–  MotoGP 2013 – Round 16 – Phillip Island – Bridgestone Preview

Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Extra-soft & Soft. Rear: Soft, Medium & Hard (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Soft (Main) & Hard (Alternative)

Round sixteen of the 2013 MotoGP™ season takes place at Australia’s Phillip Island circuit, a circuit whose attractive seaside setting belies its status as one of the cruellest on Bridgestone MotoGP™ tyres.

Due to the extreme temperature difference between the left and right shoulders of the rear tyres at Phillip Island, asymmetric rear slicks are a necessity here. The right side of all three rear slick options at Phillip Island feature Bridgestone’s softest rubber, the extra-soft compound, while the left side of the asymmetric slicks feature either the soft, medium or hard rubber compounds. To prevent excessive tyre temperatures, Bridgestone also employs its special heat-resistant construction in all the rear slick options at Phillip Island.

With cool temperatures and the need for maximum edge grip from the front tyres, the two front slick choices for Phillip Island are the softest in Bridgestone’s range; the extra-soft and soft compound options. Wet weather is often encountered at this windswept circuit, with the main wet tyre for the Australian Grand Prix being the soft compound wet tyre.


Hiroshi Yamada – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department
“The Australian Grand Prix is one of the jewels in the MotoGP crown as the fast and flowing Phillip Island circuit is located in a stunning location overlooking the sea. The final two corners at Phillip Island make this circuit the most demanding circuit for MotoGP tyres, and so we have to create very specific tyres to meet the demands of this special venue. The weather always plays its part at Phillip Island and the cold temperatures, strong winds and susceptibility to sudden rain showers also adds to the challenge for the riders. I’m looking forward to an exciting weekend of action and seeing which rider will rise to the occasion and stamp their authority on this race after Casey’s domination at this circuit for the past six years. The last three MotoGP champions were crowned at Phillip Island and there is the possibility of the same thing happening this weekend, which is yet another reason why I am looking forward to this special race.”

Shinji Aoki – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
“Phillip Island for the most part is not so tough on tyres due to its flowing nature and generally cool ambient temperatures, but the last corner actually creates the highest rear tyre temperature of the season in the left shoulder and so we have to take a special approach to tyre development here. The last two corners are fast with the riders accelerating at high lean angles, and the stress created in this section alone requires us to provide a heat-resistant construction rear tyre for this race. Cold wet weather is often experienced here so softer compounds are generally required to generate good grip and warm-up performance, particularly on the right shoulders as there are fewer right-hand turns. Phillip Island was resurfaced over the off-season which should make the track surface more consistent and potentially make this very fast circuit even faster.”

1 2 3 4 5 6 – Marquez in contention for title as Philip Island beckons

Despite missing out on the win last time out in Malaysia, Repsol Honda Team rookie Marc Marquez has a mathematical chance of winning the World Championship at this weekend’s Tissot Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island if he beats Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo by sufficient points to go into the last two races with a 50-point margin.

Marquez now holds a 43-point lead heading into the race, meaning that a win could get him the title should Lorenzo not finish second – which would be the first time a rookie has taken the championship in 35 years since Kenny Roberts in 1978. However this might be tricky with the form Marquez’s teammate Dani Pedrosa is in, following his dominant win in Sepang last time out. Pedrosa is not out of the title chase yet, but knows that only wins will suffice to keep his chances alive.

Yamaha duo Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi will hope that the notoriously colder conditions at the track will suit their M1s better, with both not quite competitive enough in Sepang. Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Cal Crutchlow will aim to take the fight to the front-runners once more, as a set-up error in Sepang left him with too much power in the early stages, spinning the rear tyre up too much in the bends and loosing traction.

GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista, who beat Crutchlow last time out, will aim for a repeat or better, whilst many will be awaiting whether LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl will be declared fit after fracturing his right ankle on the Saturday in Sepang. Tech3’s Bradley Smith had one of his best races to date in Malaysia, and will be aiming to take that rhythm to Australia, whilst the Ducati Team of Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden will look to close the gap to the Japanese manufacturers.

Yonny Hernandez will continue to substitute for Ben Spies on the Ignite Pramac Ducati, with Damian Cudlin also maintaining the spot in the PBM team. Luca Scassa remains the replacement for the inured Karel Abraham. All three will be once again looking to get past Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro, who remains the dominant force in the CRT category.

World Championship Standings MotoGP™
1 Marc Marquez 298 pts SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
2 Jorge Lorenzo 255 pts SPA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing
3 Dani Pedrosa 244 pts SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
4 Valentino Rossi 198 pts ITA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing
5 Cal Crutchlow 166 pts GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
6 Alvaro Bautista 136 pts SPA HONDA Go & Fun Honda Gresini
7 Stefan Bradl 135 pts GER HONDA LCR Honda MotoGP
8 Andrea Dovizioso 120 pts ITA DUCATI Ducati Team
9 Nicky Hayden 102 pts USA DUCATI Ducati Team
10 Bradley Smith 89 pts GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
11 Aleix Espargaro 83 pts SPA ART Power Electronics Aspar
12 Michele Pirro 50 pts ITA DUCATI Ignite Pramac Racing Team
13 Andrea Iannone 47 pts ITA DUCATI Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Team
14 Colin Edwards 32 pts USA FTR-KAWASAKI NGM Mobile Forward Racing
15 Hector Barbera 29 pts SPA FTR Avintia Blusens
16 Randy De Puniet 27 pts FRA SUZUKI Suzuki Test Team
17 Danilo Petrucci 23 pts ITA IODA-SUTER Came IodaRacing Project
18 Yonny Hernandez 17 pts COL DUCATI Ignite Pramac Racing Team
19 Hiroshi Aoyama 13 pts JAP FTR Avintia Blusens
20 Claudio Corti 11 pts ITA FTR-KAWASAKI NGM Mobile Forward Racing
21 Ben Spies 9 pts USA DUCATI Ignite Pramac Racing Team
22 Karel Abraham 5 pts CZE ART Cardion AB Motoracing
23 Alex De Angelis 5 pts RSM DUCATI Ignite Pramac Racing Team
24 Michael Laverty 3 pts GBR PBM Paul Bird Motorsport
25 Bryan Staring 2 pts AUS FTR-HONDA Go & Fun Honda Gresini
26 Javier Del Amor 1 pts SPA FTR Avintia Blusens
27 Martin Bauer 0 pts AUT S&B SUTER Remus Racing Team
28 Lukas Pesek 0 pts CZE IODA-SUTER Came IodaRacing Project
29 Luca Scassa 0 pts ITA ART Cardion AB Motoracing
30 Ivan Silva 0 pts SPA FTR Avintia Blusens
31 Blake Young 0 pts USA APR CRT Attack Performance

– Moto2

The Moto2™ class looks set to provide a thriller of a race as the grid heads to the second of the triple-header in Phillip Island for the Tissot Australian Grand Prix with the front-runners separated by only nine points.

Marc VDS Racing Team’s Scott Redding had a race to forget last time out in Sepang, with his lead cut significantly by Tuenti HP 40’s Pol Espargaro, who now lies a strong second with 75 points still to collect. The race however, does not appear to be between only two any more, as Espargaro’s teammate Esteve Rabat lies only 28 points off Redding, and took a dominant win in Sepang.

The entire field looks strong, with the likes of Interwetten Paddock Moto2 Racing’s Tom Luthi, Came IodaRacing Project’s Johann Zarco, and Technomag carXpert’s Dominique Aegerter putting in great showings in Malaysia. However, there will be many eyes peeled on whether local talent Anthony West on his QMMF Racing Team machine will be able to repeat his podium from last year.

Alex Mariñelarena continues to substitute for Dani Rivas in the Blusens Avintia team, whilst Mike di Meglio’s replacement in the JiR Moto2 team will be Japanese rider Kohta Nozane.

World Championship Standings Moto2™
1- Scott Redding GBR Kalex 224
2- Pol Espargaro SPA Kalex
3- Tito Rabat SPA Kalex 196
4- Mika Kallio FIN Kalex 156
5- Takaaki Nakagami JPN Kalex 138

– Moto3

Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Luis Salom is the man to catch once again as the Moto3™ contingent heads south to contest the Tissot Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island, with the Mallorcan having extended his lead at the top of the championship with a hard-fought win last time out in Malaysia.

He now holds a 14-point lead from nearest rival, Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Alex Rins, whom he narrowly beat in Sepang. Yet Rins is right on his heels and looking to claw back points to improve his championship aspirations. One rider looking for an increase in performance is Team Calvo’s Maverick Viñales, who struggled somewhat in the Malaysian heat, despite not being far off the leading pace.

Caretta Technology – RTG’s Jack Miller and Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Arthur Sissis will be doing their upmost to impress their home crowd, with Sissis getting a podium at the circuit last year. However this year it is Miller who is the rider on form, and will no doubt be aiming to stop the Spanish dominance. They will be joined by two local wildcards in the form of Lachlan Kevney with the Bullet Racing team, as well as Callum Barker from Barker – McVey Racing.

World Championship Standings Moto3™
1- Luis Salom SPA KTM 284
2- Alex Rins SPA KTM 270
3- Maverick Viñales SPA KTM 258
4- Alex Marquez SPA KTM 162
5- Jonas Folger GER Kalex KTM 137

–  MotoGP – Round 16 – Phillip Island
–  Aussie watch: quick quintet under the microscope

Across the three classes at this weekend’s Tissot Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix there will be almost 100 starters – and five of the full-time World Championship riders will be racing on home soil. King Casey may not be racing, but there are still Aussies looking for home support in each of the three categories on view, Moto3, Moto2 and MotoGP itself.

The numbers home fans are looking for are 50 – 67 – 95 – 8 – 61. The first two belong to our two representatives in the elite MotoGP field, Damian Cudlin and Bryan Staring.

Both are Johnny-come-Latelies in this high-class company: West Australian Staring got the call just before this season started to sign up with Fausto Gresini’s squad, while Taree man Cudlin arrived even later: the race in Aragon, Spain, two weeks ago was his first of the year as he replaced Yonny Hernandez at Paul Bird Motorsport.

It’s Cudlin who rides the #50 bike, a home-grown machine from the British-based Paul Bird Motorsport team. It’s a minor miracle that he is there at all: he crashed at Eastern Creek when he was 18 and was told he might never walk again.

Runner-up in the World Endurance Championship last year, Cudlin spent a long apprenticeship in that category and further honed his skills in his adopted homeland of Germany.

He was German Supersport champion in 2010, made his Moto2 debut in that year’s German Grand Prix, finishing seventh, and earned a MotoGP debut in Japan in 2011 as stand-in for the great Loris Capirossi on a Pramac Ducati.

Now the 30-year-old has been released from IDM Superbike duties with RAC (Racing Against Cancer) BMW in order to accept the PBM offer to ride in all three long-haul races at season’s end.

It hasn’t gone exactly to plan: early retirement in Aragon with gearbox trouble on debut for PBM was followed by a bizarre mishap in Malaysia last weekend when a ruptured exhaust left Cudlin with “a seat like a frying pan” and forced him out after seven laps.

Staring, who rides the #67 bike, proudly has Australian national titles in 125cc, Supersport and Superbike racing on his CV, but the MotoGP learning-curve has proved unusually steep for the 26-year-old from Perth.

“I’ll be going in wide-eyed,” he admitted when the news of his move to the Italian squad broke. Soon after, Staring’s debut turned sour when he retired after just one lap of the Qatar Grand Prix.

“Gutted with my race last night. I still can’t believe it,” he said. “More tricks to MotoGP than what’s in the handbook.”

Staring rides the CRT (Claiming Rules Teams) bike in the Gresini squad as opposed to the faster satellite Honda raced by teammate Alvaro Bautista. Development work and his own apprenticeship are tough.

“If ever we have something new to try I guess that’s where things are slowed down,” says Staring, “as it’s only me doing the laps and I can only do so many laps in a 45-minute session to learn not only the best outcome in terms of that new part while all the time still trying to learn the circuit.

“It’s just an absolutely enormous amount of information to take in over the four sessions before you race. I’ve only got two arms and two legs!”

He’s only got two World Championship points as well, picked up when he made it to the end of a Catalunya race that eight other riders failed to finish. Will he be around the MotoGP scene in 2014? Already we have learned that Moto2 front-runner Scott Redding is moving to the Gresini squad: where that leaves the likeable Staring remains to be seen.

The man on the #95 machine in the Moto2 class will be the most familiar of all to Phillip Island fans. It’s 15 years since Anthony West made his debut there as a 125cc wild card; his last race in Malaysia last weekend was the 200th of his Grand Prix career.

That is a remarkable statistic for two reasons: West has struggled year in, year out to find the machinery and the financial backing to prolong his career. And he is only the second Australian to pass the 200-race milestone, the other being the great Jack Findlay, winner of three premier-class Grands Prix in a 20-year career through the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Just once has Queenslander West stood on the top step of a World Championship podium, and that was at a wet Assen in the Netherlands a whole decade ago. That success cemented West’s enduring ‘Rain Man’ nickname. “I’ve always liked big bikes because you can slide them around and use the rear wheel like in dirt track racing,” he said. “That’s my style, and that’s why I can go fast in the rain.”
Rescued from relative oblivion by the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation last year, West surprised everyone, himself included, with second place at Phillip Island. A repeat might be too much to hope for – he hasn’t finished higher than seventh this year – but with Ant West it won’t be for want of trying. He has just scored points for the seventh time this year with 13th in that 200th milestone Grand Prix in Malaysia.

Australia’s last two hopefuls race in the Moto3 class. The #8 Caretta Technology – Racing Team Germany FTR Honda belongs to another Queenslander, Jack Miller. He likes to call himself ‘Aussie Jack’ and is in his second full season in the class.

Miller has exceeded expectations this season with no fewer than 11 points-scoring finishes, putting him seventh overall in the Moto3 standings. Malaysia last weekend saw him storm through to the top six in the closing stages and he now stands seventh overall on 89 points.

Whatever else happens this year, Miller’s future is secure: he has already been signed by the top squad in the category, Aki Ajo’s Red Bull KTM team.

“We are very happy to have signed Jack Miller to ride for us next season,” said the man who has guided names like Mike di Meglio, Sandro Cortese and current MotoGP sensation Marc Marquez to world titles. “I think that everyone has seen that he is one of the biggest talents for the future in the World Championship.”

Where does Miller’s arrival leave current Red Bull KTM Ajo rider Arthur Sissis? The Adelaide youngster rides the #61 bike for that squad this season and must hope for a string of strong results between now and the last race in Valencia to cement his own place. Malaysia didn’t provide one: Sissis qualified poorly and finished 19th.

He too produced a surprise podium finish at the Island last year in third place but Indianapolis brought his only top-six result of 2013 so far and he is four places below his compatriot in the overall standings on 59 points.

All to play for, then, among the Aussie quintet: Staring and Cudlin seeking to secure a place at the elite level, West keen to build on his 200-race foundation, and teenagers Miller and Sissis desperate to make their own way to the top.

Come on Aussie!

 

Sepang_Miller_Pack Sepang_Cudlin_Pits_1024

–  MotoGP 2013 – Round 15 – Sepang
–  Pedrosa victorious as Lorenzo and Marquez battle in hot Malaysia

Dani Pedrosa has won the Shell Advance Malaysian Motorcycle GP, collecting his third victory of the 2013 MotoGP™ season. Marc Marquez completed a Repsol Honda Team one-two after a nail-biting battle with Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo, as the reigning World Champion rounded out the podium.

With four races to go in 2013, Sepang marked the first event of a triple-header which next weekend takes the MotoGP™ fraternity to Australia, before racing in Japan on the final weekend of the month. Saturday saw Marquez storm to a fourth consecutive pole position as the newcomer attempted to edge ever closer to an historic title win.

Pedrosa’s victory came as his first for almost five months, having not stood atop the podium since Le Mans in mid-May. He narrowly missed out on taking the lead as Lorenzo swept through at the start, but overhauled the Mallorcan at the end of the first lap. As Lorenzo became involved in an intense battle with Marquez, who finally made the move stick at Turn 14 with just over 11 laps to go, Pedrosa extended his advantage to pick up a second successive victory on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur.

The result means all three of the rostrum finishers retain mathematical possibilities of clinching the World Championship, although Marquez is the only rider who could claim the title at Phillip Island next weekend. Should he do so, the 20-year-old Catalan would become the first rookie premier class title winner for 35 years.

Outside of the top three at Sepang, multiple winner Valentino Rossi (Yamaha Factory Racing) experienced a somewhat lonely ride to fourth spot as Alvaro Bautista (GO&FUN Honda Gresini) came out on top in a battle with Cal Crutchlow (Monster Yamaha Tech3); the Spaniard now moves up to sixth place in the Riders’ Championship, ahead of LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl who was forced to miss the race because of a broken ankle. Tech3’s Bradl Smith and Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso were seventh and eighth, ahead of lead CRT runner Aleix Espargaro (Power Electronics Aspar) and Yonny Hernandez (Ignite Pramac Racing).

In 15th spot, NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards clinched the final point after he, Avintia Blusens’ Hector Barbera and PBM’s Michael Laverty were handed ride-through penalties for jumping the start. A total of five riders failed to finish, including 2006 World Champion Nicky Hayden who parked his Ducati Team machine on the start/finish straight after suffering technical problems.

Round 16 of 18, the Tissot Australian Grand Prix, will take place next weekend as Marc Marquez attempts to become the youngest ever MotoGP™ World Champion.

– MotoGP™ Race Classification – Round 15
1 Dani Pedrosa 40’45.191 SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
2 Marc Marquez +2.757 SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
3 Jorge Lorenzo +6.669 SPA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing
4 Valentino Rossi +10.351 ITA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing
5 Alvaro Bautista +22.149 SPA HONDA Go & Fun Honda Gresini
6 Cal Crutchlow +22.301 GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
7 Bradley Smith +30.864 GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
8 Andrea Dovizioso +45.111 ITA DUCATI Ducati Team
9 Aleix Espargaro +59.264 SPA ART Power Electronics Aspar
10 Yonny Hernandez +1’01.417 COL DUCATI Ignite Pramac Racing Team
11 Hiroshi Aoyama +1’03.665 JAP FTR Avintia Blusens
12 Randy De Puniet +1’14.256 FRA SUZUKI Suzuki Test Team
13 Claudio Corti +1’21.603 ITA FTR-KAWASAKI NGM Mobile Forward Racing
14 Hector Barbera +1’27.976 SPA FTR Avintia Blusens
15 Colin Edwards +1’29.442 USA FTR-KAWASAKI NGM Mobile Forward Racing
16 Danilo Petrucci +1’29.551 ITA IODA-SUTER Came IodaRacing Project
17 Luca Scassa +1’47.930 ITA ART Cardion AB Motoracing
18 Bryan Staring +1’52.927 AUS FTR-HONDA Go & Fun Honda Gresini
19 Michael Laverty DNF GBR PBM Paul Bird Motorsport
20 Lukas Pesek DNF CZE IODA-SUTER Came IodaRacing Project
21 Nicky Hayden DNF USA DUCATI Ducati Team
22 Damian Cudlin DNF AUS PBM Paul Bird Motorsport
23 Andrea Iannone DNF ITA DUCATI Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Team

– Championship standings
1 Marc Marquez 298 pts SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
2 Jorge Lorenzo 255 pts SPA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing
3 Dani Pedrosa 244 pts SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
4 Valentino Rossi 198 pts ITA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing
5 Cal Crutchlow 166 pts GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
6 Alvaro Bautista 136 pts SPA HONDA Go & Fun Honda Gresini
7 Stefan Bradl 135 pts GER HONDA LCR Honda MotoGP
8 Andrea Dovizioso 120 pts ITA DUCATI Ducati Team
9 Nicky Hayden 102 pts USA DUCATI Ducati Team
10 Bradley Smith 89 pts GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
11 Aleix Espargaro 83 pts SPA ART Power Electronics Aspar
12 Michele Pirro 50 pts ITA DUCATI Ignite Pramac Racing Team
13 Andrea Iannone 47 pts ITA DUCATI Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Team
14 Colin Edwards 32 pts USA FTR-KAWASAKI NGM Mobile Forward Racing
15 Hector Barbera 29 pts SPA FTR Avintia Blusens
16 Randy De Puniet 27 pts FRA SUZUKI Suzuki Test Team
17 Danilo Petrucci 23 pts ITA IODA-SUTER Came IodaRacing Project
18 Yonny Hernandez 17 pts COL DUCATI Ignite Pramac Racing Team
19 Hiroshi Aoyama 13 pts JAP FTR Avintia Blusens
20 Claudio Corti 11 pts ITA FTR-KAWASAKI NGM Mobile Forward Racing
21 Ben Spies 9 pts USA DUCATI Ignite Pramac Racing Team
22 Karel Abraham 5 pts CZE ART Cardion AB Motoracing
23 Alex De Angelis 5 pts RSM DUCATI Ignite Pramac Racing Team
24 Michael Laverty 3 pts GBR PBM Paul Bird Motorsport
25 Bryan Staring 2 pts AUS FTR-HONDA Go & Fun Honda Gresini
26 Javier Del Amor 1 pts SPA FTR Avintia Blusens
27 Martin Bauer 0 pts AUT S&B SUTER Remus Racing Team
28 Lukas Pesek 0 pts CZE IODA-SUTER Came IodaRacing Project
29 Luca Scassa 0 pts ITA ART Cardion AB Motoracing
30 Ivan Silva 0 pts SPA FTR Avintia Blusens
31 Blake Young 0 pts USA APR CRT Attack Performance

– Moto2™

Tito Rabat has completed a dominant weekend in the Moto2™ Shell Advance Malaysian Motorcycle GP, topping every session before winning a shortened race. Pol Espargaro finished second with championship leader Scott Redding seventh, meaning the Englishman’s points advantage decreases from twenty points to nine.

Originally scheduled to be a 19-lap encounter, the race distance was shortened to 12 tours following a delay after a multiple collision on the opening lap. After the initial incident for Axel Pons (Tuenti HP 40), Fadli Immammuddin (JIR Moto2) collected the stranded bike before Ezequiel Iturrioz (Blusens Avintia), Zaqhwan Zaidi (Technomag carXpert) and Decha Kraisart (Singha Eneos Yamaha Tech 3) also became involved. Thankfully, all riders escaped major injury.

At the restart, Espargaro took advantage by clinching the lead, only for Rabat to slide back ahead and remain in front for the rest of the race. His third victory of the season moves him to within 28 points of the championship leader with a maximum of 75 still on offer across the final trio of Grand Prix. After overhauling Interwetten Paddock Moto2 Racing’s Luthi at the start of the penultimate tour, Espargaro clinched second place to reduce Redding’s championship lead yet further.

Redding (Marc VDS Racing Team) lost another point when Johann Zarco (Came IodaRacing Project) slipstreamed his way into sixth place on the finish line, while fourth and fifth positions were filled by Redding’s teammate Mika Kallio and Technomag carXpert’s Dominique Aegerter, who at the restart appeared to have triggered an incident which took both Alex de Angelis (NGM Mobile Forward Racing) and Xavier Simeon (Maptaq SAG Zelos Team) out of the race.

Reigning Moto3™ World Champion Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP) fell at the final corner following a battle with Danny Kent (Tech3) who finished 12th, while Anthony West was 13th for QMMF Racing Team to pick up points in his 200th World Championship start. Three races remain in the 2013 season, starting with the Tissot Australian Grand Prix from Phillip Island next weekend.

Moto2™ Race Classification
1 / Esteve RABAT / SPA / Tuenti HP 40 / KALEX / 25’45.411 / 155 /
2 / Pol ESPARGARO / SPA / Tuenti HP 40 / KALEX / 25’46.974 / 154.9 / 1.563
3 / Thomas LUTHI / SWI / Interwetten Paddock Moto2 Rac / SUTER / 25’48.321 / 154.7 / 2.91
4 / Mika KALLIO / FIN / Marc VDS Racing Team / KALEX / 25’50.225 / 154.6 / 4.814
5 / Dominique AEGERTER / SWI / Technomag carXpert / SUTER / 25’52.763 / 154.3 / 7.352
6 / Johann ZARCO / FRA / Came Iodaracing Project / SUTER / 25’55.201 / 154.1 / 9.79
7 / Scott REDDING / GBR / Marc VDS Racing Team / KALEX / 25’55.251 / 154.1 / 9.84
8 / Takaaki NAKAGAMI / JPN / Italtrans Racing Team / KALEX / 25’57.305 / 153.9 / 11.894
9 / Jordi TORRES / SPA / Aspar Team Moto2 / SUTER / 25’57.713 / 153.8 / 12.302
10 / Julian SIMON / SPA / Italtrans Racing Team / KALEX / 26’00.935 / 153.5 / 15.524
11 / Simone CORSI / ITA / NGM Mobile Racing / SPEED UP / 26’01.601 / 153.4 / 16.19
12 / Danny KENT / GBR / Tech 3 / TECH 3 / 26’10.602 / 152.5 / 25.191
13 / Anthony WEST / AUS / QMMF Racing Team / SPEED UP / 26’11.393 / 152.5 / 25.982
14 / Ricard CARDUS / SPA / NGM Mobile Forward Racing / SPEED UP / 26’11.451 / 152.5 / 26.04
15 / Marcel SCHROTTER / GER / Maptaq SAG Zelos Team / KALEX / 26’11.791 / 152.4 / 26.38

CHAMPIONSHIP POSITIONS: 1 REDDING 224, 2 ESPARGARO 215, 3 RABAT 196, 4 KALLIO 156, 5 NAKAGAMI 138, 6 AEGERTER 133, 7 ZARCO 123, 8 LUTHI 110, 9 TEROL 108, 10 TORRES 90, 11 CORSI 79, 12 SIMEON 71, 13 SIMON 63, 14 DE ANGELIS 46, 15 PASINI 42.

– Moto3™

Luis Salom has extended his Moto3™ championship lead by coming out on top of a multiple-rider battle in Malaysia. The Red Bull KTM Ajo rider beat Alex Rins by just 69 thousands of a second, with Miguel Oliveira completing the podium.

After 18 circulations of the Sepang International Circuit, the lead had changed almost by the lap, with a dramatic race always a prospect after a shaking up of the usual order in Saturday’s qualifying session. Salom started from pole position, with Ongetta-Rivacold’s Alexis Masbou and GO&FUN Gresini Moto3’s Niccolo Antonelli sharing the front row. Masbou would take the lead as the race began, but by the time the final lap arrived the Frenchman had fallen to seventh while a six-rider group battled for the positions at the sharp end of the race.

Leading into the final lap, Salom would lose his advantage to Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Rins but had critically retaken the advantage as the pack headed down the back straight for the final time. Rins attacked at the final corner, but was narrowly deprived of a hat-trick of consecutive victories. In third place, Miguel Oliveira and Mahindra Racing collected their first podium finish of the 2013 campaign, while the top five was completed by Rins’ teammate Alex Marquez and Team Calvo’s Maverick Viñales (both of whom had taken turns in the lead), with Jack Miller sixth for Caretta Technology – RTG, but only one second behind the winner.

The aforementioned Masbou ended his day in seventh spot, ahead of Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3’s Jonas Folger who had topped the Warm-Up session, while Team Calvo’s Ana Carrasco was delighted to score her first World Championship point courtesy of 15th position. However, there was immense disappointment for Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Zulfahmi Khairuddin, unable to race in his home Grand Prix and in which he finished a close second last year, as he suffered pain from the wrist injury he sustained last time out in Aragón. Eight riders failed to finish, including front row starter Antonelli and CIP Moto3’s Alan Techer who was taken to the Medical Centre after suffering a fracture to his left kneecap.

Salom’s victory raises his points total to 284 with three races remaining, leading Rins by 14 points with a maximum of 75 still on off. Viñales sites third on 258 points, 26 in arrears of Salom ahead of next weekend’s Tissot Australian Grand Prix.

Moto3™ Race Classification
1 / Luis SALOM / SPA / Red Bull KTM Ajo / KTM / 40’42.441 / 147.1 /
2 / Alex RINS / SPA / Estrella Galicia 0,0 / KTM / 40’42.510 / 147.1 / 0.069
3 / Miguel OLIVEIRA / POR / Mahindra Racing / MAHINDRA / 40’42.849 / 147.1 / 0.408
4 / Alex MARQUEZ / SPA / Estrella Galicia 0,0 / KTM / 40’43.223 / 147.1 / 0.782
5 / Maverick VIÑALES / SPA / Team Calvo / KTM / 40’43.496 / 147.1 / 1.055
6 / Jack MILLER / AUS / Caretta Technology – RTG / FTR HONDA / 40’43.518 / 147.1 / 1.077
7 / Alexis MASBOU / FRA / Ongetta-Rivacold / FTR HONDA / 40’47.457 / 146.8 / 5.016
8 / Jonas FOLGER / GER / Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3 / KALEX KTM / 40’48.718 / 146.8 / 6.277
9 / Romano FENATI / ITA / San Carlo Team Italia / FTR HONDA / 40’49.393 / 146.7 / 6.952
10 / Philipp OETTL / GER / Tec Interwetten Moto3 Racing / KALEX KTM / 40’53.403 / 146.5 / 10.962
11 / Brad BINDER / RSA / Ambrogio Racing / MAHINDRA / 40’53.537 / 146.5 / 11.096
12 / Niklas AJO / FIN / Avant Tecno / KTM / 41’03.453 / 145.9 / 21.012
13 / Jakub KORNFEIL / CZE / Redox RW Racing GP / KALEX KTM / 41’11.884 / 145.4 / 29.443
14 / Isaac VIÑALES / SPA / Ongetta-Centro Seta / FTR HONDA / 41’13.982 / 145.3 / 31.541
15 / Ana CARRASCO / SPA / Team Calvo / KTM / 41’14.020 / 145.3 / 31.579

CHAMPIONSHIP POSITIONS: 1 SALOM 284, 2 RINS 270, 3 VIÑALES 258, 4 MARQUEZ 162, 5 FOLGER 137, 6 OLIVEIRA 131, 7 MILLER 89, 8 MASBOU 78, 9 VAZQUEZ 62, 10 KHAIRUDDIN 60, 11 KORNFEIL 59, 12 SISSIS 59, 13 BINDER 55, 14 FENATI 55, 15 AJO 47.

– HRC Report

Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V) shrugged off lingering pain from his recent Aragon crash to score a convincing victory in today’s Malaysian GP, run in gruelling tropical heat. The former 250 and 125 World Champion was followed home by team-mate Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda RC213V), who once again increased his World Championship lead over Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) who finished third today.

Pedrosa – who also won here last year – finished the race 2.7 seconds ahead of Marquez to record his third victory of the season. The result gave the Repsol Honda team its fifth one-two finish of the season, following similarly impressive performances at Austin, Jerez, Indianapolis and Brno. The result increases Honda’s lead in the constructors’ title race and Repsol Honda’s lead in the team championship.

Starting from the second row of the grid, Pedrosa grabbed the lead from Lorenzo on lap five and was soon clear of the entertaining battle that raged behind him, with Lorenzo and pole-sitter Marquez swapping positions time and again before half distance. At one point the Yamaha rider made contact with the reigning Moto2 World Champion – who had set a new lap record on lap two – but their fight continued unabated until Marquez went inside his rival at Turn 14 on the ninth lap. From that moment on, Marquez had only the brilliant Pedrosa ahead, but he had lost too much time fighting back and forth with Lorenzo and soon realised that chasing his team-mate would entail taking too many risks. He knew full well that all he really needed to do was increase his points advantage over the reigning champ, which he duly did.

With 15 rounds gone and three to go, the remarkable 20-year-old rookie leads Lorenzo by 43 points. If he does go on to win the title, he will be the youngest crowned king of the elite class in the 65 year history of the sport.

After his third win of the season, Pedrosa sits just 11 points behind Lorenzo. Without the Aragon crash – which wasn’t his fault – he would still be very much in contention for the World Championship.

Alvaro Bautista (Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini RC213V) enjoyed a thrilling duel for fifth place with Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha), which went his way in the final few laps. In the early stages he had run with the lead group, but after running wide he lost touch and that allowed Crutchlow to catch and pass him. However, Bautista had the speed when it mattered most.

Australian rookie Bryan Staring (GO&FUN Honda Gresini FTR Honda) finished 18th, three places out of the points, and is looking forward to going to Phillip Island, a track he knows well.

Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda RC213V) missed today’s race after what should have been an uncomplicated low-side crash during yesterday’s final practice session. The German lost the front into Turn One and caught his right foot on some trackside carpet, which fractured the ankle. He underwent surgery in Kuala Lumpur last night and has yet to decide whether he will be able to race at Phillip Island next weekend.

Esteve Rabat (Tuenti HP 40 Pons Kalex) stormed to a brilliant win in the Honda-powered Moto2 race to strengthen his outside challenge for the World Championship. The Spaniard started from pole position and quickly made the shortened race – which had been stopped and restarted after a lap one pile-up – all his own. During the 12 laps no one got close to Rabat – who last won a race at Indy in August – and he took the chequered flag 1.5 seconds ahead of team-mate Pol Espargaro (Tuenti HP40 Pons Kalex) who won a tense duel for second place with Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Paddock Suter).

Mika Kallio (Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex) came through to fourth at the finish after getting the better of Dominique Aegerter (Technomag carXpert Suter) in the closing stages. The Finn was just 0.6 seconds off the podium.

World Championship leader Scott Redding (Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex) had another difficult weekend, qualifying on the fourth row and finishing in seventh place after Johann Zarco (Came Ioda Racing Project Suter) had passed him at the final corner.

It might have been a different story without the first-lap accident. Redding had made a stunning start from row four to take fourth place at only the second corner, only for the red flags to come out moments later. He was unable to repeat the feat in the restart. With three races remaining, the Briton leads Espargaro by nine points.

None of the five riders involved in the pile-up was seriously hurt.

Jack Miller (Caretta Technology – RTG FTR Honda) rode a heroic Moto3 race, fighting his way into the lead pack to cross the line just one second behind race winner and series leader Luis Salom (KTM). Miller spent the last few laps in the thick of the lead group of six riders and passed two of them on the final lap, but he didn’t quite have the speed to hold them off and so finished the race in sixth spot. It was another impressive display from the Australian teenager who now travels to Phillip Island for his home race.

Alexis Masbou (Ongetta-Rivacold FTR Honda) also ran with the leaders in the early stages. After qualifying brilliantly to put himself on the front row, he led the charge away from the grid, then used his impressive late braking and corner speed to stay with the frontrunners. However, from mid-race he was troubled by vision problems – possibly the result of an old injury – and although he tried to keep pushing he had to ease his pace slightly and dropped back to lead the second group over the finish line in seventh place.

Romano Fenati (San Carlo Team Italia FTR Honda) enjoyed a stirring ride through the pack, from 19th at the end of the first lap all the way to ninth, just over a second behind Masbou. Isaac Vinales (Bimbo Ongetta-Centro Seta FTR Honda) was the final Honda rider in the points, the Spaniard finishing 14th.

Niccolo Antonelli (GO&FUN Gresini FTR Honda) was running in the top ten after qualifying on the front row of the grid, only to tumble shortly before half-distance.

The MotoGP paddock now continues its eastern tour, immediately heading south to Phillip Island for next Sunday’s Australian GP. The quick-fire action continues with the Japanese GP on October 27, before the circus returns to Europe for the Valencia GP season finale in Spain on November 10.

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: race winner – “I am very happy with this win, as it is very special. My level of riding today was very good and the victory comes after a difficult week in which I was laid up in bed and could hardly move. To come here and win is fantastic, so thanks to all my team! It is a pity about what happened in Aragón, because we had the pace and the same chance of the win as we did here. However, we can’t keep looking back; we need to continue on and try to carry our form into the final races.”

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda: 2nd – “These twenty points are very important and I’m really happy with how the race went today. I had a nice, fun battle with Lorenzo, but at the same time I could see that Dani was opening up a gap. When I finally managed to overtake Jorge and make the pass stick, I tried to reduce the distance that Dani had put between us. However, I saw that it was too risky to do so. From that moment on, I decided to focus on keeping Lorenzo at bay, because the goal here was to finish the race ahead of him. We did what we came here to do, so we are very happy!”

Alvaro Bautista, Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini: 5th – “I made a good start and that allowed me to get away with the front group for a few laps but then I had a moment when I couldn’t get the front brake lever fully on and I ran wide. It took me a couple of laps to get confident with the brakes again and I lost touch. Maybe in the battle with Valentino I overheated the brakes. It was a shame but I fought my way back to Crutchlow and then gritted my teeth to beat him in a fight to the end. Another important top-five finish for me, the team, who have done a great job again, and the sponsors.”

Bryan Staring, GO&FUN Honda Gresini: 18th – “The race went pretty much the same as the rest of the weekend here and unfortunately we just haven’t been competitive enough. We have struggled to get confident here and the only real consolation is that next week we go to my home race at Phillip Island, a circuit where I have won many races in the past.”

Moto2 rider quotes

Esteve Rabat, Tuenti HP 40 Pons: race winner – “It was a very difficult race – so hot! I got a good start and pushed from the beginning, then came the crash and the red flags. In the restart my tyres felt good so I could push immediately. But I made a mistake – for 12 laps I thought a water bottle wasn’t necessary – but it was! Also, I had some front and rear chatter, especially at turns five and six, where I lost time compared to yesterday. But I kept my head. I’m very happy with this result, so my congratulations to the team. Now we go to Australia and try to do the same. The title is not impossible – I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.”

Pol Espargaro, Tuenti HP40 Pons: 2nd – “I’m happy, especially because the weekend didn’t start so well for us. I had a very bad FP1, then FP2 was even worse – I didn’t have a good feeling with the bike. Yesterday we tried something completely different and tried a very different setting to give me more grip. We think this setting may also help us at other tracks. I was so fast in qualifying, which helped me relax more for the race, but I wasn’t so good with a full tank and new tyre. I think the restart helped me a lot. I pushed at the end but it was impossible to catch Tito [Rabat].”

Thomas Luthi, Interwetten Paddock: 3rd – “I had some rear-grip problems at the end, so I think the shorter race helped me. Tito had such a good pace, so I overtook Pol as quickly as I could and tried to stay close to Tito, but it was impossible. Then my rear tyre went down and I lost a lot of traction out of the corners, which is why I was put back into third place. Overall, a good weekend though, and I had a lot of fun here.”

Honda Moto3 Rider quotes

Jack Miller, Caretta Technology – RTG: 6th – “It was good, but a shame about the end, after I’d passed a couple of them on that last lap. It’s been good this weekend. We had the suspension dialled in great – after 18 laps in this heat the bike was still working well, so the team have done a fantastic job. We were sixth but we should be proud because we were only one second off the win – that’s our best-ever gap to the winner. And it’s great to get this result leading into Australia.”

Alexis Masbou, Ongetta-Rivacold: 7th – “It was good – hard work! This time the bike was very good – in the first laps it was so easy to stay with the KTMs and the lead group. We geared the bike shorter for the race, so it was a little difficult at the end of the straight, but in braking and through the corners I could stay with them easy. Then mid-race I started to have problems – I couldn’t see very well – maybe something to do with an old injury. That made it difficult to stay with the group. I tried again, but I was destroyed, so after that it was just trying to finish.”

Romano Fenati, San Carlo Team Italia: 9th – “After warm-up the bike was very good. During the race I had to fight through traffic which lost me a bit of time, so I couldn’t quite catch [Jonas] Folger. Now I go to Australia with high morale because with the team has improved the base set-up which is important. Improving our pace in qualifying remains the priority.”

– Yamaha Report

Defending world champion Jorge Lorenzo battled hard during the early stages of today’s Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix to take third on the podium.

Starting from fourth on the grid, the Yamaha Factory Racing rider was yet again off the start line like a bullet and the first rider through turn one in the lead. With both Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez snapping at his heels he put his head down and tried to break away. With 16 laps to go, Pedrosa made his move at the end of the back straight, taking the lead. Marquez then moved up into third and began an epic battle with Lorenzo, the two swapping positions multiple times and passing within millimetres of each other at speeds of over 190km per hour. With 11 laps to go Marquez was able to make his final pass tick on the inside of turn 14, leaving Lorenzo to hold third to the line and claim third on the podium.

Teammate Valentino Rossi dropped initially to fourth off the line from his second place grid position, tucked in behind Marquez on the first lap. The nine-time world champion made a move on Marquez at turn 10 but was unable to pass and settled back into fourth. Rossi spent several laps holding off the advances of Alvaro Bautista, narrowly escaping an incident when the Spanish rider overshot turn one, just missing Rossi as he ran wide. The rest of the race proved to be a lonely one as he held his position in fourth, crossing the line just over ten seconds behind the leader.

The results from the first of the overseas triple header sees Lorenzo hold second in the championship, now on 255 points, Rossi holds fourth on 198 points.

The team now moves directly to Australia for the next round at the Phillip Island circuit next weekend.

Jorge Lorenzo – 3rd / +6.669 / 20 laps
“We were much slower than the others today, especially after three or four laps. I tried to open a gap at the beginning like always but there was +0 on the board after a couple of laps. When Dani passed I tried to stay with him and also then again when Marc passed me. I tried to pass him some more times to make him nervous but it was impossible, he was much stronger today so we couldn’t do much more. To win the championship is almost impossible but I would like to finish second in the championship and win as many races as possible.”

Valentino Rossi – 4th / +10.351 / 20 laps
“Today was half and half for me, for sure we improved and made another step, improving the setting of the bike and I was able to be very close to Jorge. It looks like today our competitors had an advantage here; they were able to keep a better rhythm than us. Starting from second I hoped to arrive on the podium but I knew the top three guys were very strong. At the beginning of the race I lost some time as I had a problem with the front brakes. We continue to work and push and fight to be in with the top three.”

Yamaha Factory Racing Wilco Zeelenberg – Team Manager – “Well, it was a very hot race, especially at the beginning, Jorge made an amazing start again. I think he gave everything he had to fight with Marc but finally it was not enough and he had to let them go for third place. Podiums are always good and sometimes there are races you cannot win, this was one of those.”

Yamaha Factory Racing Massimo Meregalli – Team Director – “The weekend didn’t go as we expected. We suffered a drop off in tyre life and we couldn’t ride the bikes as we needed to. We tried hard to make the best setting to be fast and consistent but unfortunately we still needed something more. We won’t give up until the end and fortunately there is one race in a week’s time. We would like to have our revenge so we are really looking forward to Phillip Island.”

Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team riders Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith battled hard in baking hot conditions to claim sixth and seventh respectively in front of a record crowd of over 84,000 fans packed into the Sepang International Circuit.

Temperatures still hit over 30 degrees, despite heavy cloud cover and a strong wind blowing around the vast Malaysian motorsport arena, when Crutchlow and Smith engaged in an early battle at the start of the physically challenging 20-lap encounter. A brilliant start from rookie Smith moved him ahead of his compatriot on the opening lap before Crutchlow moved back into the top six. From that early juncture, former World Supersport Champion Crutchlow was caught in a long and tough battle with Spaniard Alvaro Bautista, which went right down to the chequered flag. Crutchlow and Bautista exchanged several overtakes in an exciting battle but the 27-year-old missed out on his first top five finish since the Indianapolis round in August by just 0.152s. Today’s result though consolidated Crutchlow’s position as the leading non-factory rider in the World Championship rankings on 166-points, which keeps him 30 points clear of Bautista with just three races remaining.

Smith strengthened his quest for a top 10 overall finish in the Championship standings after he rode to a lonely but very valuable seventh position. The platform for his 10th top 10 finish of the campaign was a terrific launch off the line that put him right on the back of the leading group in the opening exchanges. Unable to keep himself in the hunt for a third top six finish, Smith kept razor sharp concentration in the extreme heat to streak away from those behind with relative ease and his fastest lap of the race was only just over 0.7s behind Crutchlow’s. The nine-points collected this afternoon could prove vital in the chase for 10th in the final standings, with the 22-year-old now six points clear of main challenger Aleix Espargaro.

The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team has little time to catch its breath now, with the squad heading off to Australia for the second of a gruelling flyaway triple-header that concludes in Japan on October 27.

Cal Crutchlow – 6th – 166 points – “It was a difficult race and I am very pleased to be in the top six, though it would have been better to have won that fight with Alvaro. That’s about my level at the moment and we knew this is not an easy track for Yamaha. I lost quite a bit of time fighting with Alvaro because I was looking to push on and maybe chase Valentino. But at the start I couldn’t stop the bike with the soft front tyre and I had a few moments. And I was also struggling with a lack of rear grip and that made it quite a difficult race. It was a good battle with Alvaro and it was a pity he just beat me but at the of end of the day he is on a package very close to the one that won the race today. I’m still satisfied with sixth but I am not so happy with the gap to Dani at the front. I am confident though we will be stronger at Phillip Island.”

Bradley Smith – 7th – 89 points – “To be honest today was a good way to end a very positive weekend. During the last three days we improved in every single session, we made progress with the setting of the bike and me finishing in 7th position is obviously a pleasant fact for my Championship standing. Today the track conditions were very tricky and with the higher temperatures the behavior of the bike was very different to what I experienced during the whole weekend and it took me awhile to adjust my riding style. But my second half of the race was quite strong and I am pleased with this. Furthermore we improved my feeling on full fuel load where I normally struggled a lot and also finishing the race still seeing Cal and Alvaro was a very positive feeling. So altogether I’m truly satisfied with this event and I will fly to Australia full of confidence and looking forward to the race next week.”

– Ducati Report

The Shell Advance Malaysian Motorcycle GP, round fifteen of the MotoGP World Championship, was short on satisfaction for the Ducati Team.

Andrea Dovizioso started from eighth place on the grid and at the end of the 20-lap race, he was in the same position. Following a good start, the Italian went wide in Turn 14 on the third lap, forcing him to mount a difficult charge to make up lost positions. With teammate Nicky Hayden and fellow Ducati rider Andrea Iannone both dropping out, Dovizioso was able to take the chequered flag in eighth place.

Despite starting from the fourth row, Hayden did well in the early going and had climbed to eighth place by the third lap. Unfortunately, his bike suffered an engine problem at the end of lap eight, forcing him to retire. The engine will be sent back to the factory in Bologna to be analysed by the Corse technicians.

The MotoGP teams now head straight to Phillip Island in Australia, where the second leg of this overseas tripleheader will take place in one week’s time.

Andrea Dovizioso – Ducati Team, 8th – “I had a good start and was trying to stay with Smith, but I was very close to the limit and made a small mistake in Turn 14, where I closed the front. I went off-track and lost nearly ten seconds. Then it took at least seven corners for the normal grip on the right side of the tyre to come back, and I’m not sure why. We can’t be happy because our lap times were pretty disappointing. At the moment, it’s very hard for us; the other bikes have different characteristics and we aren’t able to close on them.”

Nicky Hayden – Ducati Team, DNF – “It’s a real shame because yesterday before FP4, the team made a good step with the bike. I didn’t ride well in qualifying, but this morning I was able to go faster than I had all weekend and had a pretty decent pace. In the race, I started eleventh but was able to move up a few spots and was having the best race I’ve had in a while. I was pulling away from Dovi pretty well and had just closed onto the back of Bradley. He was a little faster than I was in a few places, but I was better in some other spots. Just as I tipped it into the last corner, I heard a strange noise. I was hoping it was something on his bike, but when I opened the gas it was clear it was me. We need to let the engineers check out the engine to see what the problem was. It’s just a shame for me and the team to start the three-week trip this way.”

Paolo Ciabatti – Ducati MotoGP Project Director – “We’ve already sent Nicky’s engine to Bologna to be checked by the racing department, so we should soon know the real cause of the problem that occurred in the race. It’s a shame because Hayden had done a good warm-up session and was also having a good race, fighting with Smith. As for Andrea, he made a small mistake in the early laps and unfortunately, he immediately lost touch with Hayden, Iannone and Smith, forcing him to work his way back up. Once again, we don’t get much satisfaction from this race in Malaysia.”

– PBM Report

For the second Grand Prix in succession, it was a case of what might have been for the Penrith-based PBM MotoGP Team as both Michael Laverty and Damian Cudlin left round 15 of the MotoGP World Championship at Sepang empty handed.

In a virtual repeat scenario of two weeks ago at Aragon, Ulsterman Laverty crashed out aboard the CRT-specification Aprilia ART and Australian Cudlin retired the PBM-chassised Aprilia with a technical problem on his second ride for the team.

Laverty, from Toome in County Antrim, on the Rapid Solicitors and Minxflix.com-sponsored Aprilia ART for the second meeting, was continuing his progress aboard the machine and inside the top 20 for most of Free Practice at the Malaysian track, eventually qualifying on row seven in 19th place.

Meanwhile German-based Cudlin spent more time getting used to the unique Rapid Solicitors and Minxflix.com-sponsored PBM machine and qualified in 24th place on row eight.

In the race, both Laverty and Cudlin got good starts and ran strongly for the opening laps but for Michael, he was deemed to have been one of three riders who jumped the start and was penalised with a ride through penalty. What made it worse for the former British Supersport champion was that he was up to 15th place when he had to enter the pits for the penalty.

Cudlin was inside the top 20 when he retired on lap seven with a technical problem and the team’s day was compounded when Laverty crashed out at the final hairpin on unlucky lap 13 when pushing to make up the time lost in the pits.

Despite not scoring points since round three at Jerez, Laverty remains in 24th overall in the MotoGP World Championship standings in his debut season. In the Claiming Rules Teams (CRT) class, Laverty is in tenth whereas PBM occupy eighth in the Constructors Championship and 12th in the Teams Championship in their debut season with their brand new British-built machine.

Michael Laverty: “Things didn’t quite go my way on race day here at Sepang. Hector Barbera jumped the start in front of me, and I instinctively dropped the clutch and jerked forward. Unfortunately any movement before the lights is deemed a jump start. I was up to 15th position but the ride through penalty ruined any chance of scoring points which we had the pace to do today. I then had a small crash pushing hard trying to catch the guys in front. Hopefully a bit of luck comes our way next weekend in Phillip Island.”

Damian Cudlin: “Bad luck struck again which was a real pity. Before the exhaust ruptured I’d moved forward in the race and was enjoying a scrap with Staring and Scassa, but eventually the seat unit turned into a frying pan and I couldn’t sit on it any longer, I think I’ll need some Aloe Vera lotion for my butt tonight! Despite another setback, I feel we made progress here this weekend and I’m really enjoying riding for the PBM Team. Hopefully luck will finally swing our way at Phillip Island next week.”

Phil Borley, Technical Director: “After a double DNF at the last race, I didn’t think things could get any worse, but in Sepang it certainly didn’t get any better either! Michael got caught out with another rider’s jump start and after serving a ride through penalty he suffered a crash later in the race, so not a good afternoon. Damian was having a strong race but suffered a failure of a new performance upgrade component, which resulted in excessive heat being transferred to the seat unit, making it impossible to continue. Although we were aware of the fragility of this component, we deemed the performance gain was worth the risk but have learned the hard way to be more cautious in the future. On the positive side, both the bike setting and Damian’s feeling with the bike and tyres is improving and as he has previous race experience at the next two circuits we are hopeful of achieving some good results.”

– Bridgestone Report

Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Medium & Hard. Rear: Soft, Medium (Symmetric) & Hard (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Hard (Main) & Soft (Alternative)
Weather: Dry. Ambient 32-33°C; Track 43-46°C (Bridgestone measurement)

Dani Pedrosa overcame his heartbreak from the last round at Aragon as the Repsol Honda rider dominated today’s race at Sepang International Circuit to win his second successive Malaysian Grand Prix.

Pedrosa made a fantastic start from fifth on the grid to and to slot into second place behind Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo at the first corner. On the fifth lap, Pedrosa squeezed past Lorenzo and then led all the way to the chequered flag. In second place was Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez, the championship leader also getting past Lorenzo who rounded out the podium in third position. Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro was once again the best of the CRT riders, taking ninth place in Malaysia.

Conditions for on race day were dry and the warmest of the entire race weekend with a peak track temperature of 46°C recorded at the start of the race. The warmer conditions didn’t have an effect on tyre choice, with riders choosing the same tyre combinations used during practice and qualifying. All but two riders on the grid selected the harder rear slick option, while only five of the twenty-three starters chose the harder front slick. Despite the hot conditions, the performance of all the slick compounds used in the race was consistent, with Marquez setting a new Circuit Record Lap of 2’01.415, and the overall race time was eighteen seconds quicker than the existing record.

With three rounds remaining, Marquez extends his points lead over Jorge Lorenzo to forty-three points, while Pedrosa’s third victory of the season sees him remain third overall, though he reduces the gap to Lorenzo to eleven points.

Hiroshi Yamada – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department – “Today we saw a wonderful performance from Dani to score his second straight Malaysian Grand Prix, so congratulations to him and the Repsol Honda team. There was great racing throughout the field today, particularly in the early stages of the contest and I am sure the sell-out crowd of 84,250 enjoyed the show put on by the riders today. The crowds for the Malaysian Grand Prix keep growing and after today’s spectacle, I have no doubt interest in this series will continue to grow in this region. We now head straight to Phillip Island for the second of the three back-to-back fly away rounds as the championship heads towards an exciting conclusion.”

Masao Azuma – Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department – “Tyre performance today in the warmer conditions was very good with a new race lap and overall race time record being set and feedback from the riders indicates that tyre degradation over the race distance was predictable. Although track temperatures were warmer today, they weren’t at a level where it resulted in riders deviating from the tyre choices they made yesterday in practice and qualifying, with most riders preferring softer slick options front and rear. We had typically unsettled conditions here at Sepang, but our tyre allocation for the weekend was up to the task, and we now look forward to Phillip Island which is the most demanding race on our tyres.“

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda – Race Winner – “It was a great feeling to come back and win this race, especially as it is quite hard physically. I didn’t have the best weekend early on, but I managed to come back strong today and get the win. At the last race I also felt I had the pace to win but unfortunately I crashed, but after today’s performance I’d like to thank my team, my fans and my family for their support.”

–  Qualifying – Marquez takes Sepang Pole Position ahead of Valentino Rossi and Cal Crutchlow

Marc Marquez will start from a fourth consecutive MotoGP™ pole position for the Shell Advance Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix. Multiple Sepang winner Valentino Rossi lines up second from Britain’s Cal Crutchlow, with title contenders Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa on the second row of the grid.

Having crashed out in dramatic fashion at MotorLand Aragón, it was Pedrosa who topped the first three practice sessions at the Sepang International Circuit. However, when it came to qualifying, the 2012 race winner was unable to muster anything other than fifth place, six tenths of a second down on Marquez’s 2’00.011 pole which breaks Casey Stoner’s record of six years ago. This marks Marquez’s eighth pole of 2013, his fourth in succession and fifth from the latest six race events.

Rain had hit just before Qualifying 2, yet had dried out in most places of the track for slicks to be a viable option. However, riders were initially cautious, with many avoiding near crashes at Turn 6, which was still damp. Only in their second runs were riders able to push closer to their true potential.

In a repeat of the German GP front row, albeit with the second and third-placed riders reversed, Rossi and Crutchlow will start second and third for their respective Yamaha Factory Racing and Monster Yamaha Tech3 outfits. In the case of the nine-time World Champion, he provisionally held pole position after enjoying a slipstream from Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso down the back straight, whereas Crutchlow celebrates a first front row start since his home race at Silverstone last month.

Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing), who won his first MotoGP™ title at Sepang in 2010, will start fourth after missing out on pole by half a second. Behind the reigning World Champion, Marquez’s teammate Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) misses the front row despite his rapid pace throughout practice, while the championship contenders will be accompanied on Row 2 by Alvaro Bautista; incidentally, the GO&FUN Honda Gresini rider will rise to sixth in the riders’ standings if he finishes fifth or higher in the race, as LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl was put out of action after suffering a right ankle fracture through a crash in final practice.

Row 3 will consist of Tech3’s Bradley Smith, equalling his second best MotoGP™ qualifying position of seventh from the aforementioned Dovizioso and leading CRT runner Aleix Espargaro (Power Electronics Aspar), who passed through to the final shootout from Q1. Andrea Iannone rounds out the top ten for Energy T.I. Pramac Racing from Ducati Team’s Nicky Hayden, whereas the absent Bradl qualified 12th but is now set to return to Barcelona for surgery. This promotes NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards to a fourth row position, with the grid completed by Damian Cudlin who contrary to initial plans races again with PBM this weekend.

Heading into Sunday’s race, which begins at 4pm local time (GMT +8) and with rain expected by many, Marquez heads Lorenzo in the standings by 39 points. Pedrosa is third overall and 59 points off the lead, meaning he could be mathematically ruled out of title contention depending on the results of Sunday’s 15th round of the season.

–  MotoGP™ Qualifying Practice Classification
1 Marc Marquez 2’00.011 SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
2 Valentino Rossi 2’00.336 ITA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing
3 Cal Crutchlow 2’00.359 GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
4 Jorge Lorenzo 2’00.578 SPA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing
5 Dani Pedrosa 2’00.692 SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
6 Alvaro Bautista 2’00.974 SPA HONDA Go & Fun Honda Gresini
7 Bradley Smith 2’01.306 GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
8 Andrea Dovizioso 2’01.635 ITA DUCATI Ducati Team
9 Aleix Espargaro 2’02.151 SPA ART Power Electronics Aspar
10 Andrea Iannone 2’02.536 ITA DUCATI Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Team
11 Nicky Hayden 2’02.900 USA DUCATI Ducati Team
12 Stefan Bradl 2’01.083 GER HONDA LCR Honda MotoGP
13 Colin Edwards 2’02.858 USA FTR-KAWASAKI NGM Mobile Forward Racing
14 Claudio Corti 2’03.175 ITA FTR-KAWASAKI NGM Mobile Forward Racing
15 Hector Barbera 2’03.212 SPA FTR Avintia Blusens
16 Hiroshi Aoyama 2’03.418 JAP FTR Avintia Blusens
17 Yonny Hernandez 2’03.651 COL DUCATI Ignite Pramac Racing Team
18 Randy De Puniet 2’03.805 FRA SUZUKI Suzuki Test Team
19 Michael Laverty 2’04.198 GBR PBM Paul Bird Motorsport
20 Danilo Petrucci 2’04.310 ITA IODA-SUTER Came IodaRacing Project
21 Luca Scassa 2’05.199 ITA ART Cardion AB Motoracing
22 Bryan Staring 2’06.038 AUS FTR-HONDA Go & Fun Honda Gresini
23 Lukas Pesek 2’06.203 CZE IODA-SUTER Came IodaRacing Project
24 Damian Cudlin 2’06.273 AUS PBM Paul Bird Motorsport

–  Moto2

Tito Rabat continued his domination of the Sepang weekend by clinching pole position for the Moto2™ Shell Advance Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix. Having locked out every session so far, the Spaniard retained the top spot, but both Tom Luthi and Pol Espargaro were less than one tenth of a second slower. Championship leader Scott Redding will start the race from tenth on the grid.

Sublime all weekend, Rabat sealed his second pole (his first having come in Jerez) with a 2’07.063 lap time. As he and Tuenti HP 40 teammate Espargaro sandwich Interwetten Paddock Moto2 Racing’s Luthi into second place, Espargaro is seven positions in front of championship rival Redding, who once again struggle with traffic; however, Redding started 13th last time out in Aragón but was able to finish one position behind Espargaro. At present, the Englishman heads Espargaro by 20 points, with Rabat 44 behind the leader.

Row 2 will be filled by Came Iodaracing Project’s Johann Zarco, Marc VDS Racing Team’s Mika Kallio and Italtrans Racing Team’s Takaaki Nakagami, who re-joined the session after a crash at the final corner. Alex de Angelis will line up seventh for NGM Mobile Forward Racing from Xavier Simeon (Maptaq SAG Zelos Team) and Jordi Torres (Aspar Team Moto2). Joining Redding on Row 4 will be Dominique Aegerter (Technomag carXpert) and Marcel Schrotter (Maptaq SAG Zelos Team).

Moto2™ Qualifying Practice Classification
1- Tito Rabat ITA Kalex 2:07.063
2- Thomas Luthi SWI Suter+0.018
3- Pol Espargaro SPA Kalex +0.098

– Moto3™

Moto3™ championship leader Luis Salom has clinched pole position for the Shell Advance Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix, his third of the season. Alexis Masbou and Niccolo Antonelli shone for front row places, while title contenders Alex Rins and Maverick Viñales qualified sixth and ninth, respectively.

Having been seemingly off the pace at Sepang on Friday, Salom (Red Bull KTM Ajo) sent out a warning to rivals by topping the final practice session on Saturday morning. He went on to clinch his first pole for almost four months courtesy of a leading lap time of 2’13.867. The Mallorcan now targets a first victory since Silverstone.

The standout performers were arguably France’s Masbou and Italy’s Antonelli, riding FTR Hondas for their respective Ongetta-Rivacold and GO&FUN Gresini Moto3 outfits. Second place marks Masbou’s best ever World Championship qualifying result, while Antonelli’s first front row slot of the season equals a career best.

Miguel Oliveira will start fourth for Mahindra Racing, ahead of Estrella Galicia 0,0 duo Alex Marquez and Alex Rins, with Rins having won the last two races and heading into this event only nine points behind championship leader and pole-sitter Salom. Caretta Technology – RTG’s Jack Miller and Mahindra’s Efren Vazquez will head Row 3 from Team Calvo’s Viñales.

Viñales – who has demonstrated tremendous consistency so far this year – is currently third in the standings and only 12 points in arrears of Salom, but finds himself ninth on the grid after qualifying seven tenths of a second slower. The top ten was completed by Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3’s Jonas Folger, while local favourite Zulfahmi Khairuddin managed 14th for Red Bull KTM Ajo despite having undergone surgery only last week in order to assist a fractured right wrist.

Also suffering a fractured right wrist, due to separate incidents in this morning’s respective final practice and qualifying sessions, were Kiefer Racing’s Florian Alt and La Fonte Tascaracing’s Alessandro Tonucci; as a result, neither will take any further part in the event. At the end of Qualifying, there was a crash for Ambrogio Racing’s Brad Binder who will start 23rd on the grid.

Moto3™ Qualifying Practice Classification
1- Luis Salom SPA KTM 2:13.867
2- Alexis Masbou FRA FTR Honda +0.118
3- Niccolo Antonelli ITA FTR Honda +0.139

–  HRC Report

World Championship leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda RC213V) scorched to his eighth pole position of the season at sweltering Sepang this afternoon. Qualifying was made somewhat treacherous when a rain shower dampened part of the circuit, causing many riders a frightening moment or two. However, the track was dry enough by the end of the 15 minute session for Marquez to increase his pace and establish a new qualifying record. This pole was his fourth in a row, following on from Silverstone, Misano and Aragon.

The remarkable 20-year-old carries a 39 point advantage into tomorrow’s race which is arguably the toughest of the year due to the heat and high humidity that push riders, bikes and tyres to the limit.

Team-mate Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V) ended the outing in fifth place to start tomorrow’s race from the middle of the second row. The Spaniard, who is still experiencing pain from his highside crash at Aragon two weeks ago, topped free practice but when the rain came down before qualifying, he decided to take fewer risks than usual, rather than chance aggravating his injuries with another tumble. Winner here last year, the former 250 and 125 World Champion is taking painkilling pills to tackle the discomfort he has from his bruised right hip and left buttock.

Alvaro Bautista (Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini RC213V) will start the race next to Pedrosa after qualifying sixth fastest. The Spaniard had been confident of a good qualifying session but he wasn’t able to fully evaluate a settings change during the final free practice session. That and the tricky conditions prevented him from reaching his own limit.

Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda RC213V) was ruled out of tomorrow’s race when he slid off at Turn One during FP4, shortly before qualifying got underway. The German lost the front in what shouldn’t have been an injurious crash, then caught his right foot as he slid of the track and fractured the ankle. The former Moto2 World Champion will have the break fixed by specialists as soon as possible with the hope of riding in next weekend’s Australian GP. The injury is a real blow for the German who has been gathering momentum at recent races. He had ended free practice here a close fourth fastest.

Bryan Staring (GO&FUN Honda Gresini FTR Honda) put his CRT machine 22nd on the grid. The Australian isn’t happy with his pace and hopes he can find something extra for the race.

Outside contender for the Moto2 World Championship Esteve Rabat (Tuenti HP 40 Pons Kalex) took pole position in the hard-fought Honda-powered category, his first since May’s Spanish GP, which he won. The Spaniard ended the session a slender 0.018 seconds ahead of Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Paddock Suter). Pol Espargaro (Tuenti HP40 Pons Kalex), who currently lies second in the title battle, took the final spot on the front row, 0.080 seconds behind Luthi, which means that the front row is covered by less than one tenth of a second.

Johann Zarco (Came Ioda Racing Project Suter) was three tenths further back to lead row two in fourth place, just ahead of Mika Kallio (Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex) and Takaaki Nakagami (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex).

The third row consists of Alex De Angelis ((NGM Mobile Forward Racing Speed Up), Xavier Simeon (Desguaces La Torre Maptaq Kalex) and Jordi Torres (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2 Suter). World Championship leader Scott Redding (Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex) could do no better than tenth, 0.917 seconds off pole, due to rear-grip issues.

Moto3 qualifying started on a damp track, which gave Alexis Masbou, (Ongetta-Rivacold FTR Honda), Romano Fenati (San Carlo Team Italia FTR Honda) and Jack Miller (Caretta Technology – RTG FTR Honda) the chance to show their talent. At one point the Frenchman, Italian and Australian were first, second and third.

Masbou kept up his impressive pace to end the session in second place, just over a tenth of a second behind World Championship leader Luis Salom (KTM). It was the Frenchman’s best grid position of the year and he thinks he can run at the front tomorrow, so long as he gets away with the lead group.

Just as impressive was Italian teenager Niccolo Antonelli (GO&FUN Gresini FTR Honda) in third place, making it two Hondas on the front row.

Miller ended the session in seventh place to lead the third row. The next Honda men were Fenati in 13th and Isaac Vinales (Bimbo Ongetta-Centro Seta FTR Honda) in 18th.

Tomorrow’s Malaysian GP is the first of three consecutive races, with the Australian and Japanese GPs following over the next two Sundays.

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda: pole position, 2m 00.011s
“I’m really happy with this pole position, particularly as earning it was a little different to my previous poles. At the start of qualifying there were two completely wet corners, which made it hard to put in a hot lap as we had to calculate the amount of risk, whilst still maintaining our speed. I knew that the final lap of the session would be definitive, because the surface was drying out and conditions were getting better by the minute. Things worked out for us and I set a time that I really wasn’t expecting. Tomorrow will be a different story, because Lorenzo and Dani both have a great pace, so we shall see if we have a bit of good fortune and the conditions remain dry.”

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 5th, 2m 00.692s
“Qualifying today was difficult to tackle, due to the rainfall, but in the end we all opted to go out on slicks. I was not able to clock the best time but I am happy with the pace that we have had during practice. Let’s see if tomorrow we can get a good start in the race.”

Alvaro Bautista, Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini: 6th, 2m 00.974s
“The second row is not bad considering what a tough day we have had today. We worked hard this morning to improve our pace and made a little progress but not enough. We worked on a different setting in the final free practice this afternoon, based on what we used in preseason testing, and it felt good but it only lasted for a lap because we had a little problem. So we went out in qualifying not feeling entirely confident with the setting and with the track conditions being less than perfect in a few places because of the rain. Overall if things had worked out better for us I could have gone much faster but the second row is still important. We have a few things to check with the setting in morning warm-up and then hopefully we can have a strong race.”

Stefan Bradl, LCR Honda MotoGP: DNS
“I was quite confident in the final practice and we were on a new tyre to get ready for QP2. So I started to push but for some reasons I felt a bit strange with the rear tyre because I could not get the proper grip quickly. Thus I tried to push on braking a bit too much for the first corner so I lost the front. Honestly it was not a heavy crash but I was unlucky. The handle bar of my bike hit the plastic grass and it comes up (not flat anymore) and my right leg got stuck in there. I immediately felt the pain and the x-ray exam reveals the fracture of the right malleolus.”

Bryan Staring, GO&FUN Honda Gresini: 2m 06.038s
“I am pretty disappointed to be honest because we have not made much progress on the lap times we set here during preseason testing. I can’t honestly explain exactly why this is but clearly we’re not fast enough. Hopefully we will have a turnaround overnight.”

Moto2 rider quotes

Esteve Rabat, Tuenti HP 40 Pons: pole position, 2m 07.063s
“I’m very happy with this pole position and even more so with my rhythm for the race because it’s very good. We have found a very good bike set-up for tomorrow which makes me feel quite confident. As always, I will give my 100 per cent, try and get a good start and see what’s the best result we can achieve at the end of the race.”

Thomas Luthi, Interwetten Paddock: 2nd, 2m 07.081s
“I hope I can go with Tito [Rabat]. He has been very strong all weekend, and yesterday I didn’t think it would be possible to catch him but now we are very close. We have been getting better all weekend, so I hope that the race will be dry. I felt confident in qualifying and we have a good pace. In the race I hope Tito cannot make the early break like he did at Aragon.”

Pol Espargaro, Tuenti HP40 Pons: 3rd, 2m 07.161s
“The race will be hard because the heat here is amazing. I’m surprised because I didn’t expect to be on the front row. We made an amazing improvement in FP3 – we tried a different tyre and a completely different setting from yesterday. The weekend is going very well. We have a good rhythm and tomorrow we will see what happens in the race.”

Honda Moto3 Rider quotes

Alexis Masbou, Ongetta-Rivacold: 2nd, 2m 13.985s
“That was good! The track was still damp in a few places, so the conditions weren’t perfect, which helped us because I don’t think second place would’ve been possible in normal conditions. But I was very nearly fastest in FP1, so we are going pretty well here, especially since I lost a little time on my best lap when someone got in my way. I had a crash this morning – I made a mistake when I was trying a different tyre. Tomorrow I will try and go with the first group – we have the rhythm – but it will depend on the start and the first few laps. It won’t be easy because we have two long straights here.”

Niccolo Antonelli, GO&FUN Gresini: 3rd, 2m 14.006s
“I am delighted to have qualified on the front row and to finally get my hands on a new cap! The team have done a great job and I have been able to repay them with a performance that gives us all a great boost. We have been making good progress for the last few races and this result confirms our good form. It won’t be an easy race tomorrow but starting from the front row will be important and I want to make the most of the opportunity ahead of me.”

Jack Miller, Caretta Technology – RTG: 7th, 2m 14.436s
“That could’ve been better but nevertheless it was all right. The track was still damp at the last corner and in the change of direction between five and six – a couple of times the bike lit up. Things are going pretty good – the bike is pretty strong and I think the KTMs are struggling a bit with the humidity. It could’ve been a different story if the track had been fully dry, but seventh is good enough, we can deal with it.”

– Yamaha Report

Yamaha Factory Racing rider Valentino Rossi enjoyed his best qualifying heat of the season today scoring second on the grid for tomorrow’s Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix. The 15-minute qualifying heat was one of the most complicated of the season with uncertain track conditions after a pre-session rain shower tested the rider skills to the limit. Having saved a big moment at turn six on his first lap, Rossi put his head down and set a 2’03.499 to take provisional pole position. A flurry of activity at the top followed and the nine-time champion came in to change to a fresh rear tyre in third position. As the last minutes counted down Rossi became a key protagonist in the battle for pole, delivering a scorching 2’00.336 lap to take provisional pole, a position he held for a few seconds before a final hot lap from rival Marc Marquez moved him to second, 0.325 seconds from pole.

Defending world champion Jorge Lorenzo shared a similar experience to his teammate Rossi, having a big moment at turn six on his first lap. Like Rossi he was also able to save it and then returned to the pits to watch the session unfold and decide on a strategy. As the lap times began to tumble he came back out with six minutes remaining and immediately took provisional pole with a 2’00.792 second lap. He kept the pressure on, immediately dropping further with 2’00,578. A lack of trust in the treacherous track conditions held him back from attempting a perfect lap, his time good enough to take fourth on the grid on the second row, 0.567 seconds from pole.

Valentino Rossi – 2nd / 2’00.336 / 7 laps – “I’m very happy about today, from this morning we really improved the bike. We worked hard with the team this weekend and I like the set up a lot, I can really push and have a good pace. Just before qualifying it started to rain and everything became more difficult. I expected it to be full dry but two or three corners were not, I had a big moment on the first lap and I was very happy to not crash, I have to say thank you to my Yamaha! After that I tried to push and I made a very good lap time, especially considering the conditions. Now we wait for tomorrow and I hope it will be dry because I think in the dry we are very competitive.”

Jorge Lorenzo – 4th / 2’00.578 / 7 laps – “Today we improved the bike a lot and I feel much more comfortable than yesterday. I did a long run in free practice which went quite well. Then before qualifying we changed the bike a little and we were able to improve it further. The problem was in some corners, especially in turn six and turn seven as it was wet. On my second lap I almost crashed there so I didn’t trust the corners to be able to make a perfect lap.”

Yamaha Factory Racing Wilco Zeelenberg – “It was an exciting qualifying, the rain before the practice was of course not ideal and Jorge found out directly on his first lap that it was wet in places. Luckily he didn’t crash and then he decided to come in. I think in the second stint he didn’t want to do that again so he tried to put the bike in the best possible position with a little bit of safety. Second row is a little disadvantage but with our starts I think we should be fine tomorrow, we’re feeling quite confident.”

Yamaha Factory Racing Massimo Meregalli – “An unusual qualifying session, the rain came just five minutes before starting so the conditions were very tricky. Both Jorge and Vale almost crashed on their first tyres but were lucky. Starting from first and second row here is very important as always. We improved the bike a lot over today and now we are ready to start the race tomorrow. We have to see the weather forecast as unfortunately it looks like it’s going to be wet. We haven’t had any possibility to do any practice in the wet conditions so it’s going to be interesting tomorrow.”

Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider Cal Crutchlow made a welcome return to the front row of the grid in Malaysia this afternoon, the British rider dodging rain showers throughout the second day at Sepang to finish third fastest in a dramatic conclusion to qualifying. Rain showers had fallen on and off throughout today’s proceedings and when a downpour fell just minutes before the start of QP2, it looked like the 15-minute session would be disrupted by rain. Fortunately it was only a very short cloudburst but the session commenced with some corners still damp. Crutchlow though superbly calculated where he could push hard to battle for a third pole position throughout a tense and exciting QP2. A lap of 2.01.801 put Crutchlow on top of the rankings by just 0.006s over Dani Pedrosa shortly after the halfway stage. And in a frantic last lap sprint in improving conditions, the 27-year-old improved his pace to a 2.00.359 to clinch a deserved spot on the front row of the grid for the seventh time in 2013.

Today’s QP2 session was also a positive experience for rookie Bradley Smith, who too mastered the unpredictable track conditions with supreme confidence to score his best qualifying result since the Czech Republic round in August. The 22-year-old got a massive confidence in the earlier FP4 session when he set the seventh best time and he took that impressive form into QP2. A best lap of 2.01.306 was just over 0.3s away from clinching a second row start and he will start the physically demanding 20-lap race from seventh position.

Cal Crutchlow – 3rd 2.00.359 – 7 laps
“I am really happy to be back on the front row because it was not an easy session at all. It was hard with a dark visor to see where the track was wet and in some corners it was pretty tricky. It was a bit of a lottery with the damp sections and I think it came down to who was willing to take the most risks right at the end when the track was improving. Today’s result is a great reward for my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew because they have done a brilliant job giving me a very competitive package this weekend. It has been tough for me physically because of the pain coming from my right arm. I first damaged it at Silverstone but the pain has been pretty bad this weekend and I’m a bit surprised because I felt nothing in Misano and Aragon. The swelling is pretty big but I am really motivated for tomorrow’s race. It is going to be a very tough race in the heat and humidity but hopefully I can put up a good fight. It will be hard for the tyres as well because 20-laps is a long race and the tyres have been going off quite quickly.”

Bradley Smith – 7th 2.01.306 – 7 laps
“Today was the first opportunity to see how much I have improved compared to the tests I did here in February. Qualifying was the first time all weekend when I ran low fuel and new tyres like we did in testing and I am happy with the performance to finish seventh. The conditions were not ideal at all and it was a bit sketchy at Turn 6 and 7 after the rain showers. The team though did a great job and I’ve done some longer runs to check tyre life and I’m happy in that area. We have also improved my feeling with a full fuel load, so hopefully I can have a strong race. It will be hard to fight for the top six but my aim will be to get a good start and go with the leading group in the early stages to try and learn as much as possible. A big plus this weekend has been that we have improved in every session and made good progress with the bike set-up, so I’ve got more confidence for the race than normal.”

– Ducati Report

Today’s MotoGP Q2 session took place in extremely challenging conditions at Sepang International Circuit. Following a lunchtime rain shower, the track surface was spotted with damp patches when the session kicked off, and with the possibility that the weather could worsen again, riders were forced to ride very close to the limit. Instead, the situation improved toward the end of the session, making it possible for riders to drop their times in the final laps.

Andrea Dovizioso managed the situation well and set his best time of 2:01.635 on his very last lap, putting him eighth best at 1.6 seconds from pole-man Marc Marquez. Nicky Hayden, meanwhile, wasn’t satisfied with his performance in the damp Turn 6, which contributed to his eleventh-place finish. The Ducati Team riders will start tomorrow’s Shell Advance Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix from the third and fourth rows, respectively.

Andrea Dovizioso – Ducati Team, 8th (2:01.635)
“The session was a bit more challenging than usual, and very dangerous because the colour of the asphalt here is strange—quite light—and it’s difficult to see where it’s wet. In fact, many of us risked crashing on our out-laps, in Turn 6. It was damp and I didn’t see if there were any flags, and slicks don’t work very well in those conditions! It was very difficult to manage, because the track dried quickly in the heat, but we could only push at 100% on the last lap; in those circumstances, it depends how much you want to risk. I kept a bit of margin in those two corners, but I pushed hard on the rest—I hadn’t done a 2:01.6 the entire weekend, so it’s not bad considering I didn’t push hard in that section. We’ll see how things go in the race tomorrow, but at least we start from the third row.”

Nicky Hayden – Ducati Team, 11th (2:02.900)
“It’s a real shame about how my qualifying session went, and it was my fault. In FP4 I went the quickest I’ve been all weekend and had the best feeling, and I thought I could maybe do something better in qualifying. Unfortunately, a rain shower came through at lunchtime, and when I went out I had a bad feeling with my GP13, especially in the wet part at Turn 6. It was really hard to see where the track was wet and where it was dry and to understand how much grip it had. That’s no excuse, as everybody improved their lap times and I didn’t. I just couldn’t get hooked up through the wet part. It was my problem and I apologize to the team. We’ll see if we can recover something tomorrow.”

–  Bridgestone Report

Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Medium & Hard. Rear: Soft, Medium (Symmetric) & Hard (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Hard (Main) & Soft (Alternative)
Weather: FP3 – Dry. Ambient 28-28°C; Track 34-35°C (Bridgestone measurement)
FP4/QP – Dry. Ambient 29-30°C; Track 36-41°C (Bridgestone measurement)

Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez set yet another qualifying lap record at Sepang, the current MotoGP™ championship leader clocking a time of 2’00.011 to shave three-tenths of a second off the existing mark.

Marquez claimed his eighth pole position of the season on his last timed lap and will line up on the front now next to a pair of Yamaha riders. Yamaha Factory Racing’s Valentino Rossi’s time of 2’00.336 slots the nine-time World Champion in at second on the grid for tomorrow’s race, while Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Cal Crutchlow was third quickest and a mere 0.023 seconds behind Rossi. Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro topped Qualifying Practice 1 and showed strong pace in QP2 by qualifying in ninth place with a time of 2’02.151.

Conditions were predominantly dry today, the exception being a rain shower at the end of QP1 which caused a premature ending to the session, and caused created greasy track conditions for the start of QP2. Track conditions improved throughout the second qualifying session, with the pace being the quickest of the weekend and most riders using the combination of the softer front and rear slicks. Some riders assessed the hard compound front slick tyre in practice, although the softer front and rear slicks are still preferred by most riders and will be the most widely used options should the race be dry.

The final session before tomorrow’s race is the Warm Up session at 1140 local time (GMT +8), with the twenty lap Malaysian MotoGP™ race set to start at 1600.

Masao Azuma – Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
“We had the same kind of weather conditions and track temperatures as yesterday, and this was reflected in the tyre choices by the riders today being quite similar to what was used in Friday practice. The softer slick options were again preferred by the majority of riders, although feedback from some of the CRT riders indicates that some of them could choose the harder options for the race, particularly for the front tyre. Given the rain we had at the end of QP1, the pace in QP2 was extremely quick which shows how the improved feel offered by our latest generation of tyres gives riders the confidence to attack in less than ideal conditions. It was also pleasing to see another qualifying lap record broken and overall it was a positive day for Bridgestone here at Sepang.”

Day2_Marquez_1024

 

–  MotoGP 2013 – Round 15 – Sepang
–  Pedrosa lays down the law as Malaysian GP gets underway

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.

– Practice Results
1 Dani Pedrosa 2’00.554 SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
2 Marc Marquez 2’01.087 SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
3 Cal Crutchlow 2’01.423 GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
4 Valentino Rossi 2’01.538 ITA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing
5 Alvaro Bautista 2’01.659 SPA HONDA Go & Fun Honda Gresini
6 Jorge Lorenzo 2’01.710 SPA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing
7 Stefan Bradl 2’01.727 GER HONDA LCR Honda MotoGP
8 Nicky Hayden 2’02.373 USA DUCATI Ducati Team
9 Andrea Dovizioso 2’02.487 ITA DUCATI Ducati Team
10 Bradley Smith 2’02.551 GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
11 Aleix Espargaro 2’02.610 SPA ART Power Electronics Aspar
12 Andrea Iannone 2’02.819 ITA DUCATI Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Team
13 Hector Barbera 2’03.225 SPA FTR Avintia Blusens
14 Colin Edwards 2’03.707 USA FTR-KAWASAKI NGM Mobile Forward Racing
15 Yonny Hernandez 2’03.780 COL DUCATI Ignite Pramac Racing Team
16 Randy De Puniet 2’03.922 FRA SUZUKI Suzuki Test Team
17 Hiroshi Aoyama 2’04.414 JAP FTR Avintia Blusens
18 Claudio Corti 2’04.807 ITA FTR-KAWASAKI NGM Mobile Forward Racing
19 Danilo Petrucci 2’04.965 ITA IODA-SUTER Came IodaRacing Project
20 Michael Laverty 2’05.551 GBR PBM Paul Bird Motorsport
21 Luca Scassa 2’05.598 ITA ART Cardion AB Motoracing
22 Bryan Staring 2’06.538 AUS FTR-HONDA Go & Fun Honda Gresini
23 Lukas Pesek 2’07.024 CZE IODA-SUTER Came IodaRacing Project
24 Damian Cudlin 2’07.122 AUS PBM Paul Bird Motorsport

– Moto2™

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.

– Moto3™

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.

– Yamaha Report

The first of the three overseas triple-header weekend’s kicked off today in Sepang with the first two free practice sessions for the Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix. Nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi made solid improvements over the two practice sessions to wrap up the day in fourth in the combined times. The Italian made a 0.5 second improvement over the two sessions and finished 0.115 seconds behind Cal Crutchlow in third.

Defending world champion Jorge Lorenzo had a tougher first day in Sepang. The Mallorcan struggled to find an optimum set up for the Malaysian circuit with mid-corner grip issues affecting his final times. He completed the first day in fifth overall, 0.085 seconds behind his teammate Rossi.

Valentino Rossi -4th / 2’01.538 / 18 laps
“For me personally, especially this afternoon, it was a good practice because we improved the setting of the bike a lot. We improved with the new tyre and with the old tyre I can stay with a good pace so I feel better on the bike. For sure we have to improve, but this afternoon I feel good. It seems our competitors are a little faster than us but I will try 100% because in the last races Jorge is always there fighting at the front. It will be hard but we have to concentrate on the bike. We are not very far but we have a small gap to recover.”

Jorge Lorenzo – 5th / 2’01.623 / 14 laps
“We are investigating what happened today because I didn’t have confidence in the middle of the corners and also with acceleration. I had a lot of spinning and the bike is very aggressive so we have to see what we can change for tomorrow to try to get back a good feeling with the bike again.”

Wilco Zeelenberg – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager
“A difficult first practice for us here in Sepang, we struggled a bit to find grip. We need to find out what is going on through the data; we don’t have an answer yet. We need to try to get it on the table before tomorrow morning so we can make the next step in the third practice.”

Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director
“Today didn’t go as we wanted and as we expected. Anyway, we got a lot of data that we can study and for sure we will use it to improve a set up that is now not perfect. We are pretty confident that with the data and the rider comments we can analyse the issues and put together a different set up that will enable Jorge and Vale to get a better consistent pace and speed.”

Crutchlow makes flying start to flyaway triple-header in Sepang

Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider Cal Crutchlow made a fantastic start to the Malaysian MotoGP weekend today, the British rider setting the third fastest time on the opening day of practice at the physically demanding Sepang International Circuit.

Sixth fastest in typically hot and humid conditions in this morning’s opening 45-minute session, Crutchlow was almost a second faster in FP2 to surge up the rankings into the top three behind Spanish duo Dani Pedrosa and World Championship leader Marc Marquez. Crutchlow had struggled this morning with pain in the swollen right arm he first damaged at Silverstone recently, but happily he was able to ride in much less discomfort in FP2 and the improvement in his physical condition was reflected in his pace. The 27-year-old posted a personal best time of 2.01.423 that secured him a top three slot by 0.115s ahead of factory Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi on a track offering excellent grip levels, despite heavy rain falling in between sessions.

Teammate Bradley Smith was also able to enjoy a positive start to arguably the toughest spell of the World Championship campaign, with this weekend’s Sepang race closely followed by back-to-back trips to Australia and Japan.

The rookie finished inside the top 10 in both 45-minute practice sessions and a best lap of 2.02.551 placed him 10th on the combined timesheets. Smith dedicated much of his time on track today to further adapting to a new smoother braking technique he first began experimenting with at the previous round at the Motorland Aragon track in Spain. He also concentrated on his consistency on worn tyres and was satisfied with progress made ahead of planned significant set-up tweaks to evaluate tomorrow in advance of Sunday’s 20-lap race.

Cal Crutchlow 2.01.423 – 35 laps: “It was very difficult this morning to ride at my maximum level because I had some problems with the right arm I first injured during the recent British Grand Prix. I already know I need surgery at the end of the season but until now the big impact my arm took at Silverstone has only given me bad swelling but no pain. This morning instead it hurt me a lot and couldn’t use the arm that well. Fortunately the afternoon session was much better and on my final run of the day we made a positive step and I am pleased to finish inside the top three. I was immediately faster the first time I put in a new tyre because for most of FP2 we worked on the set-up of the bike with worn tyres I’d also used this morning.”

Bradley Smith 10th 2.02.551 – 36 laps: “After testing twice at Sepang in the winter I was looking forward to coming back here to understand how much progress I have made in my rookie season. It is nice to be riding on a track where I’ve got previous experience of riding the YZR-M1 and although I wasn’t able to lap as fast as I did in February, my consistency has improved a lot and that is a positive point. I did a lot of 2.02 laps and I am happy with my pace, but we will look at making some more drastic changes tomorrow to take another step into the 2.01s. I did some good times on old tyres and that gives me confidence that I will be strong in the race on Sunday.”

– Repsol HRC Report

The Malaysian Grand Prix got underway in mixed conditions today, as Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa laid down the marker with a blisteringly fast time in this afternoon’s FP2 session. Teammate, and Championship leader, Marc Marquez finished the day in second place.

2012 race winner Dani was already fastest in the morning, but in the afternoon he improved his time by 0.675s with a lap time of 2’00.554 (just 0.22 off Lorenzo’s record pole time in 2012) on lap 12 of 17. This was all the more impressive considering there was a torrential downpour in-between the sessions, washing away the rubber from the track. Teammate Marc, also second in FP1 this morning, shaved half a second off his morning lap time with 2.01.087 on lap 8 of 17.

Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Marco Simoncelli this weekend, as it marks the second anniversary of the HRC rider’s premature passing during the Malaysian Grand Prix in 2011, he will be forever missed.

Dani Pedrosa 1st 2’00.554
“Today went well; we had two good practice sessions and were able to ride in dry conditions in both the morning and afternoon. In the second session it looked like the track was going to be wet after a brief rain shower in-between FP1 and FP2, but it dried out quickly and we were able to continue working on our setups. When sitting on the bike I have quite a lot of pain, as the seat is very hard, so we shall see if a few more anti-inflammatories can help to alleviate the issue. We might also add a small cushion underneath my leathers, in order to absorb the bumps that we get when riding”

Marc Marquez 2nd 2’01.087
“We came here before in pre-season, when I had barely ridden a MotoGP bike so it was interesting to compare things again so many laps and miles later! I felt comfortable and this is important when trying to be more consistent every lap. On the single lap we are half a second off Dani who was very fast, as he always is at Sepang, but our pace in general isn’t too far off. We have to push hard because if he can do it, that means that the Honda is capable of those times. I was hoping to be more consistent but I had some problems with braking, which we were able to solve in the opening practice session. We still need to improve a few things, but I have realised that we are already fast, straight out of the box.”

– Ducati Report

As expected, the first day of the Shell Advance Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Sepang International Circuit was marked by unpredictable weather, but the first two free-practice sessions saw the MotoGP riders lapping in dry conditions.

Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso were both pleased to finish the day in the top ten in the combined times, as they know that should rain strike tomorrow morning’s session, today’s times could well determine who transfers directly into Q2. Nonetheless, both Ducati Team riders hope to reduce their gaps to the leaders.

Nicky Hayden – Ducati Team, 8th (2:02.373)
“Things went pretty well this morning, but we fell further behind as the day went on. The biggest problem is that I have a lot of chatter, especially from the front and in the fast corners, which makes it very difficult to carry corner speed. That’s a normal problem we had here during testing, so it’s not something we didn’t expect, but we need to try to do something to improve it.”

Andrea Dovizioso – Ducati Team, 9th (2:02.487)
“It was important to make it into the top ten, and it’s good that I managed it while doing an entire session with one tyre, unlike most of the others. The gap to the front is bigger, but that’s normal; there isn’t much grip here and the tyre wears a lot, which hurts us a bit more. The Sepang track is very particular. When it dries, even if there are some wet patches, you can set good times, like Pedrosa did. Sure, the tyres don’t work so well and they wear a bit more, but you can still go fast.”

– Bridgestone Report

Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Medium & Hard. Rear: Soft, Medium (Symmetric) & Hard (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Hard (Main) & Soft (Alternative)
Weather: FP1 – Dry. Ambient 29-30°C; Track 37-41°C (Bridgestone measurement)
FP2 – Dry. Ambient 30-30°C; Track 41-44°C (Bridgestone measurement)

Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa set a sizzling time of 2’00.554 in this afternoon’s Free Practice 2 session to finish half a second clear of his closest rival in the first day of practice at the Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang.

Pedrosa’s time was just two-tenths of a second off the qualifying lap record, the Spaniard topping the opening day ahead of teammate Marc Marquez who was second quickest with a personal best time of 2’01.087. Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Cal Crutchlow was the closest rider to the Honda duo, his lap time of 2’01.423 slotting him in at third in the overall classification. Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro was the quickest of the CRT today, setting a time 2.056 seconds off Pedrosa’s benchmark to finish eleventh on the timesheets.

Dry track conditions greeted riders in both sessions today despite a heavy downpour around midday, with a peak track temperature of 44°C recorded during FP2. At the start of Free Practice One all riders headed out on soft slick options front and rear to gauge the track condition, with two riders assessing the hard compound front slick later on in the morning session. In the second session of the day tyre choice was more varied, with five riders trying the harder rear slick options, while both the soft and hard front slicks were also used. The softer front and rear slick options were preferred by riders today, with almost every rider setting their quickest time on this tyre combination.

Similar weather conditions to today with the chance of rain are forecast for tomorrow. The final ranked practice session, FP3, starts at 0955 local time (GMT +8) before qualifying gets underway from 1410.

Masao Azuma – Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
“Today was a good start to the race weekend and thankfully the heavy rain earlier didn’t disrupt the afternoon session. Softer slick options were preferred by the riders today, though the reasons for this preference were different for the front and rear tyres. The moderate track temperatures meant few riders felt the need to evaluate the harder rear slick options, while for the front, most riders felt that the softer front slick offered better bump absorption in the braking zones, which at this circuit feature quite heavy undulations. Considering we are already near record qualifying pace on the opening day here at Sepang, I expect we will see some more lap records set over the weekend.”

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