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2011 MotoGP Sepang – Free Practice

The Grand Prix of Malaysia began today at the Sepang circuit with the first free practice sessions of the weekend. Yamaha Factory Racing rider Ben Spies struggled to make improvements over the day, as injuries sustained from his crash in Australia last weekend continued to hamper his ability to push his YZR-M1. He completed the sessions in ninth place, just over two seconds from provisional pole.

Jorge Lorenzo’s replacement rider, Katsuyuki Nakasuga experienced the first Grand Prix sessions of his career, acquainting himself with Lorenzo’s bike and crew. A small crash in the morning warm up on the slippery Sepang circuit resulted in no injuries. An unfortunate second crash followed in the afternoon session, Nakasuga-san dropping to 18th place as he worked on understanding Lorenzo’s YZR-M1.

Ben Spies

Position 9th – Time 2.03.312 – Laps 23

“It’s been a really rough day, coming back after the crash in Australia I’m pretty beat up and not able to ride the bike like I want to which is really showing. We’re doing the best we can but I feel like I’m struggling. We’ll try to get as many points as we can this weekend and keep a reign on fifth place in the Championship.”

Katsuyuki Nakasuga

Position 18th – Time 2.05.390 – Laps 17

“Today was my first day riding in the MotoGP Championship; I wanted to learn as much as I could during the sessions. Unfortunately I crashed this morning but thought that afterwards I would be able to relax a little once it was out of the way. Unfortunately again I crashed this afternoon and I’m not sure why. I’m feeling disappointed about it but will come back tomorrow and try to make sure we improve and have a day without crashing!”

Wilco Zeelenberg – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager

“A very difficult first day. It wasn’t the plan to crash in both practices but you can imagine how difficult it is to take on this challenge. Nakasuga-san put a lot of pressure on himself and maybe tried a little too hard too early. We need to help him find a rhythm and of course he is lacking a bit of speed compared to his competitors. We need to step up a bit tomorrow, not an easy task with the high level of competition on the track.”
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director

“Ben is really suffering with his rib injury so it’s difficult to expect more from him, he is trying as hard as he can. I think that tomorrow he can maybe deliver some better laps. During qualifying you are more focused and can fight the pain for a couple of hot laps. The bike set up is not so bad, at this moment he can’t push hard enough to find any issues or use the full performance of the bike. Nakasuga-san had a difficult start; maybe he felt too much pressure for his first day in MotoGP. At the beginning of the season in testing he put together some great laps so I think he can improve tomorrow.”

Super start for Edwards in sweltering Sepang

Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider Colin Edwards enjoyed a positive start to his preparations for this weekend’s Malaysian MotoGP race at a sweltering hot Sepang circuit today.

The extensive work on the set-up of his YZR-M1 machine during two winter test sessions at the Sepang circuit in February paid instant dividends for Edwards today, the experienced American immediately able to find a fast and consistent rhythm.

He lapped in fourth place for the majority of this afternoon’s second practice session, which took place in typically hot and humid conditions at the 5.548km track.

Air temperatures soared to well over 30 degrees and a best lap of 2.02.991s eventually secured the 37-year-old sixth position on the combined timesheets. Working on improving rear grip in the 32-laps he completed in physically demanding conditions, Edwards was almost 0.8s faster this afternoon. And he is confident with minor modifications to the set-up of his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine ahead of tomorrow’s final practice and qualifying session that he will be challenging for a place on the second row of the grid.

Cal Crutchlow’s third visit of the year to the fast and technical Sepang circuit didn’t run as smoothly as he had hoped. He worked closely with his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew to gain more rear side grip and better turning on corner entry, but he was unable to find a set-up that gave him the confidence to lap in the high 2.02 bracket like Edwards.

The 25-year-old was 0.7s faster in the second session but a best lap of 2.03.901 left him down in 15th on the timesheets. That was just over a second away from fourth and Crutchlow is determined to improve his pace tomorrow to fight a top 10 result in qualifying ahead of Sunday’s 20-lap race.

Colin Edwards

Position 6th – Time 2.02.991 – Laps 32

“Today was a really good day and I was fast straight out of the crate. I was fourth for almost the whole of the second session and I’m happy to end up sixth. We pretty much ran the bike with the same set-up that we left the second test with in February and it felt great. That proves that testing twice here and riding lots of laps in punishing heat does work because we tried a couple of small changes on the bike but pretty much came back to the test setting. The first thing you need here is front-end confidence and the front was awesome right from the start. That gave us an opportunity to focus on improving rear grip and that’s critical here. If you can get a set-up where the rear tyre is driving and not spinning, you can have a good race. The track is lacking a bit of rubber on it compared to the test but apart from that it feels pretty good. The conditions are typically hot here in Sepang but maybe it doesn’t bother me as much as some of the others. I’m from Texas so I live in this type of heat and humidity and I’m pretty much used to it. Even though I’ve done millions of laps around this track I’ve never finished higher than eighth, but after a start like today I’m confident that I can do much better than that.”

Cal Crutchlow

Position 15th – Time 2.03.901 – Laps 33

“Today was pretty tough to be honest and not just because of the extreme heat and humidity. We’re searching for front and rear grip and when the conditions are as hot as here, that’s not an easy task. I’m missing side grip on the rear and like a few other tracks we’ve been to recently, I’m having problems getting the bike turned. The track is obviously in a lot different condition to when we tested here because the times are about two seconds slower, but I’d hoped to be a bit higher up the rankings. I knew it was going to be a tough day because I found this place hard during the two tests at the start of the year. It is such a long lap that it is difficult to get a lap nailed perfectly, but looking at the timesheets I am a second off fourth place and I’m not happy with the bike, so that gives me some encouragement. We’ll continue working hard as always tomorrow and I’m sure we can find a few tenths to move up the order.”

2011 MotoGP Malaysia

Sepang 21/10/2011

1 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 2’01.250
2 Casey Stoner Honda AUS 2’02.070
3 Andrea Dovizioso Honda ITA 2’02.664
4 Marco Simoncelli Honda ITA 2’02.823
5 Hiroshi Aoyama Honda JPN 2’02.951
6 Colin Edwards Yamaha USA 2’02.991
7 Alvaro Bautista Suzuki ESP 2’03.123
8 Randy De Puniet Ducati FRA 2’03.159
9 Ben Spies Yamaha USA 2’03.312
10 Karel Abraham Ducati CZE 2’03.318
11 Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 2’03.445
12 Loris Capirossi Ducati ITA 2’03.595
13 Valentino Rossi Ducati ITA 2’03.677
14 John Hopkins Suzuki USA 2’03.885
15 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha GBR 2’03.901
18 Katsuyuki Nakasuga Yamaha JPN 2’05.996

Circuit Length:
5548

Temp:
32

Weather:
Dry

Lap Record:
2’02.993
(Nicky Hayden, 1/1/2005)

Fastest Lap Ever:
2’00.518
(Valentino Rossi, 10/25/2009)

Last Years Winner:
Valentino Rossi

6 Comments

  1. monsterduc1000 says:

    Rest In Peace Marco! You were a great talent and I will miss seeing you race.

  2. Mickey says:

    Tragic loss for fans of MotoGP

    RIP Marco

  3. Gutterslob says:

    I watched the race. The moment we saw his helmet rolling and him stricken, we feared the worst.
    Sad day for MotoGP. Sad week for motorsport, with IRL driver Dan Wheldon killed last Sunday.

    R.I.P Marco // R.I.P Dan

    🙁

  4. Norm G. says:

    sad tragedy. the word is just filtering stateside. i had to wake up to a text from california.

  5. dave911 says:

    Whoops. Source is MotoGP.com.

  6. dave911 says:

    OMG. “Marco Simoncelli succumbs to injuries sustained at Sepang.” Motorcycle Daily