Press releases from the MotoGP teams after practice on Friday:
Marquez sits out FP2 due to gastroenteritis after setting the quickest time in the morning
Gastroenteritis caused Marc Marquez to miss the FP2 session of the Malaysian Grand Prix today, as the 2016 World Champion returned to his hotel to rest and try to completely recover ahead of tomorrow’s qualifying day.
After setting the quickest time in the morning dry session and considering that a midday downpour had left the track in mixed conditions, Marc and the team agreed that it was best for him to sit out the FP2 session. As nobody was able to improve upon the morning lap times, Marc ended the day topping the combined free-practice times classification.
After spending the morning session adapting to the bike, Hiroshi Aoyama made the best of the wet/damp track to try out both the Michelin rain tyres and also the intermediate spec that he had never used before. The 2009 250cc world champion was 10th in the afternoon and 20th in the combined standing.
1st (Combined Practice Times)
“In the morning I didn’t feel very well - I’ve had gastroenteritis for the last two days - but I was able to go out and ride even though I was not at 100%. After the session and the effort I put in, I began feeling worse, because gastroenteritis also dehydrates you. Looking at the track conditions, we decided not to go out. Tomorrow we’ll try to improve and I think it has been good for me not go out there, and to instead save myself for Saturday and especially Sunday.”
10th (FP2) - 20th (Combined Practice Times)
“This morning I was able to work to get some feeling with the bike in the dry. In the end we tried a setting change on the second bike that I liked enough and that I felt more confident with, but I could only do three laps before the flag. I think we have a margin of improvement there. The plan was to continue working in that direction in the afternoon but as it rained, we instead tried out both the wet tyre options, the soft and medium. I had a good feeling with both and I was more competitive than in the morning. I also tried the intermediate spec, as I had never experienced them before. I hope that tomorrow we’ll have a bit more stable conditions and that we can work more on the bike setting.”
SUZUKI ECSTAR ON THE PACE BEFORE RAIN HITS SEPANG
Team Suzuki Press Office – October 28.
Maverick Viñales – 2nd (Combined)
Aleix Espargaró – 7th (Combined)
The opening free practice session at the Shell Malaysian MotoGP™ at Sepang today saw both Team SUZUKI ECSTAR riders Maverick Viñales and Aleix Espargaró on a strong pace aboard their Factory GSX-RRs.
Viñales was the quickest of the two, finishing the FP1 session in second place with a lap-time of 2'01.478, while Espargaró slotted into seventh, 300ths-of-a-second behind on 2'01.774.
The day was then affected by poor weather conditions and only in the morning could the riders could make some laps with a dry set-up, while in the afternoon’s FP2, the conditions changed from wet to dry. This slowed down the work for the crews, who couldn’t undertake all the work that was planned, but didn’t prevent the riders having a first taste of the new tarmac surface and the changes that have been done to the layout.
Both Viñales and Espargaró made strong progress in the morning session, finding themselves in the top positions for many laps. The lap-times are expected to drop significantly further tomorrow if the conditions are dry, but according to the weather forecast, the unstable conditions could prevail until Sunday’s race.
Davide Brivio – Team Manager:
“Fortunately this morning we had at least one session in dry conditions, therefore we were able to make some preliminary checks and – most importantly – to be in the provisionally top-10 with both riders. In the afternoon the rain made the track wet, it was about to dry but never turned into perfect conditions, so it was hard to manage the session. We decided to make some checks in the wet, and it was helpful because these conditions may be also be the same for the next two days; so also important to be ready for any sudden changes. For the moment, both riders feel good, although the day has been a little slow, but this morning they proved to be effective. We can only wait until tomorrow to see what the conditions are like and prepare for the race.”
“The day has been difficult because of the weather conditions. In the morning, we could only do the last three laps while pushing a little, and in the afternoon I didn’t take any risks as it was too easy to make a mistake and incur some damage. The early impressions are positive, I feel we could find a good set-up and my times improved positively. The new tarmac gives some more grip, but I couldn’t quite understand how it behaves under wet conditions; the previous surface dried very quickly, while this one looks like requiring longer. At least today we could test the durability of the tyre, as, with the softer tyre, I felt confident in terms of performance and we have almost covered the race distance so that tomorrow we will be on a good starting point already to complete the preparation for the race in terms of consistency. Also, it’s good that I could make the best lap with a worn tyre.”
“Today we couldn’t do so many laps in full dry conditions, so we still miss a lot of information and work. This morning, at the beginning of the session, I didn’t feel totally confident, but later on we managed to find a more comfortable set-up that allowed me to improve my lap-times and close the session in the top-10. Finally, the feeling is ok, we could also try the durability of the tyre and it looks ok to me, while in the afternoon, we spent our time trying to get the feeling in the wet with the new surface, checking our information. It was meaningless to take any risks in the wet conditions, so we only verified the base set-up in order to have some information for tomorrow in case of variable conditions again.”
Andrea Iannone fourth in free practice, Andrea Dovizioso fifteenth on day 1 of Shell Malaysia Grand Prix at Sepang
Andrea Iannone ended the first day of free practice action for the Shell Malaysia Grand Prix, which is being held this weekend at Sepang, in fourth place. The Ducati Team rider, who returned to the track for the first time since FP1 at Aragón, bolted on a new rear tyre towards the end of the morning session to record a lap time of 2’01.521. Iannone then opted not to go out in the afternoon session, which was held in wet conditions following a downpour that fell at the Malaysian circuit shortly before FP2.
Andrea Dovizioso used the same set of tyres all the way through the first session, the Italian setting a good time (2’02.561) on his last lap. Unfortunately the wet track surface in the afternoon session did not allow the Italian rider to improve his morning time and so Dovizioso ended the first day in fifteenth place.
Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team #29) – 2’01.521 (4th)
“It was a positive return: I expected to struggle a lot more, not really physically but in general in getting back up to speed, but already in the first practice session I had an excellent feeling with my bike and was feeling good. So in the end I am pleased with how this first day went after my long period away from the track. This afternoon we opted not to go out in the wet so as to avoid taking any unnecessary risks, but obviously if it continues to rain tomorrow we will start to get ready in case the race on Sunday is a wet one.”
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 2’02.561 (15th)
“It was a bit of a strange day and as expected the new track surface had an effect on today’s two sessions. This morning the track conditions weren’t good, but above all there were some wet patches that prevented us from doing the normal lines, so we didn’t focus on getting into the top 10 and didn’t fit a new tyre like nearly all the other riders. Even though conditions weren’t particularly great in the afternoon, we lapped as much as possible both with wet-weather and intermediate tyres, so as to be ready for tomorrow and Sunday in case it rains, seeing as here in Malaysia it’s always possible. My sensations are quite positive, but let’s wait for tomorrow to see if the track is dry and conditions improve as we put in more and more laps.”
Sound Start for Movistar Yamaha MotoGP at Damp Sepang Track
The Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix got underway today at the Sepang International Circuit in mixed conditions. Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo spent the morning and afternoon session working through a base set-up to try and get a feel for the drying track and its new tarmac.
During the sunny morning session Rossi positioned himself as a key protagonist from the get-go of the last 2016 overseas Grand Prix weekend. Despite damp patches on the drying track, the Doctor made solid improvements over the first practice and finished in fifth position with a best lap of 2'01.611s, 0.401s from first.
After some heavy rain over lunch, the afternoon session saw more of the same from the Italian. Back out on a wet and drying track, he swiftly took provisional second place on his third lap before focusing his attention on finding a good wet weather set-up in order to be fully prepared for all circumstances come Sunday. Rossi ran out of time to set a lap on slicks when a dry lined formed at the very end of the session. A 2'13.416s best lap, set before a late flurry of activity, saw the nine-time World Champion wrap up the FP2 in 13th place. However, as no riders were able to improve on their best laps due to the damp conditions, he held on to fifth in the combined time sheets.
Lorenzo also had a good first outing in Sepang. He used the first 45-minute session to find an optimum set-up for the Malaysian circuit. Having found a good rhythm on his first laps, it didn't take him long to ride his YZR-M1 to second place. He remained a top five contender, with a best lap of 2'02.013s until the end of the session, when some last-minute track action pushed him to tenth, 0.803s from the front.
The Mallorcan showed his eagerness to fight at the front in Sunday's race as he was one of the first riders to head out on track in FP2. He immediately made his mark with the provisional third fastest time, a position he held for most of the session until the times dropped at the end. Lorenzo returned to the box after ten laps and was one of only a few riders that didn't venture out on slicks in the final minutes of the session when a dry line had formed. He found himself in 16th place in the FP2, but finished the day tenth in the combined rankings.
Massimo Meregalli - Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
"This first day of practice went quite smoothly. Today was the first time riders got to ride on the new tarmac and try the modifications that were made to the circuit and their first experiences were quite positive on the grip that the new surface is providing. One aspect that we really have to take into consideration, especially due to the weather conditions, is that the new tarmac doesn't dry as fast as the Phillip Island circuit, as we saw one week ago. Unfortunately, the conditions we had today, where the track has never been fully dry even in FP1, didn't allow us to finalise the settings, but anyway it has been important to ride also in these mixed circumstances, because it looks like we might have similar conditions for the entire weekend. Based on the information we got today, we will try to prepare something for tomorrow's free practice, regardless if it will be dry or wet."
5th / 2'01.611 / 33 laps
"This morning we were able to ride in the full dry, but anyway there were some wet patches that were very difficult and you have to stay very concentrated and careful because it's quite dangerous. We hope for the next days we have some clear conditions, full dry or full wet. The first feeling is not so bad, but for sure after today's rain the track needed too much time to dry out."
10th / 2'02.013 / 17 laps
"Today was a strange day with mixed conditions. In the morning we rode on the new asphalt for the first time and it seems grippy. We couldn't stay with the quickest riders because at the last stint we put in the hardest tyres and I didn't have enough time to improve the lap time. In the afternoon with the wet track it was complicated, because the asphalt started to dry up and finally we decided to stay in the garage. It's difficult to draw conclusions from today."
A GOOD START FOR APRILIA AT SEPANG
PROMISING FEELING FOR ALVARO BAUTISTA AND STEFAN BRADL
It was a very positive first day of practice for Aprilia at Sepang. On the Malaysian track, the RS-GP machines ridden by Bautista and Bradl proved to be competitive straight away, despite the changing weather conditions and the lack of experience on the new asphalt.
In FP1, held on a perfectly dry track, Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl focused mainly on getting to know the layout without making too many changes in terms of settings and tyres. The initial feedback was good, with Alvaro ninth (2'02.011), just 8 tenths from the leader and Stefan eleventh with 2'02.164.
More positive signs arrived for Aprilia Racing Team Gresini in FP2, which began on a damp track with conditions improving during the session. Bautista showed his stuff straight away, staying solidly in the top positions and then finishing with the eleventh best time at 2'12.179. Bradl started off more cautiously, progressing consistently until finishing with the eighth best time thanks to the 2'10.283 he put on the sheets in the final stage of the session when he went out with intermediate tyres.
"This morning the track was not in perfect conditions. Some sections stayed damp, so we could not push to the limit. In any case, doing a good time was important since tomorrow we are expecting rain and it could be difficult to improve before Q2. In FP2 the track was drying out. Toward the end we could have used the intermediates, but I preferred continuing with the rain tyres. In view of the race, given the weather forecast, it is important to know how the tyres will perform when the conditions change. The sensations were good. I was able to be consistent and we gathered important information".
"Today was definitely conditioned by the weather. In FP1 it was not easy, with a lot of wet spots on the track. In the end, the times were good but I am sure that they can drop farther. In the afternoon, we started with the wet setup and then used the intermediates in the final moments. The two sessions were actually not particularly productive, but I can say that I feel good on the bike. I am hoping for more stable conditions so we can work better preparing for the race".
Miller masters mixed conditions in Malaysia
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Jack Miller’s ability to quickly master rapidly changing track conditions came to the fore again today when the Australian powered his Honda RC213V machine to the top of the timesheets in second practice at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia.
The 21-year-old set a morale-boosting best lap of 2’08.872 to head FP2 by a commanding 0.399s after a key late change to slick Michelin tyres proved decisive in fast improving conditions.
The second practice session started on a wet track after earlier heavy rain had soaked new asphalt at the 5.5km Sepang International Circuit. Typically hot and humid conditions saw the track dry sufficiently for Miller to gain what could be vital information on changing grip levels on a drying track if similar conditions occur for Sunday’s 20-lap race.
Miller’s excellent ride to top spot in FP2 was the perfect way to bounce back from a small crash at the radically revised turn 15 this morning, which is the most significant alteration in a €3m renovation of the Sepang International Circuit.
Tito Rabat ended the opening day of practice in the Far East in 19th place overall, but he was also able to lap inside the top 10 in the tricky conditions thrown up in FP2.
Rabat used the varying conditions in the second session to experiment with Michelin’s full range of tyre options.
As the track dried out, Rabat opted for a different strategy to Miller and he went out at the end of the second 45-minute session on Michelin’s intermediate tyres to build up his confidence before setting his fastest time of 2’11’297 on his only flying lap on slick rubber. That impressive late attack elevated the Spaniard into an encouraging ninth place.
Today’s mixed conditions did at least give Miller and Rabat the perfect opportunity to assess the Sepang International Circuit’s new surface using Michelin’s slick and rain tyres. They also got chance to tackle the heavily modified final turn, which is now a complex multi-line corner that falls away sharply with negative camber.
Jack Miller: 16th - 2’02’600
“This afternoon was all about timing because I was fortunate to put on the slick tyres just at the right time when the track was in its best condition. You still have to go out there and get the job done, so I’m happy to see my name at the top of the timesheets. It was also tricky in FP2 to pick out where the track was wet and dry because of the new surface, so you had to be pretty careful. This new surface doesn’t seem to dry as quickly as the old one but they’ve done a great job taking a lot of the bumps out because it feels really nice and smooth. I felt pretty comfortable in the dry this morning but I got caught out on my last flying lap at the revised final corner. It is quite a big change compared to the previous turn 15 and the off-camber caught me out. It’s a shame because I’m sure my potential was better than 16th this morning."
Tito Rabat: 19th - 2’03’108
“I was happy with my consistency in this morning’s FP1 and I think we did a very good job. It was good to have a dry session to understand the performance of the new surface and also to gauge the track modifications. It became a little more difficult this afternoon in the wet and I couldn’t find a great feeling with the bike. The track was improving all of the time and I was able to build up some confidence and right at the end of the session I was able to put in a decent lap time on intermediate tyres and then I put in my best time on slicks. We also got to understand how the new surface dries, so it wasn’t a bad second session. Hopefully we will have a dry track now for the remainder of the weekend because over these last two races I have been working a lot on my riding technique and today I felt we have been moving in the right direction. I could really feel a difference today and I am sure we can improve again if we get good weather.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“Once again the weather has played a crucial role today, but we have to be happy to see Jack on top of the timesheets at the end of FP2. We definitely made the right tyre choice at the right time for both Jack and Tito and we could see they were able to take advantage of the track at its driest to set their best pace. Both of them inside the top 10 is a good way to start the weekend off and we must ensure we build on this positive start to have them both fighting for a points finish in the race on Sunday.”
Tech3 pair power through day one in Malaysia
Monster Yamaha Tech3 team rider Bradley Smith began his round 17 campaign with a resolute display on the first day of action at the world famous Sepang International Circuit. The British star arrived in Malaysia after impressively concluding last Sunday's Australian GP in 8th, despite an ongoing knee injury and he wasted no time in immediately launching into action in Free Practice One where the riders first sampled the recently resurfaced track. Here, Smith finished less than a second back from third and the encouraging performance left him fired up for the afternoon. However, a typical Malaysian downpour disturbed play and meant that the asphalt was wet when FP2 started. This did not deter Smith, who continued his work as he set his fastest time in the final moments of the session, which left him in 4th. The 25 year old's personal best from FP1 sees him end the day in 14th, and the 2015 leading satellite rider now looks on to producing a determined ride tomorrow to claim a solid grid placement for Sunday's race.
Meanwhile, Pol Espargaro endured the tricky Malaysian weather to complete day one three positions behind his teammate in the combined standings. The 2013 Moto2 World Champion got straight to work when the opening session commenced as he took the initial steps in setting up his MotoGP bike for the Grand Prix. He gradually improved as the shakedown continued, before he set his fastest time on his final lap of 16, which resulted in the Spaniard ending the practice three-tenths behind his Monster Yamaha Tech3 team partner. When FP2 kicked off, Espargaro courageously took to the track as he collected valuable data for a wet setup, with rain being a constant possibility in Malaysia. He braved the damp conditions to post his personal best on his 9th lap before he headed back to the pit box and decided sit out the rest of the session. Espargaro now hopes for a dry FP3 practice in order to up his pace and speed into the top 10 to directly qualify for the final Q2 shootout.
14th / 2'02.484 / 25 laps
"Overall, the first day was quite positive at Sepang. This morning, I felt pretty good and we used both options of front tyres that are available; a medium compound and a hard. This harder tyre was new for me and I haven't used it this year so far, but it was good to complete some distance on it and I felt comfortable. I didn't change the rear tyre because I wanted to put almost a full race distance on it for Sunday, however, maybe this wasn't the best plan for today with the changeable weather. Yet, I always prefer to focus on my race setting, rather than putting in a fast lap on Friday, so now we have to hope for dry weather for FP3 tomorrow. This afternoon, the conditions were tricky and to be honest, completing too many laps with wet tyres didn't make sense because there wasn't a lot of water on the track. We didn't need to risk anything so we waited and then in the final stages I went out and it was good to assess these conditions because there is a chance that we may have to experience this sort of weather again this weekend. Anyway, tomorrow, we hope that we can push inside of the top ten and then go straight through to Q2."
17th / 2'02.732 / 26 laps
"To be honest, it almost feels like we didn't really ride today because the conditions and the weather made it tricky for us to evaluate our situation. This morning, the track was very dirty and there were also still some wet patches so we didn't have much of an opportunity to work out how the bike runs here, or how we are doing in comparison to the other riders. The new asphalt seems to be grippy in the dry conditions even if there are a few areas that take some time to dry. However, with regards to the dirty surface itself, the issue is that it becomes tricky when setting up the bike because it's hard to know if it's the tyres, the setting or the unclean track that is limiting us. With the rain, it's too much to expect the circuit to be a lot cleaner tomorrow, so it will be challenging. For the afternoon, it was one of those sessions that wasn't wet or dry, it was somewhere in between and there was not a lot of reason to go out. We hope that tomorrow morning will be dry so that we can cut our time and then go through to QP2. This morning, unfortunately, we selected the wrong compound for the final minutes which prevented us from improving our lap as much as we wanted to and this could be an issue due to the weather, however, we will do our best to fight for a good qualifying position tomorrow."
Hernández in Q2 contention after first day at Sepang
Friday, 28 October 2016 08:40
Pull&Bear Aspar Team rider in eighth position in first session as afternoon is hit by rain
The MotoGP riders tackled a new-look Sepang Circuit for the first time today with the track having undergone resurfacing and some changes to a number of corners, including the final one, since the last time they were here. The fastest lap time today was six tenths off the previous record here, set by Jorge Lorenzo in last year's race, with Marc Márquez (2'01.210) setting the pace this morning before missing the second session with gastroenteritis. Maverick Viñales and Scott Redding complete a virtual front row that was unchanged from the morning session with Jack Miller (2'08.872) fastest in the afternoon ahead of fellow Independent Team riders Cal Crutchlow, Héctor Barberá, Bradley Smith, Loris Baz and Scott Redding. Valentino Rossi could claim the runner-up spot in the championship this weekend and he was fifth fastest today with closest rival Jorge Lorenzo in tenth.
Pull&Bear Aspar rider Yonny Hernández made a strong start to the Malaysian Grand Prix, finishing the opening day in eighth position, just six tenths off the top thanks to his speed in the morning session. As rain hit the second free practice this afternoon Hernández adapted quickly to set the fastest time on wet tyres, giving the Colombian plenty of confidence regardless of the weather conditions during tomorrow's qualifying and Sunday's race. Eugene Laverty made a cautious start to the weekend as he built his speed around the remodelled circuit, avoiding unnecessary risks on a track that was not in the best conditions. The Irishman finished the day in eighteenth position but just a second outside the top ten.
8th Yonny Hernández 2.01.815 (23 laps): “In the first session in the dry we were very strong and I was able to set the eighth fastest time. That is very important because if it rains in the morning we will go straight into Q2. If not we will still be fighting for it. Our pace is good in the wet and in the dry. It was nice to be up there in the second session but we came in with ten minutes to go. I was fastest on wet tyres and if we had put some intermediates on we would have finished in the top three.”
18th Eugene Laverty 2.03.013 (25 laps): “The weather wasn't quite 'Phillip Island crazy' but it has been up and down today. Even this morning there were some wet parts on the track so I was being very careful. So far the new surface feels good; it is smooth and I am looking forward to getting some really dry laps tomorrow to test the potential of our package. I don't like so much the exit on the last turn, it is strange to have negative camber there, when I pick the bike up it's a strange feeling. I was changing the line more and more each lap. The most important thing is to be smooth on the exit because if you pick the bike up too quickly then it upsets the bike.”
Impressive 3rd for Scott. Petrux ends up 11th
Friday’s practices at the Sepang International Circuit finish with a fantastic third position for Scott Redding, who runs fast on the dry in FP1, exploiting the power of his Ducati Desmosedici GP. Danilo Petrucci ends up eleventh, but still proves to have a good feeling.
After becoming familiar with the new asphalt and the changes to the circuit's layout, Scott went on track with the soft-rear tire and in the last run of FP1 set a great lap-time (2'01.507, two tenths of a second behind Marquez’s fastest lap-time) even thanks to a stunning T2 (best chrono).
Also Danilo Petrucci made a strong start finding soon a good feeling with the rear-hard tire. In time attack, however, Petrux dind’t find the ideal conditions to be more incisive, finishing in 11th position, just 23 milliseconds from the Top 10 of Jorge Lorenzo.
The heavy rain that began to fall after FP1, then forced the riders to lap in wet conditions for most of FP2.
Both Scott and Petrux entered the track with rain tires lapping at a good pace. Only five minutes to go to the end of the session, the track conditions allowed the riders to go out with the slicks. Scott has made two laps, Petrux preferred not to risk it.
3rd - Scott Redding
I'm happy for what we did this morning. It was a particolar situation with a new asphalt, but also due to a very dirty track. That’s why I went out a bit “timid” but I felt that the feeling was growing lap by lap. I set a good lap-time with the soft rear tire and this gives me so much confidence. Then in the afternoon the conditions changed and it was impossible to improve. Now we have to wait and see which conditions we’ll find tomorrow.
11th - Danilo Petrucci
It was useless to go back on track at the end of FP2. But most of all I'm sorry to be out of the hypothetical Q2 only for 23 milliseconds. It would be a shame if tomorrow was wet because we were very fast. In Fp1 I started with the harder tire on the rear in order to save the soft. Then when I put the soft tire I preferred not to change the front and this was a mistake. I hope that tomorrow we’ll have dry conditions to try to gain direct access to the Q2.
Hector Barbera returns to his team and shines at Sepang
After his two-race-adventure with the official Ducati Team, Hector Barbera’s return to the Avintia Racing team could not have been better. In the morning in dry conditions, he just needed a couple of laps to get the feeling back on his Desmosedici GP14.2 and he was sixth in the timesheets at the end of the 45 minutes session. In the afternoon the track was completely wet after a tropical downpour and it was Loris Baz who took the lead. After topping the standings with Michelin rain tyres, Baz put on the intermediates and kept a fast pace that no other rider was able to match. But with 15 minutes left in the session, the track finally dried up and Barbera set the fastest lap, still on intermediates. It didn’t take long until Jack Miller and Cal Crutchlow improved his lap time again, using slick tyres in the last few minutes of FP2.
One of the positive sides of today’s first day of practice is that the Avintia Racing riders were able to test the new Sepang International Circuit surface in all conditions and with all possible Michelin tyre compounds and combinations. Now they are ready for whatever the weather brings this weekend.
Hector Barbera - 2'01.667 - P6
“To be honest, I did not know how my feeling would be after two races riding a different bike. But I got the feeling back with my bike immediately, exactly the same feeling from when I left it. We had a good start of the weekend and I was sixth in the morning. This afternoon in really tricky conditions we were third, so it definitely was a good comeback. The track has been resurfaced and now it is different. The grip is better and there are no bumps, but it needs to dry out quicker. For me the biggest change is turn 15. I like it, but at the same time it makes things difficult and the lap time is slightly slower. The most important thing is that we had a strong start and we can have a good weekend.”
Loris Baz - 2'04.623 - P21
“This morning I had the usual problems in the dry, I have no confidence. The worst part is that I can’t find the answer, so it is difficult. But this afternoon I immediately felt great in really strange conditions. I did quite a lot of laps on the intermediate Michelin tyres and I had some fun, which is something that did not happen since a long time. It was especially useful since it was the first time we used these tyres and they really worked. We have to wait and see what the weather will be like tomorrow, and the track conditions. It is always good to be in front, it is a boost for your motivation and it was also good for my team. At least I’ve been on TV for a while and this time not because of a crash…”
TRICKY FIRST DAY IN SEPANG FOR THE LCR HONDA TEAM
Challenging track conditions on the first day of the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang meant that it could be a tough weekend at the office for the premier class riders. Overnight rain had left the track damp in patches as Cal Crutchlow and the rest of the MotoGP field took to the circuit for the morning free practice session.
Crutchlow was regularly amongst the front runners in those early stages, but whereas the other riders fitted new tyres, the team’s plan meant they stayed on the same rubber they started with. The Brit finished the session in 13th place, which didn’t tell the true story of his pace.
Unfortunately, rain arrived at the track just a few minutes later, and when the riders went back out for a wet afternoon practice, there wasn’t enough time for the track to dry completely. Crutchlow did take a gamble by fitting slicks for the final few minutes, and although he set the second-fastest time of the session with his last lap, it was no quicker than in the morning.
The main concern for the LCR Honda Team will the forecast of more rain for much of Saturday. Currently being outside the top ten, this could well mean that for the second race in succession Crutchlow may have to take part in preliminary qualifying, with only two spots available for the final Q2. However, Crutchlow will be well aware of the fact that he won the last race in Australia from a similar position.
#35 Cal Crutchlow – 13th (2’02.334)
“Obviously today we are very disappointed to be outside the top ten, when I’m sure we have the pace to be in the top three. We didn’t change the tyre this morning and I was unable to go faster in my last run, because we were trying something for Honda that we had agreed to try. We made a bit of a tactical error and this afternoon was then wet. I went out with the slick to see if I was able to push, but it didn’t dry up enough.”
“Now it also looks like tomorrow morning will be wet so it’s going to be difficult to go directly into Q2 – where we should be. Let’s see what tomorrow brings. We have to remain positive and go through the motions with the team tonight to improve things on the bike and then we will see how qualifying goes.”