Press releases previewing this weekend's Malaysian MotoGP round from the teams and Michelin:
The Repsol Honda Team heads to Sepang for 2016’s penultimate race
After enjoying the enthusiastic embrace of the Repsol Honda Team’s Indonesian fans during a visit to Jakarta on Tuesday, 2016 World Champion Marc Marquez has flown to Sepang for the Malaysia GP, the last race of the triple-header and the penultimate round of the season.
Sepang International Circuit is very well known by MotoGP riders because the first pre-season tests traditionally take pace there, but this year the circuit underwent a major renovation between February and May. The resurfacing and upgrading project involved the entire 5.543 km track; while the paddock facilities also have been renovated.
Marquez has been victorious at Sepang in 2014 (MotoGP) and 2010 (125cc), and he was second in 2013 (MotoGP).
Meanwhile, Dani Pedrosa, who won here last year, is recovering from the right-collarbone fracture he sustained during FP2 in Japan, and from the subsequent operation that he underwent in Barcelona. On Monday he had a check-up that showed the fracture to his collarbone is healing well, as are his right fibula and the fourth metatarsal on his left foot, which he also fractured. While Dani continues his rehab at home, 2009 250cc World Champion and Honda tester Hiroshi Aoyama, who has won twice at Sepang (2007, 2009 in 250cc), will replace him in Malaysia.
2016 MotoGP World Champion - 273 points
“In Australia we tried to do a great race, but although we ultimately weren’t successful, we always look at the positives. In this case, I once again learned something and I’ll be more careful in similar situations in the future. When you feel good and are really enjoying the riding, the extra confidence you feel isn’t easy to control, but we’ll try. Now we are in Sepang, a track where we always test in February and therefore we know very well. Anyway, when we came here for the winter test, we were still struggling to find our direction with bike set-up. Moreover, soon after that test, they completely resurfaced the track. Therefore, we must wait and see how we will be able to manage this weekend. I’m very curious about the track, to see how much smoother the surface is now and how much faster it will allow us to lap.”
Championship Standing: 27th - 1 point
“I'm very glad to have the chance to ride for the Repsol Honda Team again, as in Japan it was a bit challenging to start Saturday morning from FP3, to adapt to the bike and to try and find my rhythm. I hope this time things will work out well and I can find a good feeling with the bike since the beginning. All of us wish for Dani coming back soon, but until he is recovered I’ll do my best for Honda and for the Repsol Honda Team. Tuesday was my 35th birthday and I’m simply happy to be here in Malaysia, which is a country I particularly like and I look forward to enjoy racing at the Sepang Circuit.”
Santi Hernandez and Ramon Aurin reveal the secrets of Sepang
The penultimate round of the 2016 MotoGP World Championship, the Malaysian GP, takes place at one of the most successful circuits for the Repsol Honda Team –who have won there on each of the last four visits.
This weekend, the MotoGP World Championship heads to the Sepang International Circuit –the very same place that held the first test of 2016, back in February. Almost eight months on, the Repsol Honda Team return to Malaysia with Marc Marquez as World Champion. The Spaniard has previously won at the track in 2014. Sepang is notorious for its highly demanding nature, due to its high temperatures and humidity. The Malaysian GP is the last race of the flyaway rounds, and the last before the season finale in Valencia on November 13th.
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Make For Malaysian Matchup
The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team is ready to turn up the heat as it heads to the Sepang International Circuit for the Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix, the last of the triple back-to-back races that mark the final push to the end of the season before the ultimate round in Valencia.
After a brilliant catch-up race by Valentino Rossi last weekend, the nine-time World Champion is impatient to meet his fans on the Malaysian track, which is one of his favourites on the calendar. The Doctor hopes to again finish on the podium this weekend to reconfirm his status as the current rider with the most premier class wins at the Malaysian circuit. The Italian snatched victory in 2001, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010, secured second place 2002, 2005 and 2014 and third place in 2009 and 2015.
Jorge Lorenzo is also looking forward to get back into action this weekend, this time with warmer temperatures. The Mallorcan has often expressed that he thoroughly enjoys the Sepang track. He hopes the resurfacing of the circuit combined with his smooth riding style will give him the edge he needs to claim his first premier class MotoGP victory there, having come close to the win last year. Lorenzo climbed the Malaysian premier class podium on five occasions, claiming second place in 2012 and 2015 and third place in 2010, 2013 and 2014.
The Sepang International Circuit held its first Grand Prix in 1999 and has been on the MotoGP calendar ever since. The track provides exciting racing thanks to a mixture of slow and medium to high-speed corners (five left and ten right) and two long straights, the longest measuring 920m, providing big challenges in bike set-up. The 5.5 km track is also testing for the riders, as it has one of the longest laps of the MotoGP season, which has to be completed in extremely hot and humid conditions.
Massimo Meregalli - Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
"We go now to Malaysia to start the last overseas race of the season. I am positive for Sepang, I think this is going to be quite good for us. The circuit has been resurfaced, which is challenging for the tyres, and it looks like there are no bumps, which the riders will appreciate. The last corner is off-camber, so it will be very particular, especially as this is a place where the riders are used to overtaking and it might be easy for them to make mistakes. Having good weather will be important and also the riders' physical condition can play a huge part in the race with the hot temperatures that we experience here so often. After two challenging weekends, for sure for the next rounds we would like to get some victories to finish the 2016 season in the best way, so that will be our objective."
Championship: 2nd, 216 points
"Sepang is one of my favourite tracks. I like it a lot, but it's also one of the most difficult races of the season due to the weather. It is always very hot and you must always be very careful with what you eat and drink. The weekend in Malaysia is very demanding physically, but I'm in good shape. The weekend on Phillip Island was very complicated but in the end we did a good race and I'm happy for that. I hope that in Malaysia we can be able to work well again from the first practice. I would like to make it a good race and go to the podium another time."
Championship: 3rd, 192 points
"The result in Phillip Island was unexpected for me. We struggle too much in these types of condition and I was not able to ride the way I wanted to. The temperature was too cold and that is why I suffered a lot, it was difficult to warm up the tyres. Sepang is a very different track. We know the layout pretty well because usually we test there a lot of times, but this season something has changed. The asphalt is new and will be different from what we checked out during the preseason. I'm not expecting any issues with the tyre temperature this weekend because of the Malaysian heat so I'm going to try to fight for the podium again."
VIÑALES & ESPARGARÓ SET FOR SEPANG PENULTIMATE RACE
Team Suzuki Press Office – October 26.
The Malaysian circuit of Sepang awaits the MotoGP™ riders for the penultimate round of the Championship this weekend.
Team SUZUKI ECSTAR riders Maverick Viñales and Aleix Espargaró have arrived in Malaysia with enthusiasm, in particular Viñales, who is still filled with positive feelings from his recent podiums aboard the GSX-RR in Motegi and Phillip Island. Despite the weekend in Australia proving difficult because of the weather conditions, his third position has given the young Spaniard confidence for the upcoming race.
Espargaró too has strong and positive feelings following his increased competitiveness that he has found in recent races. In Australia, the Spaniard was unlucky to crash when he was fighting for a podium position in the closing stages.
The Sepang International Circuit has been recently updated with new tarmac and slight modifications in the banking of some corners and this is expected to increase the grip, which will require the teams to make some updates to their previous circuit data.
The race is expected to be tough on everyone due to the high temperatures and humidity that are typical of the area and is extremely demanding for the riders. With four slow corners following two long straights and 10 medium-to-high-speed corners, the wide track is particularly favourable for overtaking manoeuvres, but will also put a lot of stress on the engines. It is 5.5 km (3.44 miles) in length, which makes it one of the longest laps in the MotoGP™ calendar, with the main straight measuring 920 metres (3018.37 ft).
“The Malaysian circuit is one of those where I’ve always found myself comfortable and confident, it’s a very hard climate and is very demanding for the machines as the power is very important. Compared to last year, our performances with the engine and the seamless gearbox have improved a lot, therefore I’m expecting to be competitive. In the February test, I had positive results and the latest successes make me think that we have a good chance to be competitive here. We will have to take care of the rear tyre, because the Malaysian hot temperatures are very stressful for the tyre and this could affect the traction, which is one of the aspects we are mostly working on. However, the circuit has received some updates in the tarmac recently so I’m curious to see how the grip has changed; hopefully will be better for us. We have to keep an eye on the championship now, the maths say we can still aim for third place so I’ve set this as an objective; it won’t be easy but we will try to achieve it.”
“This is a track I like, it’s very demanding for the riders and the machines because of its layout and the hot and humid climate, but we have already tested here in February and the results were positive. The weather forecast is not positive for the weekend, but I hope they are wrong. A dry race would be preferable for me, and I hope we can keep the positive progress we’ve made in the last races. Although we haven’t harvested the deserved results, I’ve been fighting a lot for the podium positions, which is a sign that we have improved. I am still missing an outstanding result and I’ll do my best to seize the last two chances we have to get one.”
Andrea Iannone returns to action alongside Andrea Dovizioso in the Ducati Team for the Shell Malaysia GP at Sepang
The Ducati Team has arrived in Malaysia for the third event in the challenging series of three end-of-season overseas rounds, which will see the MotoGP teams notch up about 35,000 km of flight time in less than one month.
The Malaysian round of the championship sees a return to action for Andrea Iannone, who will once again line up with his usual team-mate Andrea Dovizioso after an absence that has lasted since the first session of Friday free practice at Aragòn. The rider from Vasto, who picked up a T3 vertebra fracture in the first session of free practice at the Misano round, has been forced to miss four races. Iannone arrived in Malaysia on Tuesday and, despite the fact that he admits he is still not at 100% fitness, he is ready to step onto his Desmosedici GP at Sepang, after being replaced by Hector Barbera in Japan and in Australia.
The penultimate round of the 2016 season takes place at the Sepang International Circuit, a track that most of the riders like, and which can boast a series of characteristics that make it ideal for modern-day MotoGP bikes: long straights, a wide track surface and numerous overtaking points. All the teams came to Malaysia for the IRTA test in February, but as well as the usual hot sticky weather in the tropical country over the weekend riders will also have to deal with other unknown factors such as the recent resurfacing of the whole track, with several modifications to the run-off areas and the replacement of four new kerbs.
At Sepang the Ducati Team has won three times thanks to Loris Capirossi and Casey Stoner. In MotoGP Andrea Dovizioso has stepped onto the podium in Malaysia twice, the last time in 2010, in his seven races there. Last year “Dovi” retired following a crash on lap 11 after qualifying in seventh for the race. Andrea Iannone will start the Malaysian race for just the third time in MotoGP. Last year the rider from Abruzzo started from the second row after qualifying sixth, but in the race he had a technical problem that brought about his retirement on lap 2.
With two rounds remaining until the end of the championship, Dovizioso lies seventh in the standings with 137 points, while Iannone is in ninth with 96 points.
The Sepang weekend schedule gets underway on Friday morning with the first session of free practice at 9.55 am (03.55 CET) while the 20-lap race is scheduled for Sunday at 3 pm local time (08.00 CET).
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 7th (137 points)
“We come to Malaysia very satisfied with fourth place at Phillip Island. Sepang is one of my favourite tracks and this year, with the new asphalt and the banking modified in several corners it will surely be more interesting and fascinating. As always we will have to understand how the bike and above all the tyres will behave with all these changes, but I’ve always gone well at Sepang and so I can’t wait to get out on track.”
Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team #29) – 9th (96 points)
“I’m very happy to finally be able to return to the track, and I hope it will be a positive weekend for us, even though I know that it won’t be easy because my back is still not quite right. In any case I decided to return to racing here at Sepang, also because it’s quite a struggle for me to sit at home and watch the races on TV and I was desperate to get back: for Ducati, for myself and for all my fans who always support me. I hope to be immediately fast and competitive, even though for sure I will have to understand my condition, my possibilities and my speed. I’m keeping my fingers crossed but we are returning to the track with the aim of obtaining some good results.”
The Sepang Circuit
The Sepang International Circuit, situated about 50 km south of Kuala Lumpur, is one of the best and most spectacular tracks in the world. It was constructed at the heart of a 2,300 acre complex which also houses a hotel, a shopping centre, a golf course and other sports facilities. It was built in just 14 months at a cost of £50m and sets the standards for racetracks worldwide. With four slow corners following two long straights and ten medium to high-speed curves, the wide track provides plenty of room for overtaking and full throttle. Intense heat and humidity provide extra problems when racing at this circuit, which is one of the longest on the calendar.
Fastest Lap: Pedrosa (Honda), 1’59.053 (167.6 km/h) – 2015
Circuit Record: Lorenzo (Yamaha), 2’00.606 (165.4 km/h) – 2014
Best Pole: Pedrosa (Honda), 1’59.053 (167.6 km/h) – 2015
Top Speed: Iannone (Ducati), 339.6 km/h – 2015
Track Length: 5.5 km
Race Distance: 20 laps (110.9 km)
Corners: 15 (5 left, 10 right)
Race Start: 15.00 (08.00 CET)
MOTOGP ARRIVES AT THE LAST STOP ON THE "TRIPLE HEADER" TOUR FOR APRILIA
BRADL AND BAUTISTA TAKE ON SEPANG - AND THE UNKNOWN OF THE NEW ASPHALT - WITH AN IMPROVING RS-GP
The MotoGP teams are about to face the third and final race of the long intercontinental tour. After Japan and Australia, now it is Malaysia's turn, on the revamped Sepang International Circuit. Many things have changed, from the asphalt to the configuration of some corners, changes that the riders and teams will need to be able to interpret from the first practice sessions.
The Aprilia Racing Team Gresini has come through the difficult Australian challenge, managing to finish the race in the points with both riders, despite a weekend that was complicated by the weather. In Malaysia, a track where Stefan Bradl took his best result of last season with a tenth place finish, the RS-GP machines are aiming to continue the upward trend of the latter half of the season where the bikes from Noale have improved in placement and performance, but also in qualifying.
ROMANO ALBESIANO - APRILIA RACING MANAGER
“The Sepang track is very demanding and complete, with long straights, decisive braking sections and long, leaning and accelerating corners. It will be an excellent test bench to further develop the RS-GP, with the unknown of the resurfacing that we will analyse once we are on the track. We will be bringing an engine with new specs here that should improve our performance. The team is ready for another positive race, with the goal of finishing once again in the top ten”.
FAUSTO GRESINI - TEAM MANAGER
“The overall results of this long, extra-European tour can be considered decidedly positive so far. In Japan, Bautista finished seventh, which is his best result of the season, and in Australia, despite the difficult weather conditions that kept us from lapping consistently during practice, Bradl rode with determination in the battle for eighth place. We are going to Sepang confident that we can bring home another positive team result. As always, the Malaysian round promises to be difficult because of the great heat. In any case, we are confident that we will be able to do a good job”.
“Finally, a bit of heat after the low temperatures in Australia. We will see how things go on the track. It has been resurfaced, so we will have to assess grip conditions. I would like to have the same sensations as at Aragón and Motegi, continuing our development path with the RS-GP. The weekend in Australia was not an easy one, but I am sure that we will be back at our levels in Sepang”.
“The big question mark going to Sepang is the new asphalt. We are all going to the track without information on the conditions. Personally, I hope that we find good grip. I think everyone is hoping for that after the Australian race. I like the track a lot. Last year I had my best race of the season here, so I can't wait to get onto the race weekend”.
Determined Tech3 duo head to Sepang ready to face final flyaway event
Monster Yamaha Tech3 team riders Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith confidently look on to the forthcoming Malaysian GP where they fully intend to round up the third consecutive flyaway Grand Prix with two strong results. The pioneering Sepang International Circuit will hold the penultimate event of the 2016 MotoGP World Championship this Sunday with a large number of enthusiastic fans expected to witness the action on track, after almost 89, 000 people attended race day last year.
Pol Espargaro aims to extend his competitive form in the triple back-to-back GP’s by completing the Malaysian round in a top tier position aboard his Yamaha YZR-M1. The young Spaniard comes off the back of a notable showing in Australia, where he qualified on the front row and finished the sprint in 5th. Therefore, on Sunday he will once again be gunning to clinch the top satellite honours in what will be a demanding 20-lap sprint.
Meanwhile, Bradley Smith targets a solid result in Malaysia after exceeding expectations at Phillip Island by completing the race in 8th after a heroic ride, despite still suffering with a knee injury. The British star, who is approaching full fitness, intends to wrestle his MotoGP bike around the 5.5-kilometre circuit and end the weekend with another impressive performance.
Championship: 8th Points: 117
"Next up is Sepang and I am fired up for the challenge, plus I hope to continue my good form during the flyaway GP’s as the season draws to a close. In all honesty, the Malaysian circuit is not one of my favourites because everyone knows every detail as we have ridden it so many times during the winter tests, so I feel like the rider can’t really make a big difference. In addition, the factory teams have a huge amount of data so the distance between them and the satellite guys is usually quite significant. However, I also have positive memories of this track as I scored four podium finishes there over the last 7 years. Plus the circuit has been resurfaced since the winter tests and hopefully we will have some surprises with the Michelin tyres so I remain optimistic about my chances. In any case, I will do my absolute best at this GP, as always, before we head back to my home country for the season finale in Valencia."
Championship: 17th Points: 53
"We know that the Malaysian Grand Prix is always challenging, not only with the heat and the humidity, but also because the track is very physically demanding as there are a lot of corners and hard braking areas. We are coming off the back of two consecutive MotoGP weekends and this one will be the third in succession yet, it’s a circuit that I do like, and of course, I am looking forward to riding it. I’ve got some good memories of Sepang, such as last year where I finished fourth in the GP. With regards to my injury, I feel like my knee is getting stronger all the time, so we’ll see how I do in the challenging conditions but I am upbeat. Right now, we have found a solid balance with the bike and I am closing in on full fitness, so let’s try to keep the momentum and we will take the positives from the Australia weekend in order to be ready for the heat of Sepang."
Hervé Poncharal - Team manager:
“Now the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team head to Sepang, which is the last of the back to back races. These three events are always quite tough for the team, the crew, but especially for the riders and I think everyone is looking forward to having a short rest in Malaysia. The positive thing about this long trip is that Bradley came back in Japan and both Motegi and Phillip Island were quite good to him. His condition is improving and he is almost back to his previous level before the nasty injury. Meanwhile, Pol is pushing non-stop and enjoying himself on the bike, therefore it’s clear to see that they both want to end the flyaway GP’s on a high note. All the riders know Sepang very well because they have tested there so many times, but Yamaha has always done an impressive job at this track, so hopefully we can repeat the performances from Australia at Sepang. The Malaysian round always attracts so many people and the crowd is very enthusiastic. The motorcycle industry is booming in that part of the world, therefore, it is clearly an important Grand Prix and we need to continue our run of positive results there. In addition, the circuit has been resurfaced recently and we are looking forward to experiencing the new tarmac because we heard that the grip is a lot better and it is less bumpy, so it will be interesting to sample it soon.”
Miller and Rabat ready for stern Sepang test
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders Jack Miller and Tito Rabat will undergo the most demanding physical examination in the MotoGP World Championship this weekend when they encounter unforgiving heat and humidity at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia.
The penultimate round of the World Championship will be a complete contrast to the windy, cold and wet conditions that dominated proceedings last weekend in Australia.
Air temperatures frequently nudge an energy-sapping 40 degrees and track temperature can peak at well over 50 degrees during the Malaysian MotoGP weekend, which provides a unique challenge for both man and machine.
Miller heads to Kuala Lumpur looking to build on an excellent qualifying and race performance in his home round at Phillip Island.
The 21-year-old returned to the top 10 for the first time in Australia since the German Grand Prix in mid-July, which was a strong ride coming off the back of his best ever MotoGP qualifying result of fifth.
Miller took second place from pole position in the Moto3 category in Malaysia in 2014 and now free from injury he is optimistic he can fight for another top 10 in Sunday’s 20-lap race.
Super-fit Rabat is ready for face Malaysia’s physical challenge head on after finishing just one place outside of the points in Australia.
The Spaniard always relishes the prospect of racing at the Sepang International Circuit after he was victorious in Moto2 there in 2013 and a second place a year later saw him crowned Moto2 World Champion.
Rabat has tested Honda’s RC213V machine at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia, but information gathered during the three-day session in February could potentially be limited after the circuit was completely resurfaced with new asphalt and some turns undergoing modifications.
“I missed the winter test in Malaysia earlier this year but I don’t think it will be a major disadvantage because the track has changed a little and the surface is new. I’m happy there is new asphalt because the track was getting quite bumpy. I’m curious to see how some of the corners have changed but we should be able to figure it all out pretty quickly. Phillip Island was a solid race and hopefully I can have another exciting fight but with a better result.”
“Hopefully the weather is going to be better in Malaysia than Australia! I need to make some practice in dry conditions because we need to learn about the new surface and what the track is like now some corners are slightly different. I tested the MotoGP bike in Sepang back in February and now we need to understand how much information we can use for the set-up with the new asphalt. I will try and figure out quickly how to go fast with this bike and hopefully we can make a step forward.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“After the weather played such a significant role in Phillip Island, at least we can travel to Malaysia confident that it will be hotter and it can hopefully be a more normal weekend. It will be interesting to understand how the new surface impacts on the tyres and bike set-up and the layout is slightly different too. Jack will have taken a lot of confidence from his top 10 in Australia where he had a strong battle and I think he will be quickly up to speed and competitive, despite missing the pre-season test through injury. Tito has always been successful in Malaysia and we will never forget it was the track where he delivered the Moto2 title for us back in 2014. Hopefully he can regain some confidence and be competing for the points again.”
MALAYSIAN CHALLENGE COMPLETES FLYAWAY TRIPLE-HEADER FOR LCR HONDA
Following their stunning victory in Sunday’s Michelin® Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, the LCR Honda Team have already made the trip to Malaysia for the penultimate round of the MotoGP World Championship which will see Cal Crutchlow’s RC213V branded with Castrol colours.
With a fifth place in Japan and a second triumph of the season at Phillip Island, the Isle of Man rider is undoubtedly the form man in the series, having picked up 100 points in the last six races, more than any other rider.
The Sepang International Circuit is a familiar venue for all the riders, as it regularly hosts pre-season tests. It is widely accepted as the toughest place in the world to race motorcycles due to the tropical conditions, however this time there is an added challenge to the stifling heat and humidity after the track was resurfaced earlier this year, and some corners were reprofiled.
Crutchlow is one of the few riders to have actually ridden the new asphalt, back at a Honda and Michelin test in July, although testing time was limited due to rain and a damp surface so there is negligible advantage to be gained.
Practice for the Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix starts on Friday morning at 9.55am local time (3.55am GMT), with the 20-lap MotoGP race starting on Sunday at 3pm (8am GMT).
#35 Cal Crutchlow
“Obviously I’m really looking forward to this grand prix, we come here off a very big high in Phillip Island but we need to manage our expectations because Sepang will be a lot more difficult. Perhaps it will even be the most difficult race of the year.”
“When we came here to test earlier in the year the track was in really bad condition with water coming through, and it seems as though they might have been able to fix it, but I don’t know. There were only three bikes going round and we were quite slow, way off the lap times of last year. We know from World Superbike that their times were faster, so the grip will be good once it cleans up. We couldn’t really test so much, so we look forward to a good race weekend and hopefully it stays dry.”
“Honestly speaking I will give my 100 per cent for the LCR Honda Team as always. I still believe we can get a good result here and the the last round in Valencia and finish the season strongly.”
“This race an important one for the fans here too, whenever we come to Malaysia we get great support. We’ll see how it all goes tomorrow when we will start work on the setting, and then hope for a good race day come Sunday.”
Malaysia to host third and final 'flyaway' race
Monday, 24 October 2016 03:17
Pull&Bear Aspar riders Eugene Laverty and Yonny Hernández looking forward to Sepang date
The MotoGP World Championship heads to Malaysia this weekend for the third and final stop on the famous 'flyaway' long haul tour that takes in three races in as many weekends. The Malaysian Grand Prix is the penultimate opportunity to see the riders on track in 2016, a season that has seen Marc Márquez regain the title as Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo and now even Maverick Viñales fight it out for the runner-up spot. The Italian remains in the strongest position after his second place at Phillip Island last time out, which puts him on 216 points, 24 ahead of Lorenzo and 35 from Viñales – numbers that require Rossi simply to finish ahead of the pair to wrap up that coveted second spot in Sepang. There will be a new look to a circuit that the riders and teams are so familiar with this weekend, with remodelling having taken place in up to nine corners.
The Pull&Bear Aspar Team arrive in Malaysia feeling positive about their chances. Eugene Laverty could only manage fourteenth place at Phillip Island but his quest for a top ten championship position remains a possibility after Iannone, Barberá and Aleix Espargaró all missed out on the points in Australia. The Irishman is eleven points shy of his objective for the season and is confident of a strong showing in Malaysia, where the hard braking zones should suit the base set-up of his bike more than the flowing corners of Phillip Island. Laverty missed out on the points in both of his prior Grand Prix appearances at Sepang but he did take a podium in his last year on a Superbike. Yonny Hernández enjoyed a morale-boosting ride in Australia, where he was able to stay competitive to the end of the race. After working hard with his engineers to make the tyre last until the final lap, the Colombian is now looking forward to racing at a circuit where he scored his best result so far in MotoGP: seventh place in 2014.
Eugene Laverty: “I expect much better in Malaysia than we managed in Australia. The direction we have taken recently with this bike for my riding style is for hard braking and to push the front, so it will work well at Sepang. Phillip Island needed the opposite setting but we didn't get any dry track time so we were really in the wrong way, but this set-up already should work much better in Malaysia.”
Yonny Hernández: “We want to keep working hard with the bike in Malaysia to find a setting that works well in whatever conditions we find there, so that we can be in the fight for a good result. Sepang has been a good circuit for me in the past, I have had some of my best MotoGP results there, so I am looking forward to doing well again this weekend.”
Barbera and Baz ready to complete the triple in Malaysia
Avintia Racing team is ready to race this weekend in Malaysia and complete the flyaway triple-header schedule on a high note and the team will be back to its usual line-up. Hector Barbera comes back to the Avintia Racing pit following his adventure with the Ducati Team, replacing Andrea Iannone in the last two rounds. And although the results with the Desmosedici GP 2016 he will be riding next season were not as he expected, the experience was really positive and he was able to learn many useful things for the future.
Loris Baz heads Malaysia determined to complete the triple with a good result. The Avintia Racing French rider had some issues with his bike in Australia, that forced him to retire after just one lap, so at Sepang he is eager to finish the race, get some championship points and build some confidence ahead the final round of the season in Valencia.
Avintia Racing riders will find completely opposite conditions for this weekend in Malaysia. At Phillip Island they had to fight against the strong winds and rain, and this weekend at Sepang they will have to deal with extremely high temperatures and humidity. They will also find a completely renewed circuit, featuring new resurface, and re-profiling of several turns to improve the safety and increase the overtaking opportunities. MotoGP action at Sepang will start on Friday at 9:55 local time.
“Following the last two races and the great experience with Ducati, I come back home in Malaysia. I come back with my team, my bike and to normality. Sepang is a good track for me, I like the layout and I’ll be looking forward to finish the race and bring home a good result for the team. During the last few days I’ve reset my mind and I tried to get back the confidence and motivation, because I had high expectations for the last two races with Ducati and I crashed out in both of them. But I start from zero in Sepang and I’ll push hard to finish the last race of the triple in strong form.”
“To be honest I don’t really know what to expect from this weekend. After the disappointment in Australia, were I think we lost the chance of fighting for the points, I’m looking forward for a normal weekend at Sepang. The track is not on of my favourites, but as usual I’ll give my best and I’ll try to fight for a good result. I need to do more kilometres on the bike to get back the feeling from the beginning of the season. This year has been really tough for me, with several injuries that forced me to miss some races. So at Sepang I want to finish the race and if we can get some points, then it will be perfect.
MICHELIN TRAVELS TO SWELTERING SEPANG READY FOR THE PENULTIMATE RACE OF 2016
Michelin is on the way to Malaysia for the final race of the three-week long flyaway trip as the MotoGP™ circus heads towards the Sepang International Circuit for the penultimate round of the 2016 season and the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix.
Since Michelin tested at the 5,543m track in February the circuit has undergone a complete resurfacing, along with modifications to various parts of the layout. This will give a completely new feel to all riders and teams and present a fresh challenge for all, especially Michelin. A mid-season test was conducted with two test riders and this season’s double Grand Prix winner Cal Crutchlow, to enable the French tyre specialists and the manufacturers to understand the new surface. From the information gathered, Michelin has a range of three front MICHELIN Power Slick tyres in soft (white band), medium (no band) and hard (yellow band) compounds. These will be paired with two rear compounds available in medium (no band) and hard (yellow band), both tyres will feature an asymmetrical design with a harder rubber on the right shoulder of the tyre.
With the unpredictable hot and humid weather a principal feature of this race weekend, the need for rain tyres is important as tropical downpours are often experienced during the latter part of the day. Michelin has two versions of the MICHELIN Power Rain tyres for use in these conditions and will be available in soft (blue band) and medium (no band) compounds for both the front and rear. To complete the tyre range, the MICHELIN Power Inter (silver band) will also be available for changeable conditions and a drying track, but with the heat also a main part of Sepang’s challenge the surface does dry quickly following any rain.
The Sepang International Circuit was constructed in 1998 and made its MotoGP debut the following year. It is a built for speed and exciting racing, featuring a mix of 15 corners interlinked by two long straights either side of some of the most architecturally pleasing grandstands at any racetrack. Sepang is located about 50km south of Malaysia’s capital city Kuala Lumpur and near the country’s main airport.
Michelin and the MotoGP field takes to the track on Friday for two free practice sessions, with two more on the following day. Qualifying for the 20-lap race will take place on Saturday afternoon, with the main event getting underway at 15.00hrs local time (08.00hrs CET, 07.00hrs GMT/UTC) on Sunday 30th October.
Piero Taramasso – Manager of the Two-Wheel Motorsport Group:
“Sepang will signal the last fly-away race of the tour, but we won’t be taking things easy because it’s the end of the trip! The circuit has been re-surfaced since we tested there in February with the whole MotoGP field, so most of that data is irrelevant as to wear levels and grip consistency, but we did conduct a test there in mid-season so we have had a base to work on in readiness for this weekend. The circuit features two long straights and many hard-braking zones, so front-end stability is important at Sepang. There are also lots of long turns, so rear edge grip will be important. The track can also reach very high temperatures and we have had to take all those differences into consideration before deciding on this week’s tyre allocation. We know it will be another tough examination of our tyres, but that is why we are in MotoGP racing and the more we learn the better we will become.”
CRUTCHLOW ON THE CHARGE AT SOLD OUT SEPANG
Fresh from his superb win in Australia, Cal Crutchlow arrives in the heat and humidity of the sold out 3.444 miles Sepang circuit for the Shell Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday. The difference and conditions between Sepang and Phillip Island could not be a bigger contrast but the Isle of Man based Midlander is in the form of his life on the LCR Honda. He moved into sixth place in the championship after his second grand prix win of the year. He finished fifth last year in Malaysia and has tested the new Sepang surface this year.
Irishman Eugene Laverty makes his penultimate MotoGP™ appearance before returning to the World Superbike Championship. The 30 year old Pull and Bear Aspar Ducati rider wants to end his excellent season with a couple of good results to consolidate his 12th place in the championship. Gloucestershire’s Scott Redding is just two points behind him and the Octo Pramac Ducati rider is encouraged by his seventh place in Australia. Bradley Smith will be equally encouraged by his eighth at Phillip Island just six weeks after major surgery on his right knee following a crash. The Monster Tech3 rider was fourth last year and has had two 125 cc podium finishes.
Lincolnshire’s Sam Lowes slipped to fifth place in the Moto2™ Championship after crashing from the Federal Oil Gresini Kalex on the third lap in Australia. He will be looking for finishes in the final two rounds before joining MotoGP next season. Former Moto3™ World Champion Danny Kent was another Phillip Island faller and also seeks those two finishes.
Scotsman John McPhee was involved in a horrendous Moto3 accident in Australia and a decision about the fitness of the Oban –based Mahindra rider will be made later this week.
DID YOU KNOW
This is the 26th motorcycle grand prix event to be held in Malaysia and below are some facts and figures related to the event:
• The first Malaysian Grand Prix was held in 1991 and has taken place every year since, with three different venues having been used; Shah Alam, Johor and Sepang.
• The first Malaysian Grand Prix held at the Shah Alam circuit in 1991 saw a debut win in the premier-class for John Kocinski riding a Yamaha. Italian riders dominated the smaller classes with Luca Cadalora (Honda) winning the 250cc race and Loris Capirossi (Honda) in the 125cc class.
• The Shah Alam circuit hosted the event for a total of seven years before the Malaysian GP went to Johor for a single year in 1998. The first Malaysian GP to be held at Sepang was in 1999 and this will be the 18th time that Sepang has hosted the event.
• Honda have had five victories at the Sepang circuit in the MotoGP era, including for the last four years - three wins for Dani Pedrosa and one for Marc Marquez.
• Yamaha have also had five MotoGP wins at Sepang, the last of which was with Valentino Rossi on-board in 2010, which was also the last time that a non-Spanish rider won in the MotoGP class at Sepang.
• Ducati have taken three MotoGP victories in Sepang, the last being in 2009 with Casey Stoner. Since Stoner’s win in 2009 the best result for Ducati at Sepang is fourth in 2012 with Nicky Hayden.
• The best result for Suzuki at Sepang in the MotoGP era is fifth in 2010 with Alvaro Bautista.
• The most successful rider at the Sepang circuit is Valentino Rossi with six GP wins (1 x 500cc, 5 x MotoGP). The next most successful, with five wins is Dani Pedrosa (1 x 125cc, 1 x 250cc, 3 x MotoGP).
CAL CRUTCHLOW TAKES SECOND MOTOGP WIN
Cal Crutchlow’s has again made a big impression on the record books by taking his second win of 2016 at the Australian Grand Prix:
• The Australian win is the first in a dry MotoGP™ race by an Independent Team rider since Toni Elias won the 2006 Portuguese Grand Prix at Estoril.
• Crutchlow is the first British rider to take more than a single premier-class grand prix win in a season since Barry Sheene won three 500cc GP races in 1979.
• He is the first Independent Team rider to win more than a single race in a season since Marc Melandri won three times in the 2006 season.
• It is the first time since 2006 that a rider other than Stoner, Marquez, Pedrosa, Lorenzo and Rossi, has taken two or more MotoGP race victories in a single season.
• His win gives Crutchlow a 24 point advantage over Pol Espargaro in the battle for top Independent Rider Championship and if he finishes in front of Espargaro in Sepang it will confirm Crutchlow the top Independent Team rider of 2016.
• Crutchlow has scored 121 points in the last eight races after picking up just 20 points in the first eight races of the year. The only rider to score a greater number of points over the last eight races is Marc Marquez with 128.
• He is the first rider to move to MotoGP from competing full-time in the World Superbike Championship to win more than one MotoGP race.
MARQUEZ DETERMINED TO TAKE THE HEAT IN SEPANG
World Champion Marc Marquez is determined to forget his Phillip Island mistake when he takes on the heat and humidity at the Shell Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang at the penultimate round of the MotoGP™ World Championship on Sunday.
The Repsol Honda rider was leading in Australia when he fell, just a week after capturing the world title with victory in Japan. The 23 year old Spaniard won at Sepang two years ago and the 125 cc race six years ago. With the title over, the big battle is for second place between the Movistar Yamaha team-mates Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo. Rossi’s second place in Australia has given him a 24 point advantage at the circuit where he has won six premier class races.
Maverick Vinales moved back into fourth place following his third place in Australia on the Ecstar Suzuki. The 21 year old Spaniard is also a race winner at Sepang in both Moto2 and Moto3 classes. Double 250 cc winner Hiroshi Aoyama will replace the injured Dani Pedrosa at Repsol Honda. Pedrosa is hoping to return in Valencia while Austrian Grand Prix winner Andrea Iannone is hoping to return on the factory Ducati in Malaysia after missing the last four races.
Two wins in a row have given Swiss riders and former 125 cc World Champion Tom Luthi a chance of the Moto2™ World title. He won in Malaysia five years ago and now trails current World Champion Johan Zarco by 22 points with two rounds remaining. Frenchman Zarco is wobbling but won the Sepang race last year. Despite crashing in Australia Alex Rins is only three points behind Luthi with Franco Morbidelli moving into fourth after his second at Phillip Island.
South African Moto3™ World Champion Brad Binder has an amazing 130 point lead after his Australian win. The battle for second is much closer with so many top riders crashing in Australia. Japan winner Enea Bastianini is second, 21 points in front of Spaniard Jorge Navarro.
Friday October 28 BT Sport2 2.00 – 9.00 practice
Saturday October 29 BT Sport2 2.00 – 9.15 practice and qualifying.
Sunday October 30 BT Sport2 1.30 – 8.15 warm up and races.
Monday October 31 ITV 4 20.00 – 21.00 Highlights
Sunday October 30 TalkSPORT2 races.