Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 riders after the first day of practice at Sepang:
STRONG START BY LEOPARD RACING’S TRIO IN THE HEAT OF SEPANG
Championship favourite Danny Kent already underlines his plans to decide the fight for the title this Sunday with the early best marker during this morning’s FP1 before he then low-sided in the afternoon without any consequences, but lost time to replay his morning form whilst the team’s experienced Spaniard Efren Vazquez was amongst the frontrunners during both sessions too. On the other side, Japanese Hiroki Ono came back aboard his Honda machine strongly to deliver a great performance with today’s eight fastest lap time.
Conditions were tremendous as expected, but this time teams and riders participating in the World Championship were welcome by heavy smog in the area surrounding Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur. Thankfully the conditions were not dangerous to health on Friday and it also doesn’t affect the riders in any form.
After two difficult races last time out in Motegi and at Phillip Island respectively it was series leader Danny Kent who set the pace today from the very first beginning. Kent was the only rider to lap under the 2´14 barrier at the 5.4 kilometres demanding Sepang circuit this morning, which was already faster than the existing circuit lap record from last year. Although, Kent low-sided during the afternoon session he was able to set as fast lap times as this session’s frontrunners. From this point of view everything went according to his plan for his title challenge this weekend in the southeast of Asia.
Overall, it was such a strong display by all of the turquoise coloured Leopards as Efren Vazquez was a frontrunner too on Friday, but also Hiroki Ono underlined his speedy talent this afternoon once again as he was recorded with fast lap times during the first part of FP2 before he crashed heavily due to a high-sider. Fortunately the Japanese youngster escaped unhurt.
Practice action in Malaysia resumes with Saturday morning’s final free practice before the competition gear up for the all-important qualifying in the afternoon.
#7 Efren VAZQUEZ (FP1: P3 - 2´14.355 (14/14) / FP2: P4 - 2´14.184 (12/14)):
“I’m happy with our today’s work done because we started really well into the weekend. We were working hard on our rhythm during both practice sessions but the most important thing came out in the latter stages of FP2 when we were able to improve the feeling with the bike in the hotter conditions this afternoon. So of course we will continue in the same way tomorrow, but I think we can expect a good weekend here again.”
#52 Danny KENT (FP1: P1 - 2´13.715 (14/14) / FP2: P5 - 2´14.190 (6/12)):
“Overall it was a good day. I think it was a great start into the weekend because it is always good to finish Friday on top or even amongst the fastest riders. From the very first laps this morning I felt so great with the bike out there but we wanted to make a change this afternoon to try and improve further, so this is what Friday is for. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out as we expected because we were struggling on corner entry. Beyond that I had to report a small crash but the main thing after today is that we have a good base setting from this morning and I have a good feeling with the bike. At the time of my low sider I was in the uphill section of the track for which I wasn’t able to re-start the engine, but behind the fences there was a downhill section and I told the marshal to let me try a bump start, which worked out finally to start the engine again. Thanks to it I was able to continue the session after I had short visit to my crew in the box.”
#76 Hiroki ONO (FP1: P16 - 2´15.649 (9/12) / FP2: P8 - 2´14.386 (3/9)):
“We started so great into the day but ended with a small disaster, I would say. It was somewhat of a stupid mistake because before this crash I was able to put in a number of fast and consistent lap times, but then I followed my teammate Efren and I opened the throttle a bit too early. It was enough that the bike high sided me but fortunately, I’m ok and most important I didn’t hit my injured foot again. However, until my crash I felt so great with the bike thanks to some changes to the setting during the break but I also felt really comfortable from the very first lap this morning. So I really look forward with confidence to the remaining weekend.”
Jorge Navarro strengthens progress in free practice for Malaysian GP
Estrella Galicia 0,0 rider places fourth on first day of free practice at Sepang, the fastest Spanish rider in Moto3.
Heat and humidity played a big part in the first day of free practice for the Malaysian GP, in which Jorge Navarro got onboard his Honda NSF250RW to take on track where the asphalt temperature was over 46ºC in the afternoon session -29ºC in the morning session. Ambient temperature was 34°C with 50% humidity, and smoke from fires in Indonesia further aggravated the conditions.
However, these conditions did not prevent Estrella Galicia 0,0 rider Jorge Navarro from working intensively to keep improving in every aspect. In the morning session he led the way with 7 minutes remaining, eventually dropping down to second and 4 tenths off the top spot.
In the afternoon session, with higher temperatures on track, the tyres did not perform in the same way as in the morning; nevertheless, Navarro improved his times and finished third with a time of 1:14.115. That put him fourth on the combined timesheet for the day.
The Spaniard, who is Team Estrella Galicia 0,0’s only rider at the Malaysian GP due to Fabio Quartararo’s withdrawal through injury, will be back out on track tomorrow from 3am CET for the third free practice. Qualifying for the penultimate race of the season takes place at 6:35am CET.
Estrella Galicia 0,0 rider
4th, 2:14.115, 31 laps, 172 km
"We have adapted very quickly to the Sepang circuit, which is quite difficult"
"Today was a very positive day. We have adapted very quickly to the Sepang circuit, which is quite difficult. This was our first objective: to go fast from the start in order to gradually refine the setup of the bike. The pace this morning was very good; in the afternoon, with more heat and without the soft tyre, I noticed that I was lacking a little confidence -I guess like everyone else- because with the increasing track temperature the rear tyre was sliding a lot. I focused on finding my own pace, riding alone and trying to improve small details. I'm happy with this first day. I hope that tomorrow we can continue working like we did today."
Good results for the Sky Racing Team VR46 on the first day of FPs at Sepang
Second fastest time for Fenati at the end of FPs. Some progress for Migno as well
A solid performance by the Sky Racing Team VR46 at Sepang, on the first day of FPs at the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix, second last round of the Moto3 World Championship.
At the end of FP2, Romano Fenati set the 2nd fastest time (2'14.082), behind Miguel Oliveira (2’13.906). The Italian rider went on to complete the provisional front row on the combined timesheets, after Danny Kent delivered a brilliant performance in FP1 (2'13.715).
Excellent work by the team in the pits: the changes in the setting made during the second free practice session remarkably improved the bike stability and allowed Romano to get a greater feeling with his KTM. Fenati had performed well in FP1 too, as he ended in 9th with 2’14.745.
Good feedback from the track also for Andrea Migno who during the morning session rode with the top 15 group setting the 12th fastest time in 2’15.268 (then 20th in the combined timesheets). The Italian rider failed to improve his performance in the afternoon (21st in 2’15.455) but he proved to have a good pace and a greater feeling with the bike than he got in Australia.
PABLO NIETO / Team Manager
The hot and humid conditions at the Sepang International Circuit always affect the bike performances and put the riders’ stamina to a hard test. The track is amazing, Romano struggled a bit in the beginning as we tested a different setting, but later in the day the team put him in an ideal position to lap and so we are pleased with our work. There is still much to be done, though, as we still have to test the tires endurance which is key ahead of the race. Also Migno made some progress even if his final ranking is not the right one for him, as he deserves to stay in the top 15. Tomorrow we’ll try to pull off a good qualifying to get away as high up as possible on the grid.
ROMANO FENATI / Rider
This morning we started with the setting already tested at Phillip Island, but unfortunately the bike was moving too much and I could not brake properly, also because the track has not got much grip because of the great heat. We made a little-big change that has improved the bike a lot, giving it greater braking stability and allowing me to make it turn much easily. I am glad, we are on track and we must continue to work to get ready for qualifying.
ANDREA MIGNO / Rider
Today’s performance was not that bad actually, even if in the last run, when I was supposed to set the time, I rode alone, then two riders crashed in front of me and I went a bit wide for two laps in a row. I lost some ground there, I am curious to know what time I could have set if it weren’t for those hitches. We have been doing a great job anyway and I am confident about tomorrow’s qualifying.
Oliveira keeps up the pace
Portuguese rider sets second fastest time on first day of Malaysian Grand Prix. Binder is sixth and Hanika eleventh.
10/23/2015 - Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia
The Red Bull KTM Ajo team made a positive start to the ever-demanding Malaysian Grand Prix on Friday. Finally, the toxic cloud that had threatened the round at Sepang did not prove an obstacle for the two free practice sessions, which went without a hitch. Miguel Oliveira, winner of the last round, dominated the last session of the day to register the second fastest lap on the combined timesheet. Brad Binder and Karel Hanika also improved their times in FP2, and they finished the day with the sixth and eleventh quickest laps, respectively.
This morning saw 80% humidity further complicate things at the Malaysian track, the second longest on the calendar. Oliveira started the Grand Prix strong, occupying the top spot on the timesheets until the final ten minutes and setting a fast pace. It was not until the closing stages that the Portuguese was relegated to sixth -2:14.477-, just ahead of teammate Binder -2:14.640. Hanika was nineteenth -2:15.793.
With less humidity but with a 44°C track temperature, the Moto3 riders went out willing to improve their times in FP2. In the case of Red Bull KTM Ajo, all three riders did so, taking an important step forward on their last stint. Teamwork enabled Oliveira, Binder and Hanika to use slipstreams to the maximum advantage on a track with two long straights. This work allowed the Portuguese to ride under 2:14, one of only two riders to do so on Friday, and be the fastest man in the session -2:13.906. Binder rose to sixth place -2:14.327- and Hanika to ninth - 2:14.481.
The penultimate qualifying session of the season will take place from 12:35pm tomorrow. In it, the Red Bull KTM Ajo riders will fight for a third consecutive pole position for the team at Sepang, after Luis Salom and Jack Miller took the top spot the last two years.
44 MIGUEL OLIVEIRA
"This first day went pretty well. At this circuit the first day is always used for adaptation, because of the heat. In the afternoon we changed a lot on the bike compared to the morning and I liked those changes, because in the end I was able to set a good time and get up to the front. Tomorrow we will try to do the same job, without pressure. My goal is to be up there in every session, I will give everything and try to finish amongst the top riders."
41 BRAD BINDER
"Today was a slightly strange day. This morning the feeling on the bike was a little off; I was quite tense and could not ride comfortably. In the second session, we played around with the suspension settings and things went better, although a final change for the last run did not go as we had wanted. Today we finished sixth, which is not a bad position to start the GP, but the feeling needs to be improved in order to go faster."
98 KAREL HANIKA
"It was not an easy day. The conditions have not been favourable, as it was so hot. We tried to find the fastest line at this circuit because it is quite difficult. It is a very wide track and has very different corners, so you need to pay special attention to each of them. In the morning we started working with the setup of the bike but I made some mistakes. In the afternoon we improved and each time we went faster. Finally, with the new tyre, the feeling was not bad at all. There are some small changes that we have to do for tomorrow. For a first day I'm happy and looking forward to tomorrow to keep improving."
DIFFICULT START FOR BASTIANINI AT SEPANG. LOCATELLI WITHDRAWS FROM MALAYSIAN GP
The Sepang International Circuit hosted today the first two free practice sessions of the Malaysian Grand Prix, the penultimate round of the 2015 Moto3 World Championship: Gresini Racing Team Moto3 Enea Bastianini had a complicated day, closing the combined classification in 19th position with a lap time of 2’15”254, 1.5 seconds off the pace. The 17-year-old rider from Rimini is still looking for the best set-up and tomorrow he will work together with his team to obtain a better behaviour of his bike, in order to make it turn better.
After completing 12 laps in the first practice session, his team mate Andrea Locatelli has decided to stop: the 19-year-old rider from Selvino, still affected by the fractured tailbone, will therefore not take part in the Grand Prix.
ENEA BASTIANINI (19th - 2'15"254)
“Today we had some problems and we were not able to be as fast as we would have liked: my bike is going wide and I’m struggling to hold the line, and I also feel a lot of vibration, because the asphalt here is very ruined. At the moment we are struggling, but we are confident we can find a solution and improve tomorrow”.
ANDREA LOCATELLI (33rd - 2'18"343)
“Unfortunately I won’t take part in the Grand Prix: we decided to stop because I have a lot of pain and I’m not able to ride at 100%. I think it’s the right thing to do. I would always like to get out on track, but is better to stay calm and wait to be fully fit. To continue in these conditions would have not been useful”.
“It was a complicated opening day, no doubt: Enea is still looking for the right balance to be fast, and especially he’s struggling to make the bike turn. However, we have already shown that we can close the gap, so we remain confident for tomorrow, in which we will work to improve ahead of the race. Too bad for Locatelli, but I think that we took the right decision: take to the track in these conditions, without being able to express your potential, is not useful: better to stay at rest waiting for Valencia”.
Johann Zarco returns to Top 3
Ajo Motorsport rider completes first day of Malaysian Grand Prix in third position, after setting the second fastest time in both practice sessions
10/23/2015 - Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia
On day one in Sepang, new Moto2 World Champion, Johann Zarco, again showed the level to which spectators have become accustomed from him in 2015. The Ajo Motorsport rider had great pace and was second fastest in each of the two free practice sessions held today. His lap of 2:07.738 in the afternoon earned him third place on the combined timesheets.
Johann Zarco knew that Phillip Island was just a blip in an excellent season, and in Malaysia he only needed 10 minutes to move up to the head of the timesheets. Setting a great pace, the Frenchman was the fastest in adapting to the demanding conditions of high temperatures and humidity at Sepang. Despite losing first position in the session with 30 seconds remaining, the Ajo Motorsport rider’s 2:07.768 lap made him one of only two riders to go round in under 2:08.
With higher track temperatures of 44°C, Zarco went out for the second session willing to continue working on his pace for the race on Sunday. He was one of the riders to put in the most laps, with 17 in the afternoon. He set his best time -2:07.738- midway through the session, going 0.030s quicker than in the morning and placing second once again.
Tomorrow, Zarco will challenge for his eighth pole position of the season, although the first target will be to qualify on the front row after he missed out in Australia. Qualifying session will start at 3:05pm local time -9:05am in Europe (CET).
5 JOHANN ZARCO
"I am very happy with the first day. From the first session I had a good pace and I was first for much of the session. I felt comfortable on the bike. After a tough weekend in Australia, I feel good about having started this Grand Prix well. In the afternoon we continued to have a good pace and we tried different setups and several tyres. We have lots of information and are fast in different conditions. Now I have to physically prepare myself to be fit for qualifying and for Sunday, to be prepared to fight for victory."
Top ten for Márquez in hot and hazy Sepang
Sepang, Malaysia - 23 October 2015: Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Álex Márquez made a positive start to the penultimate round of the 2015 Moto2 World Championship today in typically hot and humid conditions at the Sepang International Circuit.
Márquez mastered a slippery track surface at the 3.444 miles Malaysian venue to improve his pace by over 0.6s in FP2 this afternoon, which secured the 19-year-old an encouraging spot in eighth place on the opening day practice leaderboard.
Low grip levels weren’t further complicated by a heavy haze that is constantly hovering over the Sepang International Circuit, with Indonesian forest fires not impacting on the track action in Malaysia.
Márquez preferred to spend the majority of his time on track today concentrating on gaining the best possible durability from the hard option Dunlop rear tyre in advance of Sunday’s 19-lap race.
Had he opted to go into full time attack mode on a soft rear tyre then the current Moto3 World Champion is confident he could have improved his pace to challenge for the top six.
Álex Márquez: 8th - 2’08.300
“The position is positive and I feel much happier on the bike than the last races and I can ride with more confidence. We improved a lot during the day and I am happy because it is a very long lap and you need to stay focused at 100% all of the time. We have found a very good base with the bike but I can still improve in the second and third sectors. I am not so far away but it is a long and technical track and not easy to adjust your technique on a Moto2 machine. The straights are shorter and you really have to focus on corner exit. The lines into the corner are quite similar but you have to pick the bike up really quickly to get the best acceleration, keep good grip and not work the rear tyre too hard.”
Naoya Kaneko: Chief Mechanic
“The big difference this year at this track has been the different feedback that the front and rear tyre is giving and neither are reacting as we expected. We need to understand how we can adapt to the different characteristics because we are still 0.8s off the best lap time and that means we can still make a big improvement tomorrow. This is a long and demanding circuit, so for his first time here on a Moto2 machine I think Álex did a good job today.”
SIMEON LOOKING FOR MORE REAR GRIP AFTER FIRST PRACTICE AT SEPANG
The first day of practice of the Malaysian Grand Prix, at the Sepang International Circuit, saw the Team Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 rider Xavier Siméon 16th fastest in the combined classification, with a lap time of 2’08”676. The 26-year-old Belgian rider, who improved his performance 0.7 seconds between the morning and the afternoon session, tomorrow will work together with his technicians looking for more rear grip.
XAVIER SIMÉON (16th - 2'08"676)
“Today was not bad, but also not really great... In these very hot conditions I’m struggling for lack of rear grip and especially I’m losing time because I can’t have the right grip especially at the maximum lean angle. During the free practice the situation has improved, but we need to take another step forward. All in all it was positive first day, now we continue to work to get closer to the fastest”.
“Siméon ended the day half a second from the top five, and we can consider it a limited gap, but it’s clear that there is still something missing. If we can take a step forward, improving some aspects that Xavier still doesn’t like, we can get a good placement on the grid, which is our goal to introduce the race with good prospects to get a good result”.
Still some issues to solve at sultry Sepang
The first day at hot and sultry Sepang wasn’t a piece of cake for Livio Loi and RW Racing GP. But despite ending FP2 for the Malaysian GP in 20th (and 21st overall after two practice sessions) Loi was quite positive about the possibilities. “It was just the first day and looking at the problems we had the differences are relatively small.”
The Sepang International Circuit is a completely different track than the ones in Japan and Australia, where the MotoGP circus performed the past two weekends. The bikes have to be setup way differently and that caused Livio Loi and RW Racing GP some thought.
What made it even more complicated are the circumstances. In the first free practice the ambient temperature was 27 degrees Celsius but with a humidity of 81%. In the second one it was 36 degrees and heavy smog made it extremely sultry.
Despite all that Loi was half a second faster in the second practice, but that was not enough to be higher up in the rankings.
Livio Loi – 20 (2.15,297)
“There is no reason to be satisfied yet as we had quite some problems today. It’s obvious we are in the wrong way as the setup concerns. Where I lose the most is in the corners. There is too much movement and too little grip in the front. Seems like a suspension issue. Yet, looking at those problems we are not too far off the pace. The differences are relatively small. We are working hard to find a solution. I’m confident we’ll find the right way. On to tomorrow!”
Moto3 - First day of practice for San Carlo Team Italia in Malaysia
Manuel Pagliani and Stefano Manzi discover the characteristics of the track of Sepang.
In the last to second round of the 2015 World Championship, Manuel Pagliani (27th) and Stefano Manzi (28th) spent the two sessions of free practice to find the right trajectories of the Malaysian track, understandably far from the leader of the Championship Danny Kent (Honda),with a 2'13"715 in the morning which confirms that he's the fastest on track.
Encouraged by the positive result of the official qualifying practice in Phillip Island, Stefano Manzi got the 25th place in 2'16"301 during FP1,while Manuel Pagliani, who got his first points in the World championship in Australia as he was 13th on the finish line, ended the session with a best lap in 2'17"384. Different situation in FP2, with Pagliani in 2'16"022 as the fastest rider of San Carlo Team Italia,25th (and 27th in the combined timesheet of Day1) and he preceded with just 64 thousandths, the teammate Manzi (2'16"086, 26th in FP2 and 28th in the combined timesheet of the two sessions).
Starting from the work done today,the two riders of the Italian Motorcycling Federation will get back on track tomorrow with the goal of maximising their sports and technical potential, in order to get a convincing place on the starting grid.
Manuel Pagliani (San Carlo Team Italia - Mahindra MGP3O #96) 27th, 2'16"022
"During the first session I had to understand the track. Sepang is a track difficult to be learnt, but already during the second session I interpreted the characteristics of the track at the best, succeeding in improving my times of the morning. At the end, with new tyres, I lowered my lap times, finding more feeling in the breaking point thanks to the work done by the team. This proves that we are in the right way and that we can improve further tomorrow."
Stefano Manzi (San Carlo Team Italia - Mahindra MGP3O #29) 28th, 2'16"086
"With the team, we have worked well today, we only missed the lap time. From this point of view I can't be satisfied: in the second session, with new tyre, I wasn't able to improve and that's why we are behind. Tomorrow we will try to improve our position in the standings after this first day spent to discover the track."
Cristiano Migliorati (Sport Manager - San Carlo Team Italia Moto3)
"We can be satisfied with the work done today, more than with the place in the standings. Our two riders had to learn from zero a track that is difficult, demanding and sometimes also dispersive when you try the time attack, but anyway they were able to show off with interesting performances, if we look at their ideal time. Today Pagliani spent the day to verify the potential of a new technical particular of the Mahindra Racing department: he showed to be a good "tester", but at the same time he was able to get an ideal time in 2'15"6 that makes us hope for the weekend. Same situation for Manzi who has an ideal time in 2'15"1 that he was not able to reach today due to a series of circumstances, but we think that it's within his reach in view of today. With both our riders we rode in 2'16"0 with a remarkable constancy of performance, so we can be optimistic in view of qualifying and race."