Miguel Oliveira just nipped World Championship points leader Franco Morbidelli to lead FP1 at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia Friday. Championship contender Thomas Luthi stayed in the hunt with a third-best 2'06.950, less than a tenth from the top spot. The top three riders in the first practice session -- who also are the top three riders in the standings -- were separated by less than a tenth of a second.
Andrea Dovizioso set the fastest time in FP1 with a 2'00.671 in damp-to-drying conditions at the Sepang circuit Friday in Malaysia. Alvaro Bautista, who was quick all session in the heat and humidity, earned the second-fastest Ducati lap, just in front of Yamaha's Johann Zarco (3rd). Dovizioso, who finished 13th last week at Phillip Island, must beat Marc Marquez by at least nine points to keep the championship fight alive for the 18th and final round in Valencia. Points-leader Marquez won last week's race in Australia and now leads the championship by 33 points with two races to go.
Newly crowned Moto3 champion Joan Mir grabbed the top time in the first practice Friday at the Sepang curcuit in Malaysia with a 2'13.129 lap with two minutes left in the session. Adam Norrodin, in his home race, set the second-best time at the session's end. The Malaysian bumped Livio Loi to third. Loi, who remains without a contract for 2018, briefly led the dry session. Romano Fenati, who won in Motegi three weeks ago, took fourth, just in front of Enea Bastinini (5th), completing a Honda sweep of the top five slots.
So just like 2015, the MotoGP paddock packed up after a breathtaking race in Phillip Island and headed to the sweltering tropical heat of Sepang. And once again, two riders fly to Malaysia with a clean shot at the title. Fortunately, though, this time there was no one to drip poison into the ears of the protagonists and sour the atmosphere at the penultimate race of the season. We can look back at an astounding race and savor it, without it leaving a nasty taste in the mouth.
The lack of added stress is welcome. The Sepang round of MotoGP is the toughest of the season, for a lot of reasons. "I think this race is the most demanding of all the season because it is very hot," Valentino Rossi told the press conference. It is not uncommon for riders to come close to passing out at the end of a 45 minute race in sweltering temperatures and steam room humidity levels. Conditions are oppressive.
Making things worse is the fact that Sepang is the last of the three Pacific flyaway races. Sepang is the third weekend in a row where riders have faced a 9-hour flight, followed by promotional activities in the MotoGP manufacturers' most important markets, followed by a full race weekend. They have gone from a chilly and soaking Japan to a chilly and mixed Phillip Island to the sweltering tropical heat of Malaysia, jumping in and out of air-conditioned vehicles, hotels, and aircraft to face the elements on a racing motorcycle. Coughs, cold sweats, and hot fevers are the order of the day.
Preview press releases from some of the MotoGP teams and Michelin ahead of the Malaysian Grand Prix:
Repsol Honda Team head to Malaysia for the last stint of the triple-header
Fresh from Marc Marquez’s brilliant victory in Australia, the Repsol Honda Team have rushed to Malaysia for the penultimate round of the season leading the Rider, Constructor and Team Championships.
With a margin of 33 points over second-place Andrea Dovizioso and a maximum of 50 points still available, Marc will have his first chance to secure the 2017 MotoGP Title next Sunday.
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams ahead of this weekend's Sepang round:
Morbidelli ready for Malaysian Moto2 showdown
This weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix is the first opportunity for Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Franco Morbidelli to wrap up the championship he's led since the first race in Qatar.
The World Superbike championship has moved to address the performance disparities which have seen Kawasaki and Ducati dominate in recent seasons. The Superbike Commission, the rule-making body for the WorldSBK series, today announced a series of measures to ensure greater parity among teams and factories. The measures, which will enter into force in 2018, see rev limits replacing weight penalties and air restrictors as a performance balancing mechanism, and a performance-based concession point system for allowing engine updates during the season.
The changes fall into three main categories: the performance balancing system, a system of concession points, and the price capping of a range of suspension, chassis, and engine parts related to performance. The performance balancing system and the concession points system are aimed at creating more parity between different manufacturers, while the price capping of certain parts is aimed at both limiting costs, and of ensuring that all teams have access to the same parts.
MotoMatters.com, in association with Motor Sport Magazine, is proud to feature the rider insights of 1983 and 1985 500cc world champion Freddie Spencer. Every week after each MotoGP race, Fast Freddie will share what he saw and learned from the race.
In the latest episode of his video blog, Fast Freddie Spencer casts an eye over the events of a thrilling Phillip Island MotoGP race. Spencer shares his memories of riding at the Island, and his abiding memories of his first visit there, and being in the odd situation of testing during the day and then popping down to watch the Penguin Parade after he was done.
Marc Márquez's Phillip Island victory was arguably his best so far; surviving that vicious six-rider brawl, then going on to win by almost two seconds.
There must’ve been times in the early stages of that race when Marc Márquez must’ve thought he was waking up from a nightmare.
The previous weekend at Motegi he had fought wheel to wheel with Andrea Dovizioso, both men walking the line for five extra points. Situation normal: two rivals risking everything for the crown, each of them with as much to lose or gain as the other.
Phillip Island was the total opposite. For much of the race, Márquez found himself in the nightmarish position of being the only rider in the lead group with everything to lose, surrounded by rivals who mostly had nothing to lose. There’s no worse place to be if you’re chasing a title.
Aleix Espargaro will not be racing at Sepang. The Spaniard broke a bone in his left hand when he crashed out of the MotoGP race in Phillip Island, and is to fly back to Barcelona for surgery. Aprilia will not replace Espargaro, his absence coming at too short notice to find a replacement rider in time.
Phillip Island always delivers. If you came to the track on the edge of the world hoping for a spectacle, you got more than your money's worth. Three stunning races at arguably the greatest racetrack in the world. Three races which really mattered: with just two rounds left after Phillip Island, the results had a significant impact on all three championships. And to cap the day off, one of the best MotoGP races of all time, the second here in the space of three seasons. The sun even shone. Well, most of the time, anyway.
Is it a coincidence that two of the greatest Grand Prix races, perhaps of all time, have happened at Phillip Island in the last three seasons? I don't think so. This place, and this time, have conspired to create the perfect conditions for motorcycle racing. Firstly, there has never been a greater concentration of riding talent on the grid at the same time in the premier class. Secondly, performance parity between the different factories, and between factories and privateers, has never been so great. And thirdly, the Phillip Island circuit is simply made for motorcycle racing. A flowing track in a stunning setting, where brave and skilled riders can make passes at nearly half of the corners on the track.
The 2015 MotoGP race at Phillip Island was a four-way dust up which saw Marc Márquez, Jorge Lorenzo, Andrea Iannone, and Valentino Rossi pass each other a grand total of 52 times in 27 laps. The 2017 race saw seven riders slug it out over the same distance, passing and repassing each other a total of 73 times. Blink, and you missed a change of the lead. But you had to blink, just to catch your breath. It is a good job the assiduous Tammy Gorali was willing to go back and tally up the action.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after a thrilling race in Phillip Island:
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after this weekend's races at Phillip Island:
Press releases from this weekend's WorldSBK round at Jerez:
Double Jerez win sealed by Champion Rea
KRT man wraps up a successful Round 12 in Spain with another win and is joined on podium by Ducati pair Melandri and Davies
Michael van der Mark is to get his MotoGP chance after all. After missing out at Aragon, when he was called up to replace Valentino Rossi, but Rossi raced to a stunning 5th place, Van der Mark has been drafted in to replace Jonas Folger in the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team. Van der Mark will take Folger's place at the Sepang MotoGP race next weekend.