Press releases from the MotoGP teams and the single tire supplier after the first day of a rain-affected practice at Sepang:
Mixed Weather Provides Frustrating Start in Sepang
The Grand Prix of Malaysia got underway today at the Sepang circuit in typically hot conditions with humidity over 85%. Yamaha Factory Racing riders Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies spent the morning session working through a base set up to try and improve rear grip issues at a number of corners. The afternoon’s second free practice proved to be useless for the majority of the MotoGP riders as an early rain shower left them with a half wet, half dry track. As a result both Yamaha Factory riders only ventured out for a single lap on wet tyres and didn’t record a time, the conditions making it very easy to crash and providing little useful data.
Position : 3rd Time: 2'01.934 Laps: 14
“This morning was great, from the beginning I was competitive and more or less at the same pace as Dani and Casey. Casey especially is much stronger than he was in Japan. This afternoon unfortunately we couldn’t practice because of the weather. We need to improve the behavior of the bike in acceleration for tomorrow, it’s a little nervous so we need to make it a little easier."
Position : 6th Time: 2'02.358 Laps: 16
“This morning was pretty normal, the track wasn’t so great and we had some electronic issues that hindered us a little but the bike was working pretty well. We were hoping to get a good session in this afternoon but the rain was against us. It wasn’t worth taking any risks with the track being half dry and half wet so we’ll wait for tomorrow and see what happens.”
“Overall it’s been a disappointing day because we missed a complete practice this afternoon which is a shame because I think everybody was ready to step up the game and improve things. There were four corners wet and the rest dry so a useless second practice. Let’s see tomorrow, hopefully we’ll have better weather.”
“As has happened a few times this year, we have had almost a completely useless Friday. Fortunately we were able to get some data in the morning session as we could get nothing in the afternoon. We prepared some changes from the first session so we hope that tomorrow will be dry so we can test them. It could be that Sunday is mixed like today so tomorrow is very important to complete some laps and get as much information as possible.”
Pedrosa and Stoner up front on Day 1 in Sepang
Fresh from victory in Motegi last week, the Repsol Honda Team continued to top the time sheets at the Sepang circuit today. Dani Pedrosa took first position recording a best lap time of 2'01.621 with Casey Stoner in second, only 0.152 off Pedrosa with 2'01.773.
It's been a typical first day of free practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix, with high temperatures and humidity in the morning session and sporadic heavy showers arriving in the afternoon which reduced time on track. The Repsol Honda riders didn't complete a flying lap in the afternoon as the track was wet at the beginning but as the session progressed areas began to dry up creating awkward 50/50 conditions.
Anyway, the weekend has started very positive for Dani and Casey, both riding under the current circuit record in the dry conditions set by Stoner in 2007 (2'02.108). The team will be aiming to make the most of tomorrow's last free practice to be ready for a strong qualifying session.
DANI PEDROSA 1st 2'01.621
"We've been lucky to have the first practice in the dry to begin setting up the bike for the race because as we've seen in the last few days sooner or later it rains here. The track was a little dirty in the morning and the grip level quite poor, but the lap times were not so bad and the conditions will improve throughout the weekend. In the morning I had a lot of vibration in the rear which we think was a problem with the wheel balance. I did a sighting lap in the afternoon and it was full wet until turn 4 but from there, full dry, so we decided to stay in the pits. We will have to make good use of track time tomorrow morning to prepare the bike for qualifying and the race".
CASEY STONER 2nd 2'01.773
"I definitely feel more comfortable here than I did in Japan, I'm not sure if this is time on the bike or the fact that this track isn't quite so demanding on my right leg. The circuit goes to the right a lot, but there aren't so many slow corners that I need to pick the bike up from and I'm getting a better feeling here so the lap times came easier. We still have quite a bit of work to do and I don't think we are anywhere near the pace that we need to be but the first session went very well and hopefully we can continue in this way for the remainder of the weekend".
Rain affects day one at Malaysian Grand Prix
The second free practice session at the Malaysian Grand Prix was affected by a typical tropical downpour that gave way to the sun just before the start. Riding on the track, which was neither completely wet nor completely dry, was rendered useless for the entire session.
Valentino Rossi paid the consequences, as he had intended to try some changes to the balance of his Desmosedici in order improve rear grip.
In the morning, Nicky Hayden had started doing some comparative tests with a swingarm with a different stiffness, which Rossi had begun using after Misano. Like his teammate, the American will work on improving grip tomorrow.
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) 8th (2:02.754)
“With my injury last winter, I didn’t really do much meaningful riding here during testing, so it’s hard to compare the bike from then to now. The main thing we’re working on is finding more edge grip, and we made a couple of improvements there. I was almost two seconds faster than last year here during FP1, which is nice. I tried the new swingarm, which definitely gave me better feeling at the rear. Then this afternoon was really strange. As can happen at long circuits, the track was completely wet on one part and completely dry on another, during the same lap! I did two laps, just to feel the wet conditions in case that’s what we have on Sunday. Anyway, I definitely felt a little better today than I did in Motegi, both with my wrist and on the bike, so hopefully we can have a much better weekend.”
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) 11th (2:03.274)
“We’ve been a little unfortunate with the weather in recent races. This afternoon it rained right before the session, which made it difficult to work. It’s a shame, as we had two or three things to try with the balance of the bike after we were pretty slow this morning. We had continued working with some changes that we used at Motegi, where they’d helped us to have a little more grip under acceleration. Here, though, they weren’t as effective because they cause a lot of understeer. This afternoon it was important to be able to work because we wanted to return to a more standard setup, like at Aragon and Misano. I tried riding a little in an effort to understand as much as possible, but it’s difficult in these conditions. There’s nothing we can do about it, so we’ll have to wait until tomorrow.”
Rain disrupts Dovizioso and Crutchlow's preparations in Sepang
A heavy early afternoon rain shower prevented Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team riders Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow from building on a positive opening practice session at the long and technical Sepang International Circuit today.
Dovizioso was fourth and Crutchlow fifth fastest in typically hot and humid conditions this morning, but torrential rain that fell shortly before the start of this afternoon's second practice session meant only 12 riders took to the track in mixed conditions.
With little to learn from lapping on a drying surface, Dovizioso and Crutchlow decided not to complete a lap this afternoon, but after a positive start this morning, both are optimistic they can challenge for pole position in tomorrow's qualifying session.
Dovizioso's best lap of 2.02.236 in FP1 meant he was the leading non-factory rider in the classification and he was just over 0.3s away from the top three, which included in-form Spanish duo Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo.
Crutchlow was only 0.030s behind his Italian teammate after he quickly found a set-up that coped with slippery track conditions this morning. The British rider ended with a best time of 2.02.266.
Andrea Dovizioso 4th 2.02.236 – 16 laps:
“The track was very slippery this morning but I was pleased to finish fourth and my lap time was fast and competitive. I could go faster at the end of the session even with a lot of laps on the rear tyre, so it is a promising start to the weekend. I wanted to try some important changes to the set-up of the bike this afternoon but the rain that fell before the start meant we couldn't do the work we had planned. The conditions were mixed, so it wasn't worth going out and taking any risks and we will have to wait to try the modifications tomorrow.”
Cal Crutchlow 5th 2.02.266 - 16 laps:
“It was a shame the rain meant I didn't get to go out on track for the second session because I had some work to do to improve the bike. I felt confident right from the start this mornin g and even though I wasn't pushing that hard because the track was quite greasy, the lap time still came quite easy. Hopefully tomorrow we will have better luck with the weather and we can focus on improving the bike for the race.”
MIXED OPENING DAY AT MALAYSIA CIRCUIT FOR BRADL
Sepang, 19th October: in the opening day of the Malaysian GP, riders were met with the typically hot and humid conditions at the track, with grip levels characteristically low in the first morning practice, prompting most riders to head out on the softer option tyres including LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl.
The German rookie made a solid start to the weekend in seventh and was looking to improve his machinery overall package but the afternoon session was marred by mixed weather conditions and the 22-year-old could not replicate this morning performance.
Stefan: “This morning first outing was very difficult because the surface was very dirty and the grip very low. We struggled with some chattering problems which we wanted to adjust in the afternoon but unfortunately the weather was unstable with patches of heavy rain in some parts of the track and we could not proceed our job. Let’s see what’s going on with the weather tomorrow because we have a lot of things to test”.
POWER ELECTRONICS PAIR SET CRT PACE AT SEPANG
Randy De Puniet thirteenth and Aleix Espargaró fourteenth on opening day hit by afternoon rainstorm
It was a case of a job half done for the MotoGP teams at Sepang today, as a dry opening free practice session was followed by a lunchtime thunderstorm that made for virtually impossible conditions in the afternoon. With huge damp patches in some areas as the rest of the asphalt dried there was little point in exiting pit lane for the second session and only thirteen riders did so, meaning the lap times from this morning remained as the fastest of the day - Dani Pedrosa topping the overnight timesheets from Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo with Randy De Puniet and Aleix Espargaró again the men to beat in CRT.
Just 0.048 seconds separate the POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar pair, De Puniet lapping thirteenth fastest and Espargaró fourteenth. The Frenchman and the Spaniard were amongst the few riders to brave the mixed conditions the afternoon, hoping to gather data that could prove crucial should the weather deal a similar hand on Sunday.
13th Randy De Puniet 2.05.029 (26 laps): "We started out this morning with our usual base setting. We had some problems at Motegi so today we tried to get back on the course we were on beforehand. My feeling with the bike was good but the problem is that it uses up the tyres very quickly. We spent most of the day working with used tyres and trying to adapt the electronics to get the best out of them. Overall it has been a positive day even though the afternoon session was a washout."
14th Aleix Espargaró 2.05.077 (22 laps): "We had a lot of work to get through this morning. At the start of the session we were getting a lot of vibration from the front end, which could have been down to the fact that the track is often dirty here on the first day. I could see from the television that I wasn't the only rider to struggle with it. Even so we set a decent lap time, virtually the same as Randy, and then in the afternoon we couldn't really improve on it because of the weather. We did a short run on wet tyres just to try and get some data in case it rains again for the race on Sunday. Overall I am quite satisfied with the first day here and I hope we can continue making improvements tomorrow."
After Friday Abaja on 12th place in Malaysia
The Friday´s free parctices at the Sepang circuit were again influenced by tricky weather conditions. The surface of the race track was due to heavy rain showers half dry and half wet in the afternoon and that also affected the attendance of the top MotoGP riders. The Czech Karel Abraham attended both free practices and set the best time 2:04,624 in the morning one with the loss 3,003 sec to the fastest rider of the day Dani Pedrosa. Abaja is in combined practice times on the 12th place.
RAIN HALTS PLAY AT SEPANG
A heavy lunchtime downpour interrupted work for the MotoGP teams as action got underway at Sepang today, leaving the track wet in places for the afternoon's second session. Alvaro Bautista was able to work on his dry set-up this morning but after struggling for rear traction with his Honda RC213V the Spaniard was denied the opportunity to improve in the afternoon by the inclement weather. It was also a frustrating day for Michele Pirro and his crew, who need dry track time to work on the set-up of the CRT bike here.
Alvaro Bautista (9th 2’ 02” 872) “Unfortunately we have only had half a day to work here. We didn't have much traction in the dry this morning and we were struggling for pace mid-corner and under acceleration. We weren't able to try anything this afternoon so it's all postponed until tomorrow. Anyway we are confident because I think the solution is quite obvious and we think we know how to fix the problem.”
Michele Pirro (16th 2’ 06” 058) “It is a real shame about this afternoon because we haven't been able to get the work done that we had planned. It is another new circuit for our bike and it is important for us to have the track time to find a set-up. To go second fastest this afternoon in the mixed conditions is a partial satisfaction but obviously it doesn't mean much. Hopefully we can have good weather tomorrow so that we can work throughout both sessions without interruptions.”
Fausto Gresini “We didn't need the downpour this afternoon because it has set the team back and they were denied the opportunity to fix the rear traction problem that Bautista was having here and the CRT boys didn't get the chance to find a set-up here for Pirro. All that work has been put off until tomorrow so hopefully we get the weather we need to complete it.”
Good first impressions for Edwards at Sepang
The first impressions at Sepang are definitely positive for the NGM Mobile Forward Racing Team and Colin Edwards. The morning session proved to be the only productive session due to the afternoon rain. The American rider had already tested here during the winter and confirms his good feeling with his Suter- BMW by being right behind the De Puniet – Espargaro duo.
Satisfying lap times for the Texan rider; at only three tenths from the top CRT bike. A gap that could have been narrowed during the FP2 if the rain did not interfered during the session.
Colin Edwards - 5
“We tested here at the beginning of the year a couple of times, the bike is a little bit different obviously since then, completely different electronics package that what we’ve finished on. Spent this morning trying to understanding if we were in the ballpark or not, bike setting obviously felt rigid this morning; we are going to play around with it and soften it up a little bit. This afternoon it rained so it was kind of a waste, we couldn’t get much done.”
Sergio Verbena – Crew Chief
“We started off today’s first practice at only a few tenths from the best CRT. This is probably the best beginning of a GP weekend so far this season. This winter we tested here and that allowed us to have the data for the setup. We had to work on a few things this afternoon but due tot he rain we were not able to.”
FOURTH LAP TIME FOR ROLFO IN FP2 ON DAMP TRACK AT SEPANG
The Grand Prix of Malaysia, the sixteenth event of 2012 for the MotoGP class, kicked off today, with the first two free practice sessions.
Rolfo and his technicians took advantage of the session of the morning to gather all the important data regarding the performance of the ART machine on the track of Sepang, allowing Roberto to keep progressing in a consistent way, during his second GP on top of a CRT bike.
Not too long before the session of the afternoon, a short rain shower fell and therefore the track was initially wet, which allowed the rider and his technicians to try out some basic options for bad weather. Roberto ended the session with the fourth lap time, completing a total of nine laps.
Roberto Rolfo #84 - 4th with 2'13.216
“I’m quite happy with how these two sessions went today. We managed to improve our performance in the distance, when this morning the track was dry we decided to work in a different way from the GP of Japan. Now that I know the bike better, we focused on working on the race rhythm, in order to be consistent and manage not to struggle when we get halfway through the race. The situation is positive, because I’m dealing with the bike better and better, time after time. For us the session of the afternoon was very useful as well, with damp track in few points, so that we managed to understand the reactions of the ART machine in such conditions. We used a slick tyre at the right moment, so it was a good session. All that will be useful to be ready for Sunday and keep making progress.”
Pedrosa quickest in sultry Sepang practice
Round 16: Malaysian Grand Prix – Free Practice One and Two
Sepang, Friday 19 October 2012
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Hard, Extra-Hard. Rear: Medium (Symmetric), Hard (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Hard (Main), Soft (Alternative)
Weather: FP1 - Dry. Ambient 30-32°C; Track 38-41°C (Bridgestone measurement)
FP2 - Wet. Ambient 29-30°C; Track 36-39°C (Bridgestone measurement)
Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa continued his rampant form by setting the pace on day one at Sepang with the Spaniard clocking a time of 2’01.621 in the first free practice session.
Pedrosa’s benchmark time was 0.152 seconds ahead of teammate Casey Stoner on a good day for the Repsol Honda team. Third fastest today was current championship leader Jorge Lorenzo on the Yamaha Factory Racing M1 with the top three riders achieving their best times on the combination of the softer option slicks front and rear.
As is often the case for the first session of the weekend, most riders selected the softer option slicks for FP1 to assess track conditions. Track temperatures reached a peak of 41°C in the morning practice, though the grip level of the circuit was reported to be lower than expected, so most riders didn’t evaluate the harder slick options today. FP2 was declared wet after a downpour minutes before the start of the session with only thirteen riders taking part and on a drying track, Avintia Blusens’ Ivan Silva was fastest in the second practice setting a time of 2’10.602 on slicks.
Sepang’s notoriously unsettled weather means there is a strong possibility of further rainfall tomorrow and Sunday.
Masao Azuma – Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
“We had one good session this morning which allowed teams to find a basic setup, but this afternoon’s rain meant there was little action on track. The rain was enough to dampen the track for FP2 but then stopped suddenly so we had standing water in turns two and three with the rest of the track dry, making conditions difficult for riders. Hardly any riders evaluated the harder slick options today and I expect many will try the harder front slick tomorrow to see what advantage it gives in the two extreme braking zones here.”