Andrea Dovizioso quick out of the blocks in Malaysia
For the fifth race in succession this season, Michelin’s rain tyres were utilised after torrential rain fell during the lunch interval to completely drench the 5.5km track ahead of FP2.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) was fastest in FP1 at the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix, heading to the top late in FP1 in the dry – and the Championship contender backed it up in a wet FP2 to again head the timesheets.
Andrea Dovizioso – P1
“Today was a very positive day because we were quickest both this morning in the dry and in the afternoon in the wet, and it was very important to start in this way at Sepang. We know that there’s still a lot of work to do, especially in the dry, and we hope to have some sessions with the track in a good condition tomorrow, so that we can prepare the best settings for the race. In any case it was good that we confirmed out pace in the wet and today went even better than last year, so I’m very satisfied: my Desmosedici goes really well in the wet, we’ve got excellent grip and it was quite easy for me to go quick.”
Second overall after a last dash in FP1 was Alvaro Bautista (Pull&Bear Aspar Team), followed by Rookie of the Year Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3).
“My feelings are positive again, both in the dry and in the wet, unlike Australia where I didn’t feel comfortable. The temperature in Sepang is helping us a little more so I am feeling happy at the end of this first day. We have made a comparison between the setup from the February test and the recent races and it is difficult to say which is better. For now, at least, I am happier with the one from the test, when we were fast and consistent. If we can get through to Q2 it would be a good result tomorrow.”
Zarco suffered a crash in the afternoon, but the Frenchman was soon on his feet. Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) was fourth, ahead of Marquez.
Maverick Vinales – P4
“Today I felt good in both the dry and the wet conditions. I think we have good potential here in Malaysia. We still have to work on the set-up of the bike. Sepang is a completely different track to the one in Australia. We have to understand the tyres really well, even if the weather changes so much. We have to understand the tyres to be able to choose the best option for the race. I don‘t know exactly what happened with Barberá, I tried to make the corner and saw him go straight. We were lucky we didn‘t hit each other, only my clutch lever broke off, but I didn‘t see all the action, I just felt it on the bike. I was able to pick up my bike a little bit and didn‘t crash. Anyway, I was feeling good in FP2, I’m happy and let‘s see tomorrow. I have good confidence that we can do well in both conditions.”
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), goes into the weekend 33-points clear of the Dovizioso, the reigning Champion had a number of moments on Day 1, but didn’t suffer a crash.
Marc Marquez – P5
“All in all I’m happy with today, as it wasn’t perfect but wasn’t bad either. We had two different weather conditions and in both cases we weren’t far from the top, even if we must improve some aspects of the setup as we look to find more rear grip. It’s still a bit difficult to understand where we really are in the dry because this morning some riders put on a new tyre in the end, while some others, myself included, did the entire session on the same tyres. Anyway, even if Dovi was a bit faster than us, we were able to stay there with the top guys. We know this is one of the tracks where we struggle most during the season, but at the moment we’ll try and keep working well for the rest of the weekend in order to be ready for Sunday.”
Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) took sixth in the dry, ahead of an impressive first day for Karel Abraham (Pull&Bear Aspar Team) and Hector Barbera (Reale Avintia Racing).
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) took ninth after an early problem that significantly dented track time for the Little Samurai, ahead of Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) completing the top ten. Lorenzo was third in the wet in the afternoon, the same half second off Marquez as Marquez was off Dovizioso at the top.
Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing) was eleventh ahead of compatriot Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), with Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Jack Miller (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) and Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) locking out the fastest fifteen.
Jack Miller can count himself unfortunate not to have secured a crucial place in the top 10 when a near high-side crash on his final lap this morning denied him what looked like being a comfortable passage into the top six.
A best lap of 2’01.803 in less than ideal conditions was still just over a second off the 2015 Sepang race record, but this afternoon’s downpour now means Miller is praying for a dry FP3 session tomorrow morning to give himself another opportunity to clinch a place in Q2.
Jack Miller – P14
“It’s a pity I missed the top 10 this morning because I had to save a massive high-side on my last lap. It was still my best lap but without the big moment I feel I was going to be fast enough to squeeze into the top six, let alone the top 10. I’m happy with how the bike is feeling in the wet and I spent the whole of FP2 out on the same set of tyres. They were pretty worn by the end but I was still able to lap at a consistently fast pace. I hope it is going to be dry for FP3 in the morning to get another crack at Q2. I feel I’ve got the pace to break into that top 10 but it’s out of my hands and I’m relying on Mother Nature to do me a favour!”
It was a notable first day for Michael van der Mark as he rode a MotoGP bike for the first time, putting the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine in P19 in both sessions. In the dry, the 2014 World Supersport Champion was only 2.8 seconds off Dovizioso at the top of the timesheets in FP1.
As direct entry to Q2 is decided in FP3, Valentino Rossi will be the big name praying for the skies to remain dry on Saturday morning – before qualifying begins from 14:10 local time (GMT +8).
Valentino Rossi – P12
“It was a difficult day, but this morning we were lucky because we were able to do some kilometres, some laps, on the dry. The conditions weren’t fantastic, because it was a bit humid, but at the end I could push a bit and my feeling was not so bad. In the last minutes a lot of riders put in the soft rear to stay in the top-10, so I’m just 12th, but my pace was quite good. In the afternoon we could work on the wet, because the conditions were good, it was full wet. We improved compared to Motegi, and I’m in sixth position, but I still don’t feel comfortable with the bike because we don’t have enough rear grip. We need to improve if we want to be competitive in wet conditions.”
MotoGP 2017 – Sepang – Friday Combined Practice Times
ROSSI Valentino 46 ITA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 0.991
IANNONE Andrea 29 ITA Team Suzuki Ecstar 1.069
MILLER Jack 43 AUS EG 0,0 Marc VDS 1.132
ESPARGARO Pol 44 SPA Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 1.160
BAZ Loris 76 FRA Reale Avintia Racing 1.7451
SMITH Bradley 38 GBR Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 1.798
REDDING Scott 45 GBR Octo Pramac Racing 2.385
VAN DER MARK Michael 60 NDL Monster Yamaha Tech 3 2.802
RABAT Tito 53 SPA EG 0,0 Marc VDS 2.860
LOWES Sam 22 GBR Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 2.863
RINS Alex 42 SPA Team Suzuki Ecstar 3.710
Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was quickest out the blocks at the Malaysian GP, topping FP1 in the dry and FP2 then wet with slower laptimes. Oliveira was only 0.073 seconds ahead of points leader Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), with title challenger Tom Lüthi (CarXpert Interwetten) within the same tenth in third.
Tight at the top was a similar story in the afternoon in the wet, as Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) took P1 – 0.034 ahead of Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Racing Team) and 0.065 ahead of Oliveira.
Overall however, Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) was fourth quickest, with Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) completing the top five. Isaac Viñales (BE-A-VIP SAG Team) took an impressive sixth, with Marquez in seventh. Fabio Quartararo (Pons HP 40) was top rookie, ahead of Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP) and Baldassarri as the Italian showed good pace in both the wet and dry.
Simone Corsi (Speed Up Racing) took P11, ahead of the first of the home heroes with Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia) taking twelfth. Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) – winner at the venue in Moto3™ last season – was P13 on Day 1, ahead of Axel Pons (RW Racing GP) and Xavi Vierge (Tech 3 Racing), who locked out the fifteen fastest. Vierge was also notable in the wet in FP2, taking P5.
Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) was quickest on the combined timesheets on Day 1 of the Malaysian GP, with FP1 dry and FP2 a complete turnaround to full wet. The Majorcan was quickest in FP1 and with the weather changing remained unthreatened, with home hero Adam Norrodin (SIC Racing Team) the next man in line in second. It was an impressive opening day for the Malaysian rider – riding for the Sepang International Circuit Team – as he also showed top pace in the wet in FP2; then just ahead of Mir.
Fellow Malaysian rider, wildcard Daniel Kasmayudin, was another to impress in the afternoon – taking seventh in the wet despite a late crash.
On combined timesheets however, Livio Loi (Leopard Racing) made it two Leopard Racing machines in the top three as he took third, ahead of Romano Fenati (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers) in fourth. Enea Bastianini (Estrella Galicia 0,0) completed the top five after a solid first session – and good pace in the wet.
Bo Bendsneyder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was sixth overall and second in the rain, with Andrea Migno (Sky Racing Team VR46) eighth overall ahead of Bendsneyder’s teammate Niccolo Antonelli. Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) took P9, with Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA BOE Racing Team) completing the top ten.
John McPhee (British Talent Team), Marcos Ramirez (Platinum Bay Real Estate), Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46), Manuel Pagliani (CIP) and Jakub Kornfeil (Peugeot MC Saxoprint) rounded out the fastest fifteen – with Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) having a tough morning just off the top fifteen, but going fastest in the wet in FP2.
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