Dunlop Moto2 Preview: Sepang

 In Moto2, News

From Phillip Island Dunlop heads straight to the tricky challenge of Sepang for round sixteen of the 2011 Moto2 Championship, the Malaysian Grand Prix, held on October 21-23 near to Kuala Lumpur.

Built for Formula 1, Sepang offers two sizable straights, and its location often means high humidity and heat. An intriguing mix of corner types keep the tyres well exercised over the course of its 5.548 clockwise lap, which is completed at one of the highest average speeds of the season.

Dunlop will bring the front tyre allocation of the 717 hard compound which has been used at all rounds so far this year combined with the 302 medium as used at all rounds since Sachsenring, save for Motegi. For the rear, the ATR01 3757 and ATR05 3868 compounds will be brought.

“Sepang is a bit of a tricky customer,” explains Dunlop Motorsport’s Moto2 co-ordinator, Clinton Howe. “No matter what you try in terms of tyres, it’s always hard to get a good amount of grip consistently at Sepang, particularly because of the circuit layout and the weather conditions.
“Over the years we have tried numerous approaches, and it doesn’t matter what you take, it seems impossible to find a tyre which is perfectly matched to the circuit due to the compromises required, but we keep working to find the perfect tyre for these difficult conditions. You can certainly say we learn a lot.”

As well as the layout and track surface, the Malaysian weather does not assist Dunlop’s task.
“The humidity and the frequent afternoon thunderstorms mean that the circuit surface never fully rubbers in as there is almost a ‘sweat’ on the track surface, it’s consistently greasy,” says Howe.
“The rain usually comes at around three or four ‘o’ clock in the afternoon, pretty much every day. It’s usually very similar conditions – and this seems to be the case no matter what time of the year we visit!
“Our wet tyres are pretty good, but sometimes the rain is so intense that running has to be stopped due to a lack of visibility. Equally, the rain can be amazingly localised, one part of the track can be dry, one part heaving with rain – or even one part of the pit lane wet, another dry.
“A wet track usually equals a cooler track, but in Malaysia the temperatures of often pretty high.”

If the weather and the track surface are difficult, the circuit layout offers no respite.
“The two long straights and the corner setup means that you can consider Sepang almost as two circuits – a left handed one and a right handed one,” says Howe.
“Over the course of a lap you have in effect all left turns, a couple of long straights, then all right hand turns. This means that one side of the tyre isn’t used for around half a lap, then the other side faces a similar experience.
“Because it is a balanced circuit in terms of number of left and right turns and demands, you can’t do anything clever with an asymmetric tyre, so all in all, Sepang’s quite some challenge.”

Dunlop Motorsport’s Senior Tyre Engineer (Motorcycle Race), Chris Valentine gives his take on the next destination on the Moto2 calendar.

“Like Suzuka – which Dunlop visit in the Endurance World Championship – this is another very hot and humid circuit to challenge rider fitness. It’s also one of the fastest circuits we visit with two very long straights either side of the start/finish grandstand. These put a lot of strain on both the engine and the tyres. Finally, watch out for the monsoon which falls almost every day at 4pm!”

The sixteenth round of the Moto2 world championship at Sepang starts with practice on Friday 21 October, followed by qualifying on Saturday and then the race at 12:15 local time on Sunday 23.

Source: Dunlop Motorsport Media

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