia; the most important thing is to get the title, although it is clear that the sooner, the better.”
“I have fond memories of the Sepang circuit, because last year I got a great win which was, in my opinion, one of my best races. On the other hand, you cannot help but think that we are going back to the place where Simoncelli was killed a year ago. I like the layout of the Malaysian track and I hope to achieve a great result, although I know that we will suffer because the characteristics of the track can make big differences. We are going for the podium and want to regain second place in the championship, so we must continue in this way. We continue to work and the Grand Prix is still up for grabs.”
“We're already in Malaysia and eager to find out about this circuit. The truth is that in the end, the result in Japan was not what we expected; we lost out a lot on the straights. So now we have to focus on this second race in Asia to get a good result in the final stretch of the championship. I am motivated and eager to do well.”
“Japan is over and done with and we are in Malaysia. I am thrilled with the outcome of last Sunday. To get another fourth place and be closer to the rookie of the year honour is a dream for the whole team. We worked very well at the last few races and that is the way we will follow at Sepang. We know how hard it will be, especially with the high temperatures and humidity, but we are ready and very motivated.”
“I was really surprised with the temperature in Malaysia, but Marc had already warned me about this. I wish it were Thursday already so that I could take a lap of the track, because it looks spectacular. The temperatures are very high, so it will be important to be physically will prepared. I arrive here with confidence after the last race, where we got points again, but we know that we can still do even better.”
REA LOOKS TO UNLOCK SEPANG SECRETS
Gino Rea heads straight from Motegi to Sepang this week hoping the Malaysian circuit can help him finally unlock the set-up secrets of his Suter machine. After another difficult weekend in Japan the characteristics of this particular track should be more helpful to the British rider in his quest to return to the battle for points.
Gino Rea “Japan was another weekend to forget. We tried everything but I struggled all weekend and the situation was no better for the race. I am desperate to succeed and I will not stop trying until I show my true potential on track. We will try again at Sepang, which is another new track for me but one that should be easier than Motegi and I will work hard with the team to try and find the confidence I need to push the bike."
Fausto Gresini “Gino is struggling to find a setting he is comfortable with and that is a real shame. Motegi was another difficult weekend for him so hopefully he can work with the team to find a better setting at Sepang and fight for a good result.”
WILAIROT HOPING FOR SUCCESS AT CLOSEST RACE TO HOME
Ratthapark Wilairot showed his battling spirit at Motegi to fight through forearm pain and this weekend he is hoping to be in much better shape as he tackles his 'home' race. The Malaysian Grand Prix is the closest round to his native Thailand and 'Feem' will be doing his best to delight the travelling support at Sepang.
Ratthapark Wilairot “It wasn't an easy weekend in Japan, where I really struggled with my forearm because of all the hard braking. I will have an operation at the end of the season but in the meantime my focus is on doing a good job in Malaysia this weekend. I will try my best even though I know it will be hard. The bike is improving and we should be able to do much better at a circuit where the forearm won't be as much of an issue.”
Fausto Gresini “Feem is slowly recovering the confidence he needs to be fighting for points but his physical condition is not helping. His determination to do well is still intact though and hopefully in Malaysia where there isn't as much hard braking he'll be able to do a good job.”
NICCOLO READY TO BUILD ON MOTEGI FIGHTBACK AT SEPANG
Niccolò Antonelli's fightback through the Moto3 field at Motegi on Sunday has given him the perfect boost in confidence as the series continues apace with the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang this weekend. The Team San Carlo Honda Gresini Moto3 youngster continues to gather experience and along with his engineers he is improving his package every weekend. Sepang will be another new adventure for him but the aim is to continue to close the gap to the top guys and build for the future.
Niccolo’ Antonelli “It was a shame about the incident at the start on Sunday but after fighting my way through the field I now have more confidence in the bike and I feel I will be able to push it even harder this weekend. The problem is not completely solved but we are on the right path now and I am looking forward to riding at another new circuit, which will be good experience for the future. Looking at the circuit on television it seems like it will be suited to my style but we will see. It won't be an easy weekend for the team because of the sad memories of last year so I will be doing my best to give them something to smile about.”
Fausto Gresini “ Niccolò continues to make progress and as well as scoring a solid result at Motegi we saw a determined performance. He pulled off a spectacular recovery and along with his engineers he is putting in a lot of hard work to fix his problems with the bike and it is starting to pay off. He has more confidence with the bike now and as he continues to gather experience his performances will continue to improve further.”
MotoGP Moto3 - Team Italia FMI sets high goals for Malaysia
MotoGP's Asian tour continues, and Team Italia hits Sepang after a strong weekend in Motegi.
The podium conquered by Alessandro Tonucci (Team Italia FMI FTR Honda#19) was also his best result in the championship, and he's determined to finish the season in a strong fashion. His good form will help him on tracks that he enjoys such as the remaining ones. Last year in Sepang he climbed from 20th position to score points, and expectations are much higher this weekend.
Romano Fenati (Team Italia FMI FTR Honda#5) debuts at yet another track, and is ready to tackle it with the same grit. Despite a few issues with tires, he was able to score a solid 10th in Japan, conserving his fourth place in the standings and the leadership in the Rookie rankings. In Malaysia he can take advantage of a nice mix between slow and fast corners and long straights to show his talent.
Italy's only victory in the smaller class was scored by current Technical Coordinator Roberto Locatelli in 2000.
Roberto Locatelli (FMI Technical Coordinator)
"We can finish the championship strong. Besides Fenati, Tonucci is also in great form. We're one of the few team who scored podiums with both riders. The race will be hard, especially because of the heat, but we aim at Top 5 with both Fenati and Tonucci. I hope someone can break my record of being the only Italian to win here in the smaller class. My mind, however, goes to what happened last year, when fate took a wonderful person such as Marco Simoncelli away from us. I still remember the deafening silence that fell upon the track. We miss him, and we'll race to honor his memory."
The Malaysian Motorcycle GP
Once again, Brad Binder couldn't finish another race due to no fault of his own: another technical problem occurred during the Grand Prix of Japan, and the bike started to slow down causing Brad to drop down from 15th to 21st position and then to finally, he was forced to retire.
It's useless to say that this could have really been a good race for Brad: he was fast all weekend long, and in this morning's warm up he had shown a pace that kept him constantly in the Top 10; at the beginning of the race Brad had a really good start and went up to 12th position, and after some laps he was still there battling for a position in the points until his gearbox put paid to his chances.
Nevertheless, Brad hasn't given up and he's now in Malaysia relaxing for a couple of days before getting back on track again this weekend! Brad knows Sepang's circuit because he raced there last year with Team Machado. He was 12th for a good half of the race before crashing out, but considering that was his first time on the Malaysian track, it wasn't bad at all! Unfortunately last year The Sepang International Circuit was theatre of a tragic event, the death of Marco Simoncelli, and of course Brad will never forget that.
Brad Binder following Motegi: " I have no words. I'm so disappointed, I always think – this time it will be different, I don’t think I will ever get used to the problems that keep preventing me from finishing a race. There's not much to say: I felt very comfortable on the bike all weekend long until it started to slow down and I had to retire."
Brad Binder from Malaysia: " I like Sepang's International Circuit! Last year I was battling for the points even though I had never been on that track! I'm really looking forward to racing again this weekend! We mustn't forget what happened last year though.. It will be sad to think about Marco Simoncelli's death, but I'm sure he's looking down on us and can't wait to watch us race! Marco will never be forgotten."
Dunlop tackles Hot and Sticky Customer in Sepang
Dunlop’s Moto2 tyres move to Malaysia for the 15th round of the Moto2 World Championship with the Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix which takes place at Sepang International Circuit on October 19-21, the second race in succession where the new 345 compound front tyre is called into service in place of the more familiar 717.
Hot and Sticky
Sepang has a number of challenges as a circuit. Built as a Formula 1 venue, the track layout includes two long high speed straights to test the structural integrity of the tyres’ makeup. The weather is frequently hot and humid, which affects the chemical bonding of the rubber to the track surface. Afternoon tea-time is often heralded by the short, sharp, shock of a momentary monsoon to dampen the track and its inhabitants.
As well as the straights, there is also an intriguing mix of corner types keep the tyres well exercised over the course of its 5.548 clockwise lap, which is completed at one of the highest average speeds of the season.
Sepang will see the rear combo of Group A – Baseline in use, with the two soft compounds of 3757 and 3854 pressed into play. 3757 was initially introduced as the high ambient tyre in late 2010 but has subsequently proved itself more durable in cooler conditions on less aggressive circuit surfaces so gets let out of the factory more often. The 3854 is the softer option core compound offering very consistent performance, being usable at many different circuit types.
This will be the second race where the otherwise season regular front 717 compound is rested and the 345 is called into action. After utilisation in Motegi, where conditions played to its 302 compound partner, Dunlop will continue with evaluation of this tyre in its continued quest for performance improvement for the remainder of this season and beyond.
Dunlop’s Moto2 Operations Manager, Clinton Howe:
“Sepang is the second of three in a row so it’s a pretty intense time of the year! Sepang is a bit of a tricky customer. No matter what you try in terms of tyres, it’s always hard to achieve a similar level of
grip as we see at other circuits, particularly because of the circuit layout and the weather conditions. Over the years we have tried numerous approaches, yet it seems impossible to find a tyre which is perfectly matched to the circuit due to the compromises required; but we keep working to find the perfect tyre for these difficult conditions. You can certainly say we learn a lot, and this is a very important aspect of our involvement in Moto2 as our tyre technology is permanently pushed.
“The humidity and the frequent afternoon thunderstorms mean that the circuit surface never fully rubbers in as there is almost a ‘sweat’ on the track surface, it’s consistently greasy. The rain usually comes at around three or four ‘o’ clock in the afternoon, pretty much every day. It’s usually very similar conditions – and this seems to be the case no matter what time of the year we visit!
“Our wet tyres are pretty good – as has been confirmed a number of times this season - but sometimes the rain is so intense that running has to be stopped due to a lack of visibility. Equally, the rain can be amazingly localised, one part of the track can be dry, one part heaving with rain – or even one part of the pit lane wet, another dry. A wet track usually equals a cooler track, but in Malaysia the temperatures of often pretty high.
“The two long straights and the corner setup means that you can consider Sepang almost as two circuits – a left handed one and a right handed one. Over the course of a lap you have in effect all left turns, a couple of long straights, then all right hand turns. This means that one side of the tyre isn’t used for around half a lap, then the other side faces a similar experience. Because it is a balanced circuit in terms of number of left and right turns and demands, you can’t do anything clever with an asymmetric tyre, so all in all, Sepang’s quite a challenge!
“Motei was a particularly satisfying event for us. Conditions were in the sweet spot with track temperatures never low or high, staying in the 30°C – 35°C region all weekend. This meant the tyres worked very well and performance only improved with more set up time.
“The new front 345 was received well but was never really called for as the softer option was more than enough to give good performance. Rear tyres were quite even on the first day of practice but after more time on track the 4886 option became the favourite. Post-race all tyres showed very good appearance and riders were very complementary about tyre performance. The top two finishers were below the 2011 lap record on every lap but two, and both set new lap records on the penultimate and last laps. The Motegi race was over a minute shorter than 2011’s race so we’re sorry that we’re shortening the Moto2 race enjoyment.”
Moto2 Rider Quote: Ratthapark Wilairot Thai Honda PTT Gresini Suter:
“People think that Motegi is a hard braking circuit but I think that Sepang is harder on the brakes. I like the back part of the track but not the front part because it is too much stop start. At this track I need lots of support from the front tyre for braking and lots of traction from the rear, especially when the track gets very hot. I have had good confidence up to now with Dunlop’s tyres and they have been working well.”