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.
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.”
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.”
2013 MotoGP Malaysia
1 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 2’00.554
2 Marc Marquez Honda ESP 2’01.087
3 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha GBR 2’01.423
4 Valentino Rossi Yamaha ITA 2’01.538
5 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 2’01.623
6 Alvaro Bautista Honda ESP 2’01.659
7 Stefan Bradl Honda GER 2’01.727
8 Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 2’02.373
9 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati ITA 2’02.487
10 Bradley Smith Yamaha GBR 2’02.551
11 Aleix Espargaro ART ESP 2’02.610
12 Andrea Iannone Ducati ITA 2’02.819
13 Hector Barbera FTR ESP 2’03.225
14 Colin Edwards FTR Kawasaki USA 2’03.574
15 Yonny Hernandez ART COL 2’03.780
(Casey Stoner, 1-1-2007)
Fastest Lap Ever:
(Jorge Lorenzo, 25-10-2012)
Last Years Winner: