2017 Sepang MotoGP Preview Press Releases

Preview press releases from some of the MotoGP teams and Michelin ahead of the Malaysian Grand Prix:


Repsol Honda Team head to Malaysia for the last stint of the triple-header

Fresh from Marc Marquez’s brilliant victory in Australia, the Repsol Honda Team have rushed to Malaysia for the penultimate round of the season leading the Rider, Constructor and Team Championships.

With a margin of 33 points over second-place Andrea Dovizioso and a maximum of 50 points still available, Marc will have his first chance to secure the 2017 MotoGP Title next Sunday.

Dani Pedrosa is looking forward to race at a track where he has always been very successful in the past, aiming to recover from two frustrating races in which he struggled with the variable and cold weather conditions.

Besides their normal tasks on track, Marc and Dani will have to face the typical Malaysian extreme weather conditions. Rain will be once again a strong probability, while extremely hot temperatures and physically demanding sessions will surely be a factor to deal with.

At the Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix

Marc Marquez has 2 wins— 1X 125 (2010) 1xMotoGP (2014)—plus 1 podium and 4 pole positions.

Dani Pedrosa has 5 wins —1X125 (2003) 1X250 (2004) and 3XMotoGP (2012, 2013, 2015) plus an additional 5 podiums and 3 pole positions.

Marc Marquez

“We are happy of course to go to Malaysia having won at Phillip Island. I knew that it was very important to get a good result in Australia and try to open a bit of a gap before Sepang, which is a demanding round, and where Dovi won last season. One of the main thing there is the humidity. And the high temperatures of course. I think it’s one of the more difficult race under the point of view of the physical conditions. One good thing is that the tarmac is good now as it has be re-surfaced not long ago. The grip also is nice. We’ll see how the situation will be and will try to manage it at the best for the Championship.”

Dani Pedrosa

“We look forward to go and race in Malaysia, a place we have some very good memories. It’s not an easy round as weather conditions are pretty extreme.

The layout also is demanding: the track itself is quite wide and the corners are different one from the other so you need to find a good line in order to be fast. Said that, we know that we can be competitive if we will find a good setup, so we’ll try to start strong since Friday and get a good result on Sunday.”


The Ducati Team comes to Sepang for the Shell Malaysia Grand Prix, the penultimate round of the 2017 season

Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) have arrived in Malaysia for the third and final leg of the challenging series of three overseas end-of-season races, which will see the MotoGP teams notch up around 35,000 kilometres of flight distance in less than one month.

The penultimate round of the season takes place at the Sepang International Circuit, a track that most riders enjoy to the full, and which has a series of characteristics that make it perfect for modern-day MotoGP bikes: long straights, a wide track and numerous passing spots. All the teams came to Malaysia for the MotoGP pre-season tests in February, and once again it will be the stifling heat of the equatorial country, together with the heavy rains, that will be a key factor throughout the entire weekend.

The Ducati Team has won four times at Sepang thanks to Loris Capirossi, Casey Stoner and Andrea Dovizioso, who scored his first win for Ducati and second in MotoGP here exactly twelve months ago. After the 2016 race in Malaysia, the last twelve months have been a whirlwind of wins and podiums for the Italian driver from Forlimpopoli, which have led him to fight for the title, right until the last round held at Phillip Island a few days ago. In the Australian GP Dovizioso only scored a thirteenth place, but even after this sudden stop, Andrea will try to keep the battle open with two rounds remaining, despite a gap of 33 points to leader Marquez.

Jorge Lorenzo would also like to quickly forget the Australian weekend, which saw him line up for the start of the race with bruising and a sprained left ankle, the outcome of a nasty crash during free practice. The Malaysian circuit is one of the few where the Spanish rider has never won in MotoGP but, with the exception of a DNF in 2008, Lorenzo has never been outside the top four place both in qualifying and in the races, twice finishing second and four times third at the flag.

With two rounds still to go before the end of the championship, Dovizioso is in second place in the overall standings with 236 points, while Lorenzo lies seventh with 117 points.

The Sepang weekend programme gets underway on Friday morning with the first free practice session at 9.55 am (03.55 CET), while the 20-lap race is scheduled for Sunday at 15.00 (08.00 CET).

Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 2nd (236 points)

“Unfortunately I lost a lot of points at Phillip Island and now my shot at the title appears to be compromised. But I always think positively and we are here in Malaysia at a very challenging circuit, together with the heat, where I won last year and where anything can happen. If Marquez keeps on being so fast in the last two races, it’s going to be a tough task, but at this point we must only try and bring home the best possible result and we are going all out to do that.”

Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team #99) – 7th (117 points)

"Sepang will be a completely different story to Phillip Island, because it’s a circuit that is more suitable for our bike, with two long straights. We must give our maximum in these last two races and finish the season in the best possible way. It’s important to begin the weekend well right from Friday’s free practice and demonstrate that now we are much more competitive to what we were in February for the winter tests. I can’t wait to get out on track in Malaysia to put the Australian weekend behind us.”

The Sepang International Circuit

The Sepang circuit, located about 50 km south of Kuala Lumpur, is one of the most modern and spectacular tracks in the world. It was built as part of a vast complex that also includes a hotel, shopping centre, golf course and other sports facilities. It was built in just 14 months, held its first GP in 1999 and set the standard for race circuits worldwide. With four slow corners following two long straights and ten medium to high-speed corners, the wide track is particularly favourable to overtaking and plenty of throttle. One of the longest laps in MotoGP is made all the more gruelling for riders by intense heat and humidity.


Movistar Yamaha Keen on Keeping Momentum Going in Malaysia

Setup

There is no rest for the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team. After a thrilling race on Phillip Island - where riders Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales fought a hard battle for second and third place respectively, they head directly to Malaysia for their third-consecutive fly-away race, at the Sepang International Circuit.

Viñales is eager to claim his first premier class MotoGP victory in Malaysia. In previous years he climbed onto the podium on two occasions, claiming a 125cc win in 2011 and first place in the Moto2 race in 2014. Last year he secured sixth place, his best premier class placement in Sepang, which he is determined to improve on this year.

The Spaniard currently holds third in the championship rankings and is mathematically unable to secure the Rider Title, with a 50-point gap to first place and two races to spare. Instead he will be pushing to claim second place in the standings by bridging the 17-point gap to the rider ahead of him in the rankings.

Teammate Rossi also rode a strong race in Australia and clawed back crucial championship points to climb back up to fourth place in the overall classification, 31 points behind his teammate. This weekend the Italian hopes to be an even bigger threat at the front of the rider field in Sepang.

The Doctor aims to put his experience at the Malaysian track to good use again this weekend. So far, he stood on the Sepang podium 12 times in his career and he will give his all to repeat his previous successes. He secured a 500cc class race victory here in 2001 and claimed MotoGP victories in 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010. Additionally, he also visited the rostrum in 2002, 2005, 2014 and 2016 when he scored second place, and in 2009 and 2015 when he took third.

The Sepang International Circuit was built in just 14 months and held its first Grand Prix in 1999. The track is known to host some of the most exciting races thanks to its combination slow and medium to high-speed corners (five left, ten right), and two long straights (the longest measuring 920 m). However, it's not just the circuit's lay-out that provides challenges when it comes to setting up the bikes. The laps are relatively long, thanks to the circuit's total length of 5.5 km. Add to this extremely hot and humid conditions, and you've got one of the most testing rounds on the MotoGP calendar.

Maverick Viñales

Championship: 3rd - Points: 219

"After the podium in Australia we are very motivated to go to Malaysia, it's a circuit with very different climate conditions to those we've had on Phillip Island and in Japan - it's always very hot and that makes it a very physically demanding race. The bike is working very good now, so it's a little bit disappointing to arrive in Sepang without the mathematical possibility to win the title, but now securing second place in the standings is our target. We have to try to be as strong as we were at the beginning of the season and be on the podium again in Sepang. We will work hard to achieve it."

Valentino Rossi

Championship: 4th - Points: 188

"We need to stay modest after the race in Australia. We have worked well and we have taken another step forward, I'm happy about this, but we still have a lot to do. Going straight to Malaysia is important. I don't expect anything, but we will work hard to make it another nice race. It's a track that I like a lot and I hope for good weather, so we'll be able to work in the best way possible. I'm physically okay, in the next few days I'll rest and next Friday I'll be ready for another weekend."

Massimo Meregalli

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP - Team Director

"Sunday at Phillip Island was a very good day for us. Not only did both our riders finish on the podium, but we also managed to book some progress with the bike. This weekend we hope to keep building on this at the Malaysian GP, especially with regard to the future. The round in Sepang is always the end of the triple-header and therefore all the more challenging. The riders and team members arrive here after two weeks of non-stop work and will have to cope with the humidity and hot temperatures that are physically demanding. Nevertheless, the whole team will again put in the maximum effort to get top results. Our riders are in great shape and highly motivated after Sunday's podium, so we are looking forward to meet the Malaysian fans and start work on Friday."


SEPANG TO WELCOME IANNONE AND RINS FOR THE PENULTIMATE ROUND

Team Suzuki Press Office – October 25.

The 2017 season is nearly at an end, with only two races to go and the penultimate to be raced this weekend at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia. This will also be the last of the three consecutive rounds that took Team SUZUKI ECSTAR to Japan and Australia before arriving here. Indeed, the last two races have been positive both for Andrea Iannone and Alex Rins, marking a solid improvement in their development.

With a 4th and a 6th place for Iannone, in Japan and Australia, and a 5th ant 8th for Rins, the two Suzuki Factory riders arrive in Malaysia with renewed enthusiasm. The positives results were borne of two very different conditions: wet in Motegi and dry at Phillip Island. This indicates solid progress of the GSX-RRs that has proven to be competitive in different conditions.

The Malaysian circuit is a very fast and long one, very different from the previous tracks. The hot temperatures and high humidity will make it hard for everyone, especially for the riders. With four slow corners following two long straights, and ten medium to high-speed corners, the wide track is particularly favourable to overtaking manoeuvres but will also put a lot of stress on the engines. Its 5.5 km (3.44 miles) length makes it one of the longest circuits in MotoGP™, with a main straight measuring 920 metres or 3018.37 ft.

Davide Brivio – Team Manager

“The Sepang track is very different from the previous one, but we arrive here after two positive races - one on wet and one in dry, therefore we can count ourself happy and have more confidence. We are working hard to finalize some improvements we have for the machine because we truly want to end this season in the most positive way possible. Both Andrea and Alex got a boost of trust and confidence from the good results in Japan and Australia. Hopefully this will lend us further help.”

Andrea Iannone

“After two good races I'm pretty confident we are going in the right direction. I'm very happy as well because Suzuki is working really hard to improve and now we are doing better. In Australia I had fun and I felt fast with the bike. Unfortunately, in the end of the last laps the tyre was worn and I couldn't keep my position with Crutchlow, but Sepang is a track we know really well. During the pre-season we set a good pace, but now the situation is different. The main problem here is the heat and the tyre performance, but hopefully we can put together another good race.”

Alex Rins

“We had two positive races in Japan and Australia which give me high hopes, altough I expect Sepang to be very hard because of the hot temperatures and humidity. I remember that in the pre-season tests I suffered in these conditions. Although, I must say that I feel more fit than I did in January. The main objective will be to get more experience and enjoy the weekend, to get the most out of it. The circuit is not one of my best because it’s very long, but we are on a good path to improvement and I hope this gives me a reason to be happy.”


Highflying Zarco ready to fight for success in Sepang heat – Van der Mark to link up with Tech3 for Malaysian GP

After a truly memorable performance in Australia, Johann Zarco aims to challenge for a podium finish in Malaysia to strengthen his attempt to complete the year as the Top Independent rider in the World Championship. Meanwhile, the WorldSBK front-runner Michael van der Mark will replace the recovering Jonas Folger at the round 17 event. The Monster Yamaha Tech3 would like to warmly welcome the promising young Dutch rider, who will be making his MotoGP debut. The action begins this Friday at 09:55, or 03:55 in central Europe.

Johann Zarco

Championship: 6th - Points: 138

“Sepang is a nice track, and I believe my experience after almost a full season, will be useful having tested there at the beginning of the year. The Australian GP was amazing and I am so happy about the feeling that I had on the bike in the race. Therefore, I hope to fight for the podium or even the victory again with the tops guys this weekend. The weather will be difficult as it is always so hot in Malaysia. This is why I need to prepare and manage myself well with the team and save my energy so that I can be strong in the GP. I will take it easy but I aim to battle for the podium once more.”

Michael van der Mark

"It goes without saying that I am really excited. I came quite close to getting the opportunity to ride a MotoGP bike a few weeks ago, but it didn’t work out. Then Hervé called, and although I will have a busy schedule, I could not say no to this chance. I am very happy and I look forward to this adventure. Luckily, I know Sepang, but the MotoGP riders have done a lot of tests there this year, so everyone will be fast. However, I just want to enjoy this weekend, to improve myself and see how it is to ride the YZR-M1. At the moment we have some good momentum in World Superbikes so I think it is the perfect time to jump on the Yamaha. I look forward to riding the bike and I want to thank Hervé and Yamaha for this opportunity."

Hervé PONCHARAL

Team manager

“After the crazy Phillip Island weekend, it’s good to know that we have a day and a half to recover because everyone is drained and we have no more energy! The team and I are looking forward to Sepang as you can imagine, after the unbelievable race that Johann had in Australia. He missed the podium by 0.016, which is something that was impressive but slightly disappointing. Sepang is a track that he likes a lot and it is where he won his second Moto2 title last year. We had some really encouraging tests there in the winter and we intend to carry on the momentum from the last round. I hope Johann can fight for the top five in qualifying as well as in the race and this will be important. One good thing, as we announced in Australia, is that he is now the MotoGP Rookie of the Year, which was his main mission for the 2017 season. The second objective now that we have to do, if possible, is to win the Top Independent rider position in the championship, but we realise that Cal Crutchlow and Danilo Petrucci will give us a hard time. We will work towards this. On the other side of the garage, once again we have a new rider that we are very proud and happy to announce. Michael van der Mark will replace Jonas for this race and he is a young and extremely talented rider from the Netherlands. Michael is part of the factory Yamaha WorldSBK team and he almost replaced Valentino at the Aragon GP, but it didn't happen for obvious reasons! Now he has a chance with us to see what the YZR-M1 is like and to show what he can do. He will have a strong teammate and an experienced crew so I am sure that he can make the best out of it. I hope that he will gain a sweet memory from his time with us by getting a good result on Sunday. Sepang is a track that he knows, having ridden there in the WorldSBK league, so we want to welcome him to Monster Yamaha Tech3 and let's see what happens.”


Reale Avintia Racing heads to the last round of the triple at Sepang

Reale Avintia Racing riders head to Malaysia for the last round of the overseas triple and the penultimate race of the 2017 MotoGP World Championship this weekend.

Following a difficult weekend in Australia, Hector Barbera and Loris Baz arrive at Sepang determined to fight for a good result in the race on Sunday. Twelve months ago, Barbera and Baz finished a wet race at Sepang in fourth and fifth position. The weather forecast for this weekend is not bad, but rain can come at any time in Malaysia.

Both Barbera and Baz expect that all the information gathered at the winter test at this track will be useful to start the weekend with a strong base set-up and to be on the pace from Friday.

Hector Barbera

“Sepang is a good track for me and we have good references from the winter test that was quite positive. We have just two races left to finish the season and I would love to get a good result for my team. We need to forget Australia where nothing worked as expected and start form zero in Sepang. We have only two opportunities to succeed and I’m confident for this weekend. Last year I got my best result in MotoGP, so we’ll try to repeat it this season.”

Loris Baz

“Malaysia is the last round of the triple. Last year the race was very good and I was fifth behind Hector in rain conditions, so we’ll see what we can achieve this time. In Sepang the rain plays always a big roll, so we have to wait and see how the weather will be during the weekend. At least it will be warm, very warm, not like in Australia were it was very cold. We will approach the weekend as usual, working hard from Friday to get the best feeling from the bike and push in every lap, not like at Phillip Island where nothing went as planned.”


Malaysia the last stop for Pull&Bear Aspar

Álvaro Bautista and Karel Abraham arrive at Sepang in contrasting moods but with the same objective to improve

Marc Márquez struck what could prove to be a decisive blow in the MotoGP World Championship in Australia, but the penultimate round of the season takes place this weekend at a circuit where Andrea Dovizioso shone in 2016, when he took the first of six victories in the space of a year. The Ducati rider returns to Sepang on 236 points, 33 behind his rival with just 50 on the table over the remaining two rounds.

The Pull&Bear Aspar Team complete a run of three races in as many weekends in Japan, Australia and Malaysia with the objective of scoring points with both riders. Álvaro Bautista and Karel Abraham travel to Sepang in contrasting moods after two fruitless races for the Spaniard, who was prevented from using the tyre that worked for him in Japan and then struggled to find grip in Australia. Bautista is hoping that the heat in Malaysia can help him to improve his performance, whilst his team-mate Karel Abraham is also hopeful of improving further after a strong weekend at Phillip Island. The Czech rider is hoping for another points battle this Sunday after dicing with a number of factory riders just a few days ago.

Álvaro Bautista: “The flyaways so far haven't gone as well as we hoped. In Japan with the rain and not being allowed to use the tyre we wanted, and the grip problems in Australia, it has all been difficult. It will be hot at Sepang, which could help us, but we will have to keep one eye on the weather again. It is one of my favourite tracks on the calendar, with a huge variety that are a lot of fun. We will work hard to get back the feeling and the competitiveness we have had this season, which has been missing from the last two races.”

Karel Abraham: “We go to Malaysia in high spirits after doing a good job in Australia. Sepang is not the best track on the calendar for me – I like it but it is the heat and humidity that make it so difficult. The objective is to keep our form going and fight for more points if possible.”


CRUTCHLOW AIMING TO CELEBRATE BIRTHDAY IN STYLE AT SEPANG

PRESS RELEASE: 26 October 2017 | Sepang GP Preview

LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow is looking to build on another positive showing in Australia when he gets back out on his RC213V for this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang. After a frustrating run of results, the Briton showed all of his renowned battling qualities to snatch a creditable fifth-placed finish at Phillip Island last week. Although unable to repeat the famous victory he claimed at the Australian track 12 months earlier, Crutchlow was delighted to secure a good result and restore confidence ahead of what is traditionally a tough test in South East Asia.

The Briton – who turns 32 on Sunday - has a mixed record at the Sepang International Circuit, but demonstrated what he could do around the Malaysian layout when he finished fifth in 2015 – his first year as an LCR Honda rider. After failing to finish last year, Crutchlow will be hoping to celebrate his birthday in style this weekend and has high hopes after the team’s efforts at Phillip Island.

Cal Crutchlow

"I’m looking forward to this weekend after a positive enough weekend in Australia. It’s always a difficult and demanding race here in Malaysia where you have to be 100 percent concentrated for the whole weekend.

“You can easily find yourself in a difficult position for qualifying and the race if you’re not 100 percent on the set-up of the bike, so we’ll work hard as a team this weekend and will try to have another good race like we did in Australia and entertain the Malaysian fans.”


MICHELIN SET FOR THE SULTRY SENSATIONS OF SEPANG

Michelin is en route to the penultimate MotoGP™ round of this exciting season as the paddock heads back over the Equator for the visit to Sepang and the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix.

The Malaysian round can always be an unpredictable affair with extremely high-temperatures often quickly followed by torrential downpours which flood the track, all added to the constant humidity and sweltering conditions that exist during this time of year. This means the tyres must work exceedingly hard on an abrasive surface during the hottest part of the day — when the track can regularly heat up to temperatures of more than 50°C — to manage these intense conditions. The MICHELIN Power Slick tyres will have to work at the absolute limit to give the riders the performance and durability that is required over the 20-lap race around the 5,543m circuit and the choice of compounds will be paramount to achieving this for all concerned. The range for the weekend will be soft, medium and hard compounds for both the front and rear, with the rear selection featuring an asymmetric configuration that will have a harder rubber on the right shoulder of the tyre.

The Sepang International Circuit staged its first MotoGP race in 1999 and has since become a permanent event on the calendar. It is a safe and modern facility with a layout that provides many different challenges for riders, manufacturers and technical partners alike, making it a track that is also an important test venue in the winter. Its 15 corners — 5 left and 10 right — are combined with two long straights either side of some of the most impressive grandstands of the season and a big crowd is expected to fill them on race day. With the hot and sultry climate at Sepang, there is also a strong possibility of wet weather, so the MICHELIN Power Rain tyres will most likely see track action some time during the weekend and due to the hotter nature of the track’s location, the selection will be a soft and medium symmetric compound for both the front and rear of the MotoGP machines.

Michelin and the MotoGP field will head out on 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, when all riders will be pushing their Michelin tyres to the limits to claim the best grid positions for the main event, which gets underway at 15.00hrs local time (08.00hrs CET, 07.00hrs GMT/UTC) on Sunday 29th October.

Piero Taramasso – Michelin Motorsport Two-Wheel Manager:

“Sepang is the penultimate race of the year and the final of the three fly-away races. It is always an event that requires particular attention as it can be really hot and the surface is very abrasive, so we need to supply tyres that work in these extreme conditions. It was re-surfaced in 2016, so we have the information from last year’s event and the pre-season test to work with and that data has enabled us to produce the best tyres for the Malaysian circuit. We are constantly learning at each track and at every race to produce the best tyres. Sepang is one of the events that we get the opportunity to see how the tyres perform at the very highest temperatures, so it is an extremely important race for us on our evolution scale.”


Shell Malaysia GP at Sepang, a circuit in the jungle

Did you know…?

- Andrea Dovizioso was victorious at last year's Malaysian Grand Prix. That weekend he also set pole position and the fastest race lap.

- Since last year's GP, Andrea has accumulated a total of 6 wins with Ducati in the last 18 races, which means he has won one out of every three races since then.

- Ducati has had four victories in Sepang. In addition to Dovizioso’s win last year, there have been two with Stoner in 2007 and 2009, and one with Capirossi in 2005.

- The record top speed achieved at Sepang is held by Ducati at 339.6 km/h set in 2015.

- Of Lorenzo’s five championship titles, two of them he has obtained at the Malaysian GP: in 2007 he won his second 250cc championship, and in 2010 where he won the first of three in MotoGP.

- Lorenzo has only won once in Malaysia - in 2006 when he was racing in 250cc. However, since 2010, he has been on the Sepang podium every year, with a total of 6 podiums in MotoGP, which together with those achieved in 125cc and 250cc, total 9.

- In 2005, Ducati finished first and third with Capirossi and Checa, respectively, in a race in which the Spaniard made a spectacular comeback.

- Sepang was designed by Hermann Tilke, the architect who has created most of the circuits of the last 20 years. His designs include Bahrain, Shanghai, Istanbul, Valencia, Alcañiz, Yas Marina, Korea, Buddh, Austin, Chile, Russia, Thailand and Azerbaijan.

- With a length of 5,543 metres, Sepang is the second longest circuit in the championship, behind Silverstone. It is technical and fast at the same time, with two long straights and a front straight of 920 meters.

- Sepang is next to Montmeló and Motegi in the line-up of the most demanding circuits for braking. Here, riders are on the brakes for 37 seconds per lap, nearly 30% of the race.

- The braking for turn 1 is the hardest of the entire track, slowing from 331 km/h to 67 km/h. This requires a braking distance of 289 meters over a period of 6 seconds.

- Two of the last five GPs in Sepang have been held in the rain: in 2012 and 2016.

- Six corners have speeds lower than 85 km/h. It is the track with the most corners below this speed, which contrasts with the two straights where speeds over 300 km/h are reached, plus two other straights that reach 250 km/h, offering the most varied layout on the calendar.

- The 2012 race had to be stopped due to the quantity of water on the track. The race had not passed the two-thirds mark, but as conditions did not improve, the result was decided without continuing. In 2016, the start had to be delayed until the weather conditions improved.


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