Press release previews from the MotoGP teams and single tire supplier Bridgestone ahead of this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang:
ONWARDS TO SEPANG IN MEMORY OF MARCO
Team Gresini and the rest of the MotoGP World Championship make an emotional return to the Sepang International Circuit this week, one year on from the tragic death of Marco Simoncelli. The memory of Marco remains as bright as the life he lived and it will be difficult for the paddock to keep their emotions in check when the circuit gates open on Thursday. The joy of a podium finish in the last round at Motegi will certainly help the mood in the Team San Carlo Honda Gresini garage, where Marco's absence will be most keenly felt. Alvaro Bautista and his crew performed brilliantly at the home of Honda, working intensively with Showa as they have done all season to provide a solution to the Spaniard's lack of feel for the front suspension. There is clearly still much work to be done but a podium was just what the team needed before travelling to Sepang, a circuit that should be well suited to Alvaro's riding style. After picking up another point in Japan Michele Pirro is closing in on the top three in the CRT championship and he is looking for more this weekend as the team look to end a difficult first year in the new category on an upward curve.
Alvaro Bautista “I was delighted with the result at Motegi in Honda's home race, on a weekend when I agreed a new deal with Gresini Racing for 2013. To be a part of the first ever all-Spanish podium in MotoGP and to move up to fifth in the championship just capped it all off. There were plenty of reasons to celebrate and I was happy to do so with the team, who have continued to believe in me during some difficult times.We have done a great job along with the guys at Showa and even though our problems are not 100% solved we are on the right lines. Now we go to Sepang in good form but with a heavy heart because of the events of last year. The track itself suits our bike and my riding style so we will work hard from the first lap to find the best possible setting for the race and then give our best as always to hang on to the guys at the front and maybe even repeat the result from Japan.”
Michele Pirro “We picked up another point at Motegi, which may not be a lot but our goal was to close the gap to the top three CRTs in the championship and we did that. It wasn't an easy race because we struggled all weekend at Motegi with a chatter problem but it was important we made it to the end. Now we go to Malaysia, where the memories of Marco will come flooding back. It won't be easy but the thought of him helped me win the Moto2 race at Valencia last year so this Sunday I will be giving my best again to pay him tribute, which I owe to the guys on my side of the garage who worked with Marco last year. I like the track and I think it will be well suited to the characteristics of our bike. If we can solve some of the problems we have run into lately then we should be able to do well. We have some ideas on what we can change, with the objective of fighting to be the top CRT again. ”
Fausto Gresini “The fact we finished on the podium at Motegi, the home of Honda, gave extra value to an outstanding performance from Alvaro. Japan is a special place for our team and to add another fantastic result to our past success there was wonderful. Now we go to Sepang, which won't be easy for us after the events of last year, which left a void that can never be filled. Marco was a special person to all of us and we miss him a lot but I am sure that is the case for everybody connected to the World Championship. We see that with the affection that continues to be shown for him wherever we go. With heavy hearts we will give our best this weekend to honour his memory and we are in good shape to do just that. Alvaro, the team and Showa have between them found the missing piece of the jigsaw and even though there is still a lot of work to be done we have found the path to follow. I am satisfied with our progress on the CRT front and another point in Japan showed that the hard work is paying off. Michele pushed hard to finish the race and that gives us all a boost for this weekend, when our bike should perform better. We have to keep working hard and moving the project forward.”
Fresh from victory in Japan, Repsol Honda arrive in Malaysia
The Repsol Honda Team have landed in Kuala Lumpur, straight from Japan, to prepare for the sixteenth round of the 2012 MotoGP season. The Malaysian Grand Prix weekend will begin at 16h00 on Thursday afternoon when the entire paddock will assemble at the scene of the tragic accident that took Marco Simoncelli's life at this Grand Prix last year, to honour the much loved Italian rider.
Upbeat after his stunning victory at Motegi, his 20th win in MotoGP and 43rd in his career, Dani Pedrosa will once again be one of the favourites for the victory in Sepang. He hasn't raced in Malaysia since 2009 -the race was cancelled last year and he missed 2010 due to injury- but the Spaniard has an impressive record at this track with two victories (2003 in 125cc and 2004 in 250cc) and four podiums in MotoGP. He currently lies 28 points off Jorge Lorenzo in the race to the MotoGP title and will be aiming to again finish in front of his countryman to keep his championship hopes alive.
Casey Stoner returned from injury in Japan with a positive fifth place after a difficult weekend. His injured right ankle is affecting his riding ability, but he hopes to feel stronger this weekend in Sepang, another very physically demanding track. Every time Casey has stepped onto the podium in Sepang he has celebrated victory: 4 in total (2 in MotoGP, 1 in 250cc and 1 in 125cc).
DANI PEDROSA World Championship Standing: 2nd with 282 points
"It's two seasons since I raced in Sepang and I'm looking forward to 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".
CASEY STONER World Championship Standing: 3rd with 197 points
"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"
Overseas trip continues for Ducati Team
It is with mixed feelings that the MotoGP tour heads from Japan to Malaysia for the second of three overseas races in three weeks. On the one hand, Sepang International Circuit, which the teams also visit for off-season testing, is a sort of home away from home for the championship, a popular, diverse track in a warm and tropical locale. On the other hand, it’s impossible to forget that it was the site of Marco Simoncelli’s tragic accident one year ago. Those in the MotoGP paddock will gather on Thursday afternoon to pay homage to the Italian, who remains very close to the hearts of everyone in the racing world.
Only one-sixth of the season now remains, and the Ducati Team hopes to improve the performance of the Desmosedici during these final three races. Compared to recent rounds, Malaysia, where the team has tallied three victories over the years, will offer riders Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden the additional challenge of high air and track temperatures, which will test the endurance of riders and tyres alike.
VALENTINO ROSSI, Ducati Team
“We’ll see what awaits us at Sepang, because we didn’t do very well there during the winter tests. Still, many months have passed since then, and now with the new frame and swingarm, the bike is better. The race and the whole weekend will certainly be very difficult because of the high temperatures, which present a challenge for both the bike and the riders. That said, it’s obviously not our first time, and we know what to expect. We’ll try to do our best.”
NICKY HAYDEN, Ducati Team
“Motegi is behind us, and hopefully Malaysia we can do a better result and have a better weekend. We need to be able to start better on Friday. We do have a few new parts to try this weekend that may help, and hopefully my wrist will be stronger now that it’s been three weeks since I hurt it. The track has less downhill braking, so it might not cause me as much pain as it did last weekend. The season is really getting close to the end, and we need to try our best to do a couple of good results before it’s over.”
VITTORIANO GUARESCHI, Team Manager
“We come to Malaysia expecting a challenging weekend due to the high temperatures, because as always, heat tests the riders’ conditioning while also affecting the bike’s setup. Technically speaking, it’s a track where, apart from a slow hairpin, there are no stop-and-go sections like those at Motegi, where we suffered on acceleration and on the exits from the tight corners. There are two long straightaways where we can take advantage of our engine’s horsepower. It will be important to preserve the tyres by finding a setup that enables us to have a steady performance for the entire race. It’s something that we’ve been able to do in recent races but that will be more difficult here at Sepang because of the high temperatures.”
Yamaha return to Sepang
Yamaha Factory Racing set up in Sepang this week straight from Japan for the middle of the three overseas back-to-back races, the Grand Prix of Malaysia. Championship leader Jorge Lorenzo arrives with a 28-point lead at the top of the standings after a strong second place finish at Motegi on Sunday. The Sepang circuit holds starkly contrasting connotations for Lorenzo, being the scene of his World Championship title in 2010 countered by the tragic passing of Marco Simoncelli in 2011.
Ben Spies moves to Sepang determined to complete the final three races of the season on a high note following a disastrous Grand Prix of Japan which saw him retire on the second lap with braking issues. Due to the cancellation of last year’s race Spies has only competed once at the Sepang circuit, taking an impressive fourth place finish from fourth on the grid in his rookie year.
“So here we are back in Sepang, a track with difficult memories for all of us from Marco’s tragic accident last year. It is also a track which has very good memories for me from 2010 when I became MotoGP World Champion. With three races left to go we must stay very focused and do our best to put on a good show this weekend. The track is maybe more suited to our bike than Motegi so we will be aiming for the best possible result.”
“It’s a strange feeling to come back here after last year. We will honour Sic in the best way we know how, by going out on track and giving 100% as always. Last weekend was yet another disappointment with brake issues, I really hope we can have a trouble free time here in Sepang and show our true podium potential.”
“Sepang is one of the tracks where we’ve covered more laps than anywhere else with two tests here. In the wintertime we improved a lot from last year which is important. The humidity and the temperature makes it much tougher for the riders but we feel quite strong here and we are prepared for to fight for the podium again.”
“With just three races to go Jorge is now very close to securing the World Championship title, however we cannot afford to relax and each one will be crucial. We are not here aiming for second places so if a win is possible that is the result we are trying for. With very positive test results in the pre-season we are confident that Ben will also show his true potential here and we expect a trouble-free weekend to allow him to do that.”
STEFAN AND LCR CREW RETURN TO HOT SEPANG CIRCUIT
Sepang, 18th October: LCR Honda MotoGP Team set up in Sepang this week straight from Japan for the middle of the three overseas back-to-back races, the Grand Prix of Malaysia. Stefan Bradl has been by far the best rookie of the premier class and will aim to score further important points riding his GIVI branded RC213Vs.
Bradl's Japanese race was hindered by an arm pump problem but with less hard braking in Sepang, he is confident he will not suffer a recurrence of the condition. This year Malaysian GP will represent a significant event for everybody in the paddock as the whole MotoGP family will remember the Honda's rising star Marco Simoncelli who tragically passed away last year during the MotoGP race.
Stefan: “"I nearly missed the win at Sepang last year when the race was stopped. I like the circuit, it is fast and flowing, which suits my style. In Motegi I suffered from arm pump, which should not cause any problems at Sepang because there is less braking. We came here for the winter test so we already have some data and base set up to develop. This weekend will remind me the loss of a great champion, Marco Simoncelli, and I am sure that all the riders will aim to pay homage to their late colleague and friend”.
SEPANG READY TO WELCOME MOTOGP PADDOCK FOR SECOND LEG OF TRIPLE-HEADER
Battle for CRT supremacy intensifies between POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar pair with three races to go
An intense finale to the MotoGP World Championship gathers pace this weekend with the second of three races in as many weekends. Just a few days after leaving Japan the paddock will pitch up at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia, one of only three tracks in the world that hosts both MotoGP and F1. The circuit is well known to the teams and riders thanks to the quantity of preseason testing that takes place there but this week will be particularly poignant as they return to the scene of the tragic passing of Marco Simoncelli in last year's race. Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa will pay their own special tribute by continuing their battle for the MotoGP World Championship, with Lorenzo still ahead on points but Pedrosa the man in form.
With just three races remaining there is also an entertaining struggle to finish the season as the top CRT rider in the championship, which is a two-horse race between POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar Randy de Puniet and Aleix Espargaró. The Spaniard edged clear of his team-mate after a crash for the Frenchman at Motegi but with only two points between them it is a battle that promises to go all the way to the final round at Valencia.
Aleix Espargaró: "Sepang is one of my favourite circuits. It is wide with long straights and you can really have a lot of fun on a big bike there. I think we can have another great weekend in Malaysia and that is what we'll be working towards. We have been hanging on to a new engine for a while now so that we can use it here in Malaysia so I'm looking forward to putting it in and seeing how it runs. I have always raced well at Sepang in the past so I hope it's the same this year. We had another great result at Motegi and recovered the lead in the CRT category so now we have to fight until the end to stay there."
Randy De Puniet: "We had some set-up problems at Motegi but luckily we have a quick opportunity to fix them in Malaysia this weekend. We had been working perfectly up until Japan so we need to get back into that rhythm and make sure Motegi was a one-off. My ankles were painful when we left Japan but thankfully they are recovering quickly and I hope to be in much better shape this weekend. I like the track and I know we can get back to performing at a high level there. There are only three races left so we have to give it everything."
THE PRAMAC RACING TEAM HEADS TO SEPANG FOR THE MALAYSIAN MOTORCYLE GRAND PRIX
The Pramac Racing Team and his rider Héctor Barberà are getting ready for the 16th round of the season that will take place in Malaysia at the Sepang circuit, where, during last year’s race, Marco Simoncelli tragically lost his life.
The white and green crew arrives in Malaysia with a strong confidence that it can fight for a thrilling race into the top ten, also to pay homage to Sic.
Héctor has strong memories at the Malaysian track, achieving important podium in the past years, like in 2009 or in 2007 aboard on his Aprilia 250cc and these keepsakes will be an extra motivation for him to do a great race.
The fast and technical Sepang track is without a doubt the most mentally and physically demanding on the calendar, with its frequent changes of direction that provides a great workout both for the rider and for the bike and also due to the extreme weather conditions and high humidity.
Héctor Barberà – Pramac Racing Team Rider –
“I’m looking forward to going to Malaysia because we have a lot of positive data at the Sepang circuit. It is a track I know well, having spent much of the preseason testing there. I was quite fast during the winter and I hope it will be the same again this weekend, even if it remains one of the most demanding on the calendar. I will give the best I can from Friday to catch a great result”.
Bridgestone MotoGP™ Race Preview - Round 16: Sepang, Malaysia
Thursday, 18 October 2012
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Hard, Extra-Hard. Rear: Medium (Symmetric), Hard (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Hard (Main), Soft (Alternative)
Round sixteen of the 2012 MotoGP™ season takes place at Sepang International Circuit, a real test of man and machine with its high ambient temperatures and technical layout.
Comprising ten right-hand and five left-hand corners and measuring 5,548 metres in length, Sepang’s standout feature are its two long straights that demand excellent stability from the front tyre due to the very hard braking zones at the end. The rest of the circuit is a mix of high and low speed corners that overall place a lot of stress on tyres – particularly at the front.
Following in-depth analysis of tyre performance at Sepang over previous years, Bridgestone has altered its selection of rear slicks for this season. The symmetric medium compound slick remains but the harder rear slick this year will be asymmetric in construction with the same medium compound rubber on the left shoulder as the symmetric slick combined with the hard compound rubber on the right shoulder for enhanced durability in hot conditions. Due to its location in the tropics, Sepang is the only race on the calendar where the soft compound front slick isn’t supplied, with the hard and extra-hard front slicks provided to give maximum stability in the severe braking zones at this circuit.
Owing to its high ambient temperatures the main wet tyre for the Malaysian Grand Prix will be the hard compound option and being located in the tropics, sudden wet weather is always a possibility at Sepang.
Hiroshi Yamada - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department
“This will be the third time this year we have visited the Sepang circuit after the winter tests at the beginning of the year and all the hard work put in by the teams and riders will be very important in establishing a setup for this weekend. The level at which Dani and Jorge are riding right now is very high and they continue to push each other to the limits to the delight of all of us who get to see them compete. Sunday’s race will start later in the day than usual at 4pm and there is a strong chance of rain throughout the weekend. I hope that the weather doesn’t have an impact on the race and that we can enjoy a thrilling contest at this fantastic circuit.
“Of course, it will be with a heavy heart that we participate in this year’s Malaysian Grand Prix as we remember Marco Simoncelli. I believe everyone in the paddock will be thinking of Marco throughout the weekend and will do all they can to ensure the MotoGP fans of the world are treated to a show that is worthy of his memory.”
Shinji Aoki - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
“Sepang is characterised by its two long straights which contribute to it being the second longest circuit on the calendar and the generally high track temperature which is often above 50° Celsius. It is one of the fastest circuits of the season with a mix of high speed corners and tight hairpins and features two extreme braking cut-outs at the end of the two straights. The braking zones demand high levels of stability from the centre section of the front tyres, while the high speed corners demand good shoulder grip and durability.
“A good bike setup is important here to ensure good tyre durability in the high ambient and track temperatures and in this regard, the data acquired during the pre-season tests here will be very important to teams this weekend.”