Malaysian GP, Sepang: Day one round-up – MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
Dani Pedrosa was just two tenths of a second off Jorge Lorenzo’s fastest ever lap of Sepang as the Repsol Honda Team rider upped the pace on Friday afternoon at the Shell Advance Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix. The 2012 winner topped the second practice session from teammate Marc Marquez and Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Cal Crutchlow, with Lorenzo fifth quickest for Yamaha Factory Racing.
As the premier class escaped the rain that did fall at the Sepang International Circuit on Friday, Pedrosa – already fastest in the morning – raised the bar to 2’00.554, half a second quicker than teammate Marquez. Crutchlow made the top three, despite suffering from pain in his right forearm from the big crash at Silverstone – he has stated that it will need an operation, though could not confirm when. Yamaha Factory Racing’s Valentino Rossi was marginally behind in fourth after finding a significantly better set-up in the afternoon session, though feels he can improve tomorrow.
GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista set a good pace before crashing at Turn 4, fortunately walking away unscathed. He had been testing a new Showa rear shock, which he has given positive feedback so far. Lorenzo, who was sixth in the afternoon, was in fact fifth fastest when taking into account the combined timesheet, though suffered what he described as one of his most difficult days this year, as both engine braking and rear grip issues hindered his progress.
All riders bar five improved on their best times for the day during the afternoon session; one who did not was Colin Edwards, whose NGM Mobile Forward Racing machine had been quickest of the CRTs in the morning. By the time the day met its end, Aleix Espargaro (Power Electronics Aspar) had moved ahead and was 11th quickest. Damian Cudlin rounded out the field as the Australian made his second appearance for PBM.
Tito Rabat was comfortably quickest as Moto2™ practice began on Friday ahead of the Shell Advance Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix. The Tuenti HP 40 rider led Interwetten Paddock Moto2 Racing’s Tom Luthi, as Scott Redding moved ahead of championship rival Pol Espargaro after beginning the day in 12th place.
Already quickest in the morning when rain had affected the opening session, Rabat proceeded to register a 2’07.321 lap time during the dry afternoon. There was a significant gap of seven tenths of a second back to Luthi, as Marc VDS Racing Team’s Redding made huge strides to crack the top three. This left the Englishman almost two tenths up on Rabat’s teammate and closest title rival Espargaro, as Italtrans Racing Team’s Takaaki Nakagami finished fifth despite a crash.
Numerous riders were caught out by a lack of grip, particularly off the racing line following the rain of earlier in the day. As well as Nakagami, there were slip-ups for Azlan Shah (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), wildcard Decha Kraisart (Singha Eneos Yamaha Tech3) and Thitipong Warokorn (Thai Honda PTT Gresini Moto2). These in-turn followed incidents in the morning for Johann Zarco of Came IodaRacing Project and Rafid Topan Sucipto, whose QMMF Racing Team outfit suffered a garage fire during the afternoon which caused damage to bikes and equipment.
Alex de Angelis was sixth for NGM Mobile Forward Racing, ahead of Technomag carXpert’s Dominique Aegerter, Aspar Team Moto2’s Nico Terol, who won last time out in Aragón, Redding’s teammate Mika Kallio and the aforementioned Zarco.
Conditions were very much mixed across the second Moto3™ practice session at Sepang on Friday for the Shell Advance Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix, with Jack Miler eventually going fastest for Caretta Technology – RTG. The Australian completed a reshuffled top three from Mahindra Racing’s Efren Vazquez and Ongetta-Rivacold’s Alexis Masbou, but it was Team Calvo’s Maverick Viñales whose morning time was quickest of the day.
After title contender Viñales posted a best effort of 2’14.961 in the morning, rain before the second session left riders with no option but to fit wet weather tyres. As the circuit eventually dried and slicks were used towards the end of the afternoon period, there were changes aplenty atop the leader board, but it was Miller’s FTR Honda going top with a leading afternoon lap time of 2’15.598. On the overall timesheets for the day, he would finish third behind the aforementioned Viñales and Masbou.
Alex Rins (Estrella Galicia 0,0 and also a championship contender) was fourth overall from Mahindra Racing’s Efren Vazquez and championship leader Luis Salom (Red Bull KTM Ajo), while Ongetta-Centro Seta’s Isaac Viñales was seventh, but led the way in the closing stages of the afternoon. The overall top ten was completed by Ambrogio Racing’s Brad Binder (continuing to adapt to the Mahindra machine) Miguel Oliveira on a factory Mahindra and Tec Interwetten Moto3 Racing’s Philipp Oettl, fresh from his career-best result of sixth in the Aragón Grand Prix.
With damp patches around the track, Eric Granado found himself caught out when entering Turn 7. The Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3 rider, who ended proceedings 19th from Malaysia’s Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Red Bull KTM Ajo), suffered a fall but no injuries.