Press releases from the MotoGP teams after a wet qualifying at Sepang:
Andrea Dovizioso powers to a superb pole position for the Shell Malaysia Grand Prix at Sepang. Andrea Iannone qualifies sixth and starts the race from row 2
Andrea Dovizioso powered to a superb pole position today at Sepang, at the end of a Q2 qualifying session held on a wet track surface. The Italian rider set an excellent time of 2’11.511 on his first flying lap of the session, using a soft rear rain tyre. On returning to the box Dovizioso decided to switch to a hard rain tyre and went out again, managing to further improve his time on his final lap to end up with 2’11.485. Today’s pole was the fifth in Dovizioso’s MotoGP career, the second this year after Assen, and Ducati’s thirty-sixth in MotoGP.
Andrea Iannone will start from the second row of the grid for tomorrow’s race after qualifying in sixth place in Q2. The Italian, returning to the track after his incident at Misano, set a quickest time of 2’12.598 on his last lap of the session.
In this morning’s FP3 held on a dry track, both Ducati Team riders managed to place inside the top 10 and as a result went through directly into the afternoon’s Q2 session. Iannone set sixth quickest time in 2’00.395 while Andrea Dovizioso finished in eighth with a time of 2’00.723. The two Ducati Team men then went out for the decisive qualifying session after completing the thirty minutes of FP4 in the early afternoon, in which Dovizioso was fifth and Iannone twelfth.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 2’11.485 (1st)
“It was a really strange qualifying session, I reckon I was the only one to fit a soft rear tyre on the first run, and I wasn’t sure that I had made the right choice. Instead our strategy worked well because we were able to immediately set the best time, on my first lap, without even pushing that hard. Then I stopped to try the hard tyre and I didn’t think I could improve. Instead I managed to do so and I am really happy because I even think that with an extra lap I could have gone even faster.”
Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team #29) – 2’12.598 (6th)
“Today was a bit more complicated than yesterday and this morning I struggled a lot to improve my times and go quicker. In the afternoon, on the wet track, we were probably missing some information, such as using the harder tyre for more laps to make the most of its performance, because yesterday I didn’t take part in FP2 with the rain tyres. All in all however I am pleased I managed to qualify on row 2 with sixth quickest time, and I reckon I did a pretty good job, especially with these track conditions and in view of the fact that I am back after a gap of four races. Tomorrow we’ll see how it goes, for sure we don’t know what will happen.”
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Spurt to Double Front Row in Sepang Qualifying
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo made another step forward today, getting more familiar with the resurfaced Sepang International Circuit in various conditions ahead of tomorrow's Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix. The teammates wrapped up qualifying in second and third place respectively, taking their sixth double front row start of the season.
Rossi enjoyed the 15-minute qualifying heat today, despite the uncertain conditions on a wet track testing the rider skills to the limit. He was quick to exit pit lane and immediately put his head down to set a fast lap under a threatening sky. The Doctor set a first flying lap of 2'13.135s to take provisional pole position before being pushed back to second. On his next laps he improved his time but not his place and found himself lying in fourth.
As the last minutes counted down Rossi dug deep and delivered a scorching 2'11.828s lap to take provisional third, before a final hot lap of 2'11.731s moved him ahead of his teammate into second, 0.246s from pole.
Lorenzo shared a similar positive experience to his teammate. The Mallorcan was the first rider to head out on the damp track to lead the charge for pole position. His first lap, a 2'13.746s briefly put him in first place before other riders clocked their first times and pushed him back to fifth. He improved to second place with a 2'12.098s but was pushed back to third and although he set a new personal best lap on his third attempt, he remained in third place.
As the lap times began to tumble with three minutes remaining Lorenzo immediately took second with a 2'11.787s for second place. He tried to keep the pressure on, but overheated tyres held him back from attempting a perfect lap. His best time, however, was enough to take third on the grid, 0.302s from pole.
Massimo Meregalli - Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
"Today was a very positive day for us. Thanks to the dry session this morning and the wet session in the afternoon we have been able to test our settings for all conditions and the riders are quite satisfied, which showed during qualifying. Valentino and Jorge both did a very good job in an unusual qualifying session and it's great to see them both on the front row of the grid. We still have some work to do for tomorrow's warm-up because we still have some room to improve the bike in both the wet and the dry. The weather is very unpredictable and the weather forecasts predict all possible conditions, but we feel confident we can do a good job in all circumstances."
2nd / 2'11.731 / 7 laps
"It was a difficult session and completely different from normal. In qualifying you usually have two laps and after that another new tyre and another two laps. Today we had to start, try to not make any mistakes, put temperature into the tyres, but at the same time you have to push. Second place is very good. I feel comfortable, especially because we improved both the setting and the braking compared to the FP4. We have to work, but starting from the front row is very good."
3rd / 2'11.787 / 7 laps
"In Sepang, in the rain, I've always been fast, so it doesn't surprise me that this weekend I would be competitive in the rain, because the grip of the track is very good. Maybe I pushed a bit too much in the beginning. On some laps I could have slowed down to cool down the tyres to attack on the last lap, but I didn't do this, I just kept running and at the end the tyre was too hot to improve the last three or four tenths. Anyway it's a good position, third place in the rain, and I'm quite happy."
Marquez leads second row after wet QP in Malaysia, Hiroshi Aoyama in 17th
Marc Marquez bravely secured fourth place on the grid in a wet QP at the Sepang Circuit today, missing a front row start by a mere 87 thousandths of a second.
After sitting out FP2 on Friday due to stomach illness and despite not being at full strength today either, Marc returned to action in a dry FP3 session and improved his pace enough to set the second-best lap time and transfer directly to QP2. Afterward, he led the way in FP4, which took place soon after a heavy midday downpour and therefore in fully wet conditions.
Qualifying also was held on wet tyres, as the track hasn’t had time to dry off. Marc chose to go with the hard front and rear compounds and stayed out the whole session in order to have more chances to improve his lap times, but when was closing his flying lap in an expected front row position he ran slightly wide at turn 15, the final corner, and finally had to settle for fourth.
Hiroshi Aoyama set the seventh fastest lap time in a wet QP1, meaning that he will start tomorrow’s Malaysian GP from the sixth row in 17th position.
“Today has been a good day; I feel rather better than yesterday, thanks to the doctors, and that's important. I am gradually regaining strength and I’m sure tomorrow I will be better still. In the morning, in the dry, I felt good. In the afternoon, as we missed yesterday’s session in the wet, we felt it a little. However, in FP4 I felt pretty good, although for Q2 I still wanted to do better and for that reason we made a couple of changes to the setup – which didn’t end up working as we were hoping for. Anyway I think that in both dry and wet conditions we are ready to fight for the podium.”
“I had hoped the two sessions today would be dry but in the end, like yesterday, we had mixed conditions. In the dry we are a little less comfortable than in the wet, but in both cases I feel the same: I need some more confidence with the front. We will work to improve on this aspect, and for this we will try out some things in the warm-up. Today we have progressed from yesterday and tomorrow we will try to continue in this way to keep improving.”
SUZUKI ECSTAR QUALIFIES ON SEPANG 3RD ROW
Team Suzuki Press Office – October 29.
Aleix Espargaró – 7th
Maverick Viñales – 8th
Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s Aleix Espargaró and Maverick Viñales will start tomorrow’s Shell Malaysian MotoGP™ at Sepang from the third row following today’s final qualifying session.
Viñales, who set the fastest lap in the morning’s ‘dry’ FP3 and Espargaró – seventh in FP3 – spent most of the final ‘wet’ Q2 in strong second-row positions, but were pushed back in the final seconds of the session.
Espargaró’s progress allowed him to perform strongly in the morning, with consistent pace and effectiveness on the single lap time attack. He then struggled with the feeling in the afternoon, when the track had more water on the tarmac and lack of traction. Although he managed to stay close to the top, he had to step back to a third row starting position, even though his pace gives him strong hopes for the race tomorrow.
A strange feeling with the tyres affected Viñales’ performance in qualifying. He’d been very fast in the morning, and in FP4, where the wet conditions didn’t prevent him being consistently quick. But the situation changed for Q2 as he couldn’t find a proper feeling with the grip and wasn’t as fast as he expected.
Davide Brivio – Team Manager:
“Unfortunately, we haven’t harvested what we could, because once again rain came to modify the values on the field; I think we were in a good shape to aim for better positions with Maverick and Aleix. At the end of the day we will start in seventh and eighth, which is not bad if tomorrow the weather is good for us, which means either full wet or full dry. The important thing is to manage and capitalise today’s findings and deliver the riders effective machines, as recovering from third row is absolutely possible if we have a good consistency on the pace, as we’ve seen today.”
“At the end of the day I’m happy with our performance, as this morning in the dry I felt really good with the machine. We only had a little problem at the end of the session and I couldn’t exploit the very last run pushing as hard as I wanted to, but overall we had a good performance. Thinking about qualifying, I’m not in the position I wanted to be, but if I look at the last races, we have been struggling a lot more in the wet, so today’s performance means that we’ve made huge improvements and now we can be competitive. Maybe I could have done even better in qualifying but I made a little mistake which resulted in a small crash, therefore not being able to improve. But we also collected very important information and I think we are ready for a positive race.”
“Thinking of the FP4 I’m very happy with our set-up because my pace is very good, but then in qualifying I couldn’t find the same feeling with the grip and this resulted in the third row. It’s not what I was expecting, but we can still investigate what happened in qualifying to learn and take countermeasures. This morning in dry conditions I was very fast, and also with the pace I feel confident, which leaves me feeling pretty easy for tomorrow’s race. Of course, it’s not gonna’ be easy to start from the third row, I’ll have to push from the very beginning, but I feel very confident with the bike so a good start and a recovery is possible.”
CRUTCHLOW’S BIRTHDAY HEROICS SAVE SECOND-ROW START IN SEPANG
On the day of his 31st birthday, LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow salvaged a stunning second row start in treacherous conditions at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia, by picking the bike up after a crash to set the fifth-fastest time during qualifying (Best Independent Team Rider).
Earlier in the third free practice session, the double grand prix winner was unable to take advantage of a dry track to put himself directly into the qualifying final. He lost the front of his Honda RC213V at turn six on his fastest lap, damaging his left hand slightly in the crash.
With rain falling shortly before the final free practice, Crutchlow then looked in excellent form in the wet, setting the second quickest time of the half-hour, before advancing into Q2 with easily the fastest time in Q1, a 2’11.591.
As the track slowly dried for the qualifying final, the whole field including Crutchlow couldn’t generate the same speed with wet tyres. The Brit then crashed for a second time, but somehow managed to pick the damaged bike back up and improve his spot on the grid by a remarkable seven places.
The lap time from Q1 would actually have seen the LCR Honda man in second on the grid, but as it is Crutchlow will start from fifth, ahead of what will surely be a gruelling 20-lap Malaysian Grand Prix.
#35 Cal Crutchlow – 5th (2’12.558)
“I think today we salvaged a second-row position after a disastrous qualifying for me when I crashed in the really tricky conditions. Everybody was completely at the limit and the tyres weren’t working so well in the hotter conditions. In FP4 they were fantastic, then in the Q1 session they were getting worse and by Q2 worse again.”
“I made a mistake in Q2 by slipping off, and I think I did well to get back on the bike because the handlebar was totally bent and the brake lever completely pointing down. To ride the bike with the handlebar as bad as this and still improve the lap time was quite good, but a little dangerous, so I don’t plan on doing it again! I had to make sure I wasn’t 12th on the grid though.”
“Now we have to look forward to tomorrow, we have a good pace in the dry and a good pace in the rain too so, let’s see what happens.”
Rain hit qualifying for Miller and Rabat in Malaysia
A tropical downpour made track conditions treacherous for Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders Jack Miller and Tito Rabat in qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix.
The 5.5km Sepang International Circuit remained wet for the first qualifying session even though the rain had stopped, with Miller setting the 14th fastest time on his final flying lap.
Earlier the monsoon conditions had forced race officials to delay the FP4 and qualifying sessions.
Rain master Miller was impressively sixth on the timesheets in FP4 in full wet conditions with expectations he could progress through to the top 12 shootout in Q1.
However Miller was handicapped by a less than ideal set-up on his Honda RC213V and was disappointed to miss moving into Q2 by just 0.023s.
The Australian will start from the fifth row in tomorrow’s 20-lap race, round 17 of the MotoGP World Championship.
The rain only added to the challenge for Spanish rookie Rabat, who bravely faced the tricky and confidence-sapping conditions. He will start 21st on the grid tomorrow.
Jack Miller: 14th - 2'12.907
"It was a little disappointing, I pushed really hard but I struggled with the bike. We tried adjusting the set-up and the big problem is traction control coming onto the fast straights here, it was cutting the power too much. But I’m looking forward to the race and hopefully we can sort out the settings for both the dry and the wet and be ready for whatever the weather throws at us tomorrow.”
Tito Rabat: 21st - 2'15.894
"It has been a very difficult weekend so far and I am very disappointed to be in this position given that when the track was dry I was feeling much better. I have to try something to improve when the conditions are wet and slippery and hopefully I can do this in the race tomorrow.“
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
"I was expecting that Jack could move up into the second qualifying session but it appears that he was held back by the set-up that was chosen for his bike. This probably cost him any chance to go faster but we know how strong he can be if the race is wet. For Tito we understand that if it is not full wet or full dry he struggles in mixed conditions with little confidence in his riding or the tyres. Qualifying was a little frustrating for him given his performance in the earlier sessions.”
Espargaro to launch from the 4th row of the grid at the Malaysian GP
Monster Yamaha Tech3 team rider Pol Espargaro battled against the challenging weather conditions during the qualifying today at Sepang and will kick off tomorrow's race from 11th on the grid. The 25-year-old immediately got on the pace in the dry morning session and after completing 15 laps, his personal best left him in 9th, which allowed him to qualify for Q2. Yet, the unpredictable Malaysian weather struck again and a downpour occurred shortly before FP4 which caused this practice and both of the qualifying shootout sessions to be wet. Nevertheless, the Spaniard got straight to work in Q2, and here, he rolled the dice by entering the pits after one lap to change to the soft compound of wet rear tyre. Proceeding this, he returned to the track and pushed onwards as he dodged the rain before he finally met the chequered flag in 11th. Tomorrow, the 2013 Moto2 World Champion will seek to continue his impressive recent form in the second half of the season by fighting to finish as close as possible to the factory MotoGP bikes.
Meanwhile, Bradley Smith powered through the rain and will begin the 17th round of the 2016 World Championship from the 5th row of the grid after pulling off a relentless charge today. He began by completing the morning practice session in 14th, as he narrowly missed out on the cut off point for Q2 by a mere 0.177 of a second. Yet, later on, the determined 25-year-old commenced his Qualifying One campaign in the wet conditions and he built up his pace before eventually setting his quickest time that left him only 0.014 back from the QP2 qualification slots. This performance saw him seal 13th and now, Smith confidently targets a top ten result in tomorrow's race as he aims to round up the consecutive flyaway GP's with a third solid result despite still riding with a damaged knee.
11th / 2'13.707 / 7 laps
"To be honest, today we had to face quite a challenging day and the weather conditions didn't really help us improve our situation. This morning in the dry, I struggled a bit, even though the track was better in comparison to yesterday but, I never felt completely comfortable, plus the bike was lazy in acceleration. Then again, towards the end of the session, things seemed to work in a better way and I managed to ride a competitive lap which enabled me to pass through to QP2. Unfortunately, with FP4 being wet, we couldn't try the modifications that we believed would improve our situation in the dry, so I hope that there will be no rain in the warm up tomorrow so that we can assess these settings. Also in the wet, it took me quite a while to feel good on the bike, but the more laps that I got under my belt, the more my confidence grew. However, for some reason the bike seemed to be completely different in QP2, even if we didn't make any changes and we were struggling which a lack of traction, so I couldn't go any faster. This is a big pity, because after the strong qualifying that I had in Australia, my expectations were a lot higher. Now we need to analyse the data in order to understand what happened so that we can be prepared for tomorrow's race which, for sure, will be a tricky one as I haven't given myself an easy task by starting from the fourth row of the grid."
13th / 2'12.898 / 7 laps
"Once again the conditions today were not ideal which made everything harder than usual but now I am prepared for either a wet or dry race tomorrow and I am looking forward to the fight. This morning, I felt quite strong on the bike and I was certain that I could reach Q2, however, I made a silly mistake at the last corner, which prevented me from progressing. Having said that, I was comfortable on my Yamaha in that session and we collected a lot of vital data, which we will need if the race is dry. Then, later on in FP4, I had a good feeling in the wet on both compounds of tyre. So in qualifying, we took a gamble but unfortunately it didn't quite work which is a little frustrating as we were so close to making it into QP2. Yet, when we look at the bigger picture, I am pleased that I am back to my competitive level and it's positive that my knee injury keeps improving. I am as far forward as I can be without going into the second qualifying shootout, and now we will have to wait and see about what happens with the weather tomorrow. Either way, I am optimistic about my chances and I will give 110%."
Fourth row for Baz and Barbera in a wet qualifying session
The rain returned to Sepang ahead of the qualifying sessions. In the morning, the Avintia Racing riders enjoyed dry track time and Hector Barbera and Loris Baz were able to work on the set up for dry conditions during the 45 minutes of the FP3 session. But just before FP4, the typical Malaysian tropical downpour came down and the track did not dry for qualifying.
Hector Barbera was really fast in the morning and got straight to Q2, after finishing fifth in FP3. If we compare with yesterday, Loris Baz improved his pace a little bit in dry conditions, although he finished far from the fastest riders. But when the rain came, the Frenchman played his cards superbly, working on his Ducati set up during FP4 to finish second in Q1 behind Cal Crutchlow, despite of a mid-session tumble.
With both riders in the final qualifying session of 15 minutes, the expectations were high for the team, but Barbera was only able to complete two laps before an engine issue. Without time to set up his second bike for wet conditions, he watched the final minutes of Q2 from the garage. The Spanish will start two spots behind Baz, who will be leading the fourth row of the grid in tomorrow’s Malaysian Grand Prix.
MotoGP race is scheduled at 15:00 local time (8:00 CET) and, the forecast is for more rain before the start.
Loris Baz - 2'13.452 - P10
“This is the first time we have something to celebrate since the fourth place at Brno, so I’m very happy. You can always make it better, but conditions for Q2 were not the best. There was not enough water to get the best out of the wet Michelin tyres, and they got overheated, but the water was too much to use the intermediate option. So we tried to get the best out of the conditions we had. But I made some mistakes and finally we’ll start from tenth place, which is still a good position. I pray for rain, because although I improved this morning in the dry, I am still missing more than one second to the top.”
Hector Barbera - 2'13.973 - P12
“The weekend was perfect until we started Q2. We had an engine problem and this was the only bike we had ready for full wet conditions, so I just did two laps in qualifying. The only positive thing is that we are fast in dry as well as in wet conditions, and I think that in Q2 I would have been able to qualify closer to the top. I have a bitter-sweet taste, but I’ll try to change this feeling tomorrow. The race is the most important part of the weekend, and we are ready to race, no matter the conditions.”
Difficult qualifying for Petrux (5th row)
and Scott (6th row) at Sepang.
The Saturday’s qualifying of the Shell Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix, has not given satisfaction to Octo Pramac Yakhnich as Danilo Petrucci and Scott Redding finished respectively in 15th and 18th position.
After the good feeling recorded in dry conditions yesterday, Petrux and Scott started the Fp3 lapping with a good pace but unfortunately they missed direct qualification to Q2 for a few milliseconds. Redding has in fact ended in 11th place, just 37 milliseconds from the Top 10, while Petrucci has passed under the checkered flag 15 milliseconds behind his teammate.
Just as had happened in the first day of practice, the rain began to fall in mid-morning forcing riders to deal FP4 and qualifying in wet conditions. The two Octo Pramac Yakhnich’s riders didn’t manage to find the right feeling in FP4 and the same difficulties have also tabled again in Q1.
18th - Scott Redding
It was a difficult qualifying. I really struggled in wet FP4 because there was no grip and I lost a bit of confidence. In Q1 I tried to go out with soft but I could not find the right feeling and in the second run I could not do better. I really struggled today in these "mixed-condition". I hope the race will be dry tomorrow: we have done well in dry conditions and this morning FP3 I improved the time registered yesterday in FP1.
15th - Danilo Petrucci
It is a shame because in FP3 we missed the direct qualification to Q2 for few milliseconds. In FP4, in wet conditions, we tried different solutions with the tires but I could not find a good feeling. I came out with the soft on the rear in the first run of Q1, but things did not go well as I experienced a lot of spin. I returned to the pits to put the hard tire and tried to push in the only one I had available. I have improved my chrono but it was not what I expected.
Pull&Bear Aspar Team will try finish the weekend with success after tough time in qualifying
Qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix took place on Saturday at Sepang, with Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso taking pole position ahead of fellow Italian Valentino Rossi. The front row is completed by Jorge Lorenzo, who was just 0.056s off his teammate. The second row is made up of Andrea Iannone, Marc Marquez and Cal Crutchlow, for the penultimate round of the 2016 season.
Pull&Bear Aspar Team riders Eugene Laverty and Yonny Hernández will have to fight back through the field in tomorrow's race, as both will start from the seventh row of the grid. The Northern Irishman takes off from nineteenth on the grid after suffering a mechanical problem at the end of Q1. Laverty had begun to pick up his best times when he experienced the issue, which prevented him from improving his position. Meanwhile, Yonny Hernández -who yesterday managed to finish eighth in practice- failed to find the same feeling as on Friday with the front tyre. The Colombian and his crew detected the issue in the last free practice session and were able to correct it in part by using the soft tyre.
19th Eugene Laverty 2.14.769: “In Q1, with the hard wet tyres, the tyres felt good but the left side was quite cool for the first laps. The left side was just warming up and I was going to start pushing, and then we had a mechanical problem and the exhaust broke. We had to go back to the box and then I was finished. A mechanical problem means we’re starting nineteenth, which is disappointing. In the dry conditions this morning it was really positive because we were strong, with a good pace and lapping in the 2:01s, which is very consistent and the best laps I’ve ever done here at Sepang. I’m confident and happy with how the bike is in the dry.”
20th Yonny Hernández, 20th, 2:14.786: “The qualifying session was tough; I did not have the same feeling as yesterday with the hard rubber. I was eighth yesterday and today I had no grip. It was totally different and I could not heat the tyre up or work the forks, because there was no feeling to be able to brake hard. We salvaged this a bit, because in the last free practice session we saw that the bike did not work the same. I then rode with the soft rubber, but we knew it couldn’t last fifteen minutes. Now we have to wait for the race and try to fight for points.”