Positive start for Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales at Sepang
The Malaysian GP has started in typical weather conditions for the region, with lot of humidity and heat that required extra effort from both the riders during the first two sessions of practice, but both Team SUZUKI ECSTAR riders performed well throughout the day at Sepang International Circuit, registering important improvements from morning to afternoon.
Aleix Espargarò was the faster of the two riders, with a final seventh position from the 2’01.058s-lap he scored in Free Practice 2. His team-mate Maverick Viñales struggled a little more to find good confidence, but his lap times were well inside the top-10 for almost all the sessions, and only in the last part of FP2 he lost his place and was classified 12th in the combined times with a best lap of 2’01.796.
Today’s classification is a little unusual, as the top four riders are covered by 0.240s but then the classification is broken by a seven-tenth-of-a-second gap, with other riders from fifth to 12th by a further 0.7s. This is an indication of how tough today’s riding conditions were.
“I was expecting to struggle a lot on this track because it is very fast and has two very long straights but to be honest we are not as badly off as I thought. Of course, I cannot say it was an easy job, but I am happy to be in seventh place. We did a huge job in recent days to analyse the data from Australia and also from the test we had here in February and this gave us a lot of information. This morning it was harder to improve, I struggled to find good confidence with the front, as it lacked stability, but we did make many improvements in the afternoon even though my feeling is not much better. The acceleration is not so bad and we also have positive grip; we made some improvements both on the electronics but also on the overall geometry of the bike and this has paid us back so far. We still have a lot to do for tomorrow but I have the feeling that we are on the right path.”
“I’m not so satisfied about this first day, I feel the bike is unstable and I can’t take the lines I’d wish to around this track. I also still lack some traction, I suffer a lot of spinning from the rear and we must now find the best way to get back some confidence. For other reasons the day has also been positive. We have started working with the hard tyre and the pace is not bad; at the same time, I have to recognise that when I went out with the softer tyre I found much traffic in sectors 3 and 4 and this probably prevented me getting a better result than 12th place overall. Anyhow, we have received a lot of information today and we can work on it all. Tomorrow we will try to perform better and to get a better feeling from the bike.”