MotoGP: Alex Rins Takes Charge In FP2 At Sepang (Updated)

MotoGP: Alex Rins Takes Charge In FP2 At Sepang (Updated)

© 2018, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.

Editorial Note: The current Race Lap Record is 2:00.606, which was set by Jorge Lorenzo in 2015.

Shell Malaysian Grand Prix

FIM MotoGP World Championship

Sepang International Circuit

Sepang, Malaysia

November 2, 2018

Free Practice Two Results (all on Michelin tires):

1. Alex Rins, Spain (Suzuki), 1:59.608

2. Marc Marquez, Spain (Honda), 1:59.701

3. Jack Miller, Australia (Ducati), 1:59.771

4. Maverick Vinales, Spain (Yamaha), 1:59.802

5. Danilo Petrucci, Italy (Ducati), 1:59.811

6. Valentino Rossi, Italy (Yamaha), 2:00.017

7. Andrea Dovizioso, Italy (Ducati), 2:00.091

8. Johann Zarco, France (Yamaha), 2:00.159

9. Andrea Iannone, Italy (Suzuki), 2:00.502

10. Dani Pedrosa, Spain (Honda), 2:00.579

11. Takaaki Nakagami, Japan (Honda), 2:00.829

12. Alvaro Bautista, Spain (Ducati), 2:00.980

13. Franco Morbidelli, Italy (Honda), 2:00.981

14. Pol Espargaro, Spain (KTM), 2:01.020

15. Bradley Smith, UK (KTM), 2:01.302

16. Stefan Bradl, Germany (Honda), 2:01.561

17. Karel Abraham, Czech Republic (Ducati), 2:01.684

18. Thomas Luthi, Switzerland (Honda), 2:01.743

19. Aleix Espargaro, Spain (Aprilia), 2:01.766

20. Hafizh Syahrin, Malaysia (Yamaha), 2:01.894

21. Xavier Simeon, Belgium (Ducati), 2:01.900

22. Jordi Torres, Spain (Ducati), 2:01.940

23. Scott Redding, UK (Aprilia), 2:02.338, crash

24. Jorge Lorenzo, Spain (Ducati), 2:04.636

More, from a press release issued by Monster Yamaha Tech 3:

Positive signs for Monster Yamaha Tech3 duo on day one in Malaysia

Johann Zarco kicked off the Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix today in strong form. The fast Frenchman initiated the hot and humid weekend with a fast pace in FP1 this morning and improved on his quickest time later by 0.567 seconds on the last lap of the second Free Practice to conclude Friday with a provisional Q2 position in eighth.

His Monster Yamaha Tech3 teammate Hafizh Syahrin, who is the only rider of the permanent MotoGP field, who haven’t had a test this year before the Grand Prix at the Sepang International Circuit, had the difficult task to make up for this in just two sessions today. The local hero managed his mission well to miss out on the top 10 by just 0.867 seconds before FP3 at 10.55 local time (3.55 CET) tomorrow decides about the Qualifying entry.

Johann Zarco

Position: 8th – Time: 2’00.159 – Laps: 33

“The first day in Malaysia has been very difficult for me. The base we had, even if we did the winter test, was not working here and I was pretty slow. Fortunately at the end of the session this morning, I could improve my lap time and be inside the top 10. Also in the afternoon I was in the top 10 at the end of the practice, but we are struggling a lot with the traction, with the rear grip. We try to work on it, but we couldn’t find a good solution yet. Therefore, I’m a bit worried for the rest of the weekend. I keep pushing, though it’s just another experience to take with this bike at this circuit. I hope we can find something that helps for the next days and be ready for the race. It’s a track I like, so I would love to have a decent feeling.”

Hafizh Syahrin

Position: 18th – Time: 2’01.419 – Laps: 30

“Today has not been easy. This morning I felt comfortable and we weren’t too far. In the afternoon, we changed the suspension on the bike to improve, but it doesn’t seem to be the right way. I feel a bit confused, because we have a rhythm, we have ok grip, but the bike doesn’t want to turn, so it’s really difficult. This afternoon we will analyse everything in order to make an improvement for tomorrow. We believe we can do it, but we need to find a good way.”

More, from a press release issued by Aprilia Gresini Racing:

ALEIX ESPARGARÓ IN THE TOP 10 ON THE FIRST DAY OF PRACTICE AT SEPANG

The Malaysian weekend got off on the right foot for Aleix Espargaró, fast straight away on the Sepang International Circuit asphalt. The Spanish rider rode his Aprilia RS-GP to seventh place in the first session with a time of 2’00.552, demonstrating good sensations in the saddle from the start. In the first part of FP2, Aleix worked with used tyres in anticipation of the race, reserving the final moments for a time attack. The soft rear tyre used during this portion of the session did not give him the right feeling but, thanks to the time he had done in the morning, Aleix still held onto tenth place and with it, provisional access to the second qualifying session.

It proved to be a more complicated day for garage mate Scott Redding, hindered by grip problems and a crash (without consequences) during the second session.

ALEIX ESPARGARO’

“I am happy with the way things went today. I continued using the upgraded bike and I had a good feeling straight away, especially in the morning. In FP2 I managed to be rather fast with used tyres. We need to work a bit more on grip at the rear, but overall, things are not bad. When I put on the soft tyre toward the end, on the other hand, something didn’t work. The grip was not what I expected, so I was unable to lower my time. In any case, a combined top 10 spot is a good start to the weekend for us.”

SCOTT REDDING

“Today we had big grip problems. In braking I am able to limit the damage, but then I am lacking grip and the bike moves around a lot. I am struggling with chattering, which cause me to crash. We need to improve. I am forced to take risks to take advantage of the new tyre, but that isn’t possible for the race.”

More, from a press release issued by Alma Pramac Racing:

Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix – Free Practices

#MalaysianGP FP. Super Friday at Sepang: Jack and Petrux always in TOP5 in both FP1 and FP2

The Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix starts in the best possible way for Alma Pramac Racing. Jack Miller and Danilo Petrucci (along with Maverick Vinales) are the only riders to rank in the Top 5 in both FP1 and FP2 (P5 and P7 respectively in the combined standings).

Jack is incisive both in race pace and time attack and after finishing the FP1 in P4, in the FP2s he improves again – lapping alone – ending up in third position at only 163 thousandths of a second from the best time of Rins.

Petrux is also incisive on time attack while he still has to fix some details on race pace. The rider from Terni finishes in P5 in both FP1 and FP2 and in the combined classification he is seventh at 40 thousandths of a second from his teammate but with an ideal time that would project him to P3.

P7 – Danilo Petrucci

“We are in good shape in terms of speed but I don’t know if we can be as fast lap by lap on race pace. When the tyres start to heat up I feel a vibration that makes me lose grip. I haven’t tried the soft tyre yet and we’ll do it tomorrow. There’s a lot of confidence for qualifying”.

P5 – Jack Miller

“I had a lot of fun today and I’m satisfied with what we did in both FP1 FP2. I am very confident because we are fast on both race pace and lap time. Tomorrow we will also have to work on the tyres to find out which is the best choice for the race”.

More, from a press release issued by Team Suzuki ECSTAR:

ALEX RINS RISES TO THE TOP ON DAY 1 IN SEPANG

Alex Rins: 1st – 1:59.608

Andrea Iannone: 9th – 2:00.502 (+ 0.894)

• Alex Rins makes rapid improvements to place 1st.

•Andrea Iannone not far away in 9th.

•Team feeling optimistic ahead of Day 2.

Team SUZUKI ECSTAR took to the Sepang International Circuit with positive energy following a successful weekend in Australia. The morning’s FP1 session at the Malaysian track stayed dry, allowing Rins and Iannone to work on set-up and try different configurations of their aerodynamic package. The pair had a good session and finished 6th and 11th respectively.

In the afternoon’s FP2 session the emphasis was on improving the lap times incase of rain on Saturday morning. Alex Rins got faster and faster throughout the afternoon, setting the quickest lap a few minutes before the end of the session and holding onto 1st place overall. The Spaniard also topped track sectors 1 & 2. Meanwhile Andrea Iannone was able to move himself into the crucial Top 10 with 9th place. Both riders are now provisionally placed in Q2 should FP3 be wet tomorrow morning.

Davide Brivio – Team Manager

“It’s been another good start. We were happy to see that Alex was able to be fast in both sessions, he had good pace and we were able to try some different things. In the end he set the fastest time, so we hope we can continue to prepare for the race in a good way. Andrea was struggling a bit more today and he has a few problems, so we’ll see how to fix them and hope to improve. Having both riders in Q2 is really important for tomorrow, so we’ll try to continue like this.”

Alex Rins

“I’m really happy because the bike was really good today. Our rhythm was strong, even with a used tyre, so we’re feeling hopeful. The bike has actually changed quite a lot since we tested here; it has better top speed and we have a different configuration of aero fairing, so we can clearly see the positive development which has taken place during the season. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

Andrea Iannone

“The weather here always makes things more difficult, and it’s very hot today like every year. We struggled a bit in the morning but in FP2 I could improve, we need to continue to work because I still have room for improvement in braking and acceleration. We’ll try our best and find the solutions so I can be quicker tomorrow. But I’m in the Top 10 and Q2 at the moment and that is a good sign.”

More, from a press release issued by LCR Honda Idemitsu:

STRONG START FOR TAKA AT SEPANG

LCR Honda IDEMITSU rider Takaaki Nakagami impressed on the opening day of free practice at the Malaysia Grand Prix as he posted the 13th fastest time overall at the Sepang International Circuit. Although the threat of rain was present throughout the day, both practice sessions took place in largely dry conditions and Taka took advantage as he finished Friday’s action just outside the top 10.

Having placed 12th in FP1, the LCR star improved again in the afternoon session as he ended in 11th – one position behind HRC factory rider Dani Pedrosa. The 26-year-old will now focus on making up more time in the final sector of the circuit, but looks well placed to challenge for a spot in Q2 on Saturday.

Takaaki Nakagami – 13th

(2’00.829 – lap 18 of 18)

“It was very tough conditions and it was difficult to find good grip in both FP1 and FP2 because there were some rain drops and then it was dry again. I don’t know the weather forecast for tomorrow, but if it’s dry maybe there will be more rubber on the track and we’ll be able to improve the lap time. For myself, in sector four we are losing a bit of time so we need to focus on that area to find an extra few tenths there. But we are very close to the top 10 and we’re happy with today’s result. The whole team is working well and pushing hard to find the best set-up for the bike to get a good result tomorrow.”

More, from a press release issued by Angel Nieto Team:

BAUTISTA JUST A TENTH OUTSIDE PROVISIONAL Q2 POSITIONS

Ángel Nieto Team rider back on his Ducati GP17 and just a second off the best lap of the day

Álex Rins is the man in form in MotoGP; after his fifth place in Australia the Spanish rider finished the first day of free practice at Sepang on top of the combined timesheets, having posted a 1’59.608 that places him ahead of the top three riders in the championship. Andrea Dovizioso was second fastest today with Marc Márquez third and Valentino Rossi fourth, as the weather conditions that hindered both Moto3 sessions thankfully cleared for MotoGP, allowing the riders to prepare properly for the penultimate race of the season.

Álvaro Bautista was just a tenth of a second outside the positions that will give direct access to Q2 in tomorrow’s third and final free practice, the Ángel Nieto Team rider back on board his Ducati GP17 after spending the weekend with the factory team in Australia. The Spaniard was unable to post a fast flying lap at the end of the session after running into the gravel during the final minutes, when his traction control also deactivated. After returning to the garage to fix the issue, Bautista only had time for one more lap but he is confident of making the necessary improvements to his lap time tomorrow. His teammate Karel Abraham was also back on his regular steed, the Ducati GP16, and finished nineteenth fastest on a day that saw close lap times throughout the field. Some small improvements tomorrow should help the Czech rider move up the order.

12th Álvaro Bautista 2:00.664 (34 laps): “My pace and my feeling today were good and I felt comfortable on the bike, but at the end I had a problem with the brake and ran onto the gravel and the bike developed a problem with the traction control. I had to come back in to reset it and there was only enough time when I went back out to get one lap in. I tried to do everything on one lap and ended up doing nothing, so that was down to me not managing the situation better. Anyway, tomorrow we have another chance to get in to Q2. This morning when I got back on the bike after riding the Ducati GP18 in Australia, I preferred the feeling although maybe I did miss the engine character, that smoothness of the GP18.”

19th Karel Abraham 2:01.684 (29 laps): “It hasn’t been a bad day today, although it wasn’t perfect either. It is hard to get back on the Ducati GP16 after riding the GP17 because we have the same problems we had before, which we didn’t have with the other bike. Now we have some even bigger issues and now I don’t know if it’s the track conditions here in Malaysia or if it’s me that has got used to the other bike. We know where we are losing time and with this set-up it is going to be difficult to go any faster. My team is working on it and we did improve today, but we need to keep on in the same way to find a couple more tenths because everything is very close.”

More, from a press release issued by Repsol Honda:

Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix

MotoGP 2018 Round 18

Marquez third fastest, Pedrosa 11th on the opening day of the Malaysian Grand Prix

After setting the tenth quickest time in today’s FP1 session at Sepang, spent as always on the same set of tyres, Marc Marquez managed to lower his time by over a second in the afternoon’s FP2 session, finishing second fastest (third in the combined classification) just 0.093” behind provisional pole setter Alex Rins.

Dani Pedrosa struggled to find a good feeling but improved a bit his lap time in the afternoon, ending the FP2 session in 10th place (11th in the combined classification) less than one second off the top.

Marc Marquez 93

2ND (COMBINED 3RD) 1’59.701

“All in all it was a good day for us. This morning I felt good, but this afternoon we struggled a lot at the beginning of the FP2 session: I had some moments and had save it a few times. Finally, we changed the front tyre from hard to medium and in the last run we could improve our speed and our lap time. Anyway we need to work very hard on our race pace. We’ll try a different setup in order to see if we may manage better the front tyre. We need to make a step forward is we want to get closer to Dovizioso, who at the moment is the fastest out there.”

Dani Pedrosa 26

10TH (COMBINED 11TH) 2’00.579

“Today we had not really a good feeling. No much grip on the rear and we also struggled a lot in turning. I could not make the pace I would like to have here. In the afternoon we improved the lap time but the grip was even worse. We need to improve the bike’s setup because so far we have not the feeling we had in the test. We must to figure out what to do for tomorrow and keep working hard. It will be important to go out tomorrow and try to improve.”

More, from a press release issued by LCR Honda Castrol:

SOLID RETURN FOR LCR SUBSTITUTE BRADL IN MALAYSIA

Stefan Bradl made a solid return to action in LCR Honda CASTROL Team colours as he deputised for Cal Crutchlow on the opening day of free practice at the Malaysia Grand Prix. With the Briton sidelined for the event at Sepang through injury after sustaining a fractured right ankle at Phillip Island, Bradl took over duties on his Castrol branded RC213V on Friday.

The German was quickly back into his stride on the MotoGP machinery and placed 15th in FP1, one position ahead of HRC factory rider Dani Pedrosa. Although the threat of storms failed to materialise and the track stayed mainly dry, he was unable to better his time from the morning in FP2 but is hopeful of further improvement on Saturday.

Stefan Bradl – 17th

(2’01.313 – lap 16 of 17)

“The first day went ok. The team did a good job and we worked in the same way we did when I was with them years ago – everything felt quite familiar. Today we were quite lucky with the weather, we had two dry sessions which was good for me to get a feeling with the bike. We tried some different settings and tyre choices and I started to get the right feeling, in the right moment with the right tyre. So everything is going ok so far, I hope we can continue like this. We need to get a little bit more confidence with the bike, but after a long break and on my first day back with the bike, I think that is normal.”

More, from a press release issued by Reale Avintia Racing:

Simeon and Torres defeat the heat on the first day at Sepang

MotoGP GP of Malaysia – Sepang

Reale Avintia Racing riders Xavier Simeon and Jordi Torres finished the first day of practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix in 21st and 22nd position.

The heat, the humidity and repeated thunderstorms were main players on this Friday, but the MotoGP riders were lucky enough for both free practice sessions to take place on a dry tarmac.

Xavier Simeon had a lot of problems to find traction on the corner exits. He and his team worked hard to improve the grip levels of his rear Michelin tyre. At the end of the day, he made a step forward and finished just ahead of his teammate in the classification.

For Jordi Torres, the first day on the Malaysian track was very positive, as he gained a lot of confidence in the front end of his Ducati. He finished just behind Simeon, with a gap of only 40 thousandths of a second separating the Reale Avintia duo. It looks as if, quite like at the race in Japan, the teammates will race each other again on Sunday.

On Saturday, both expect to make another step and to qualify more towards the front of the starting grid.

Xavier Simeon | 2’01.900 | P21

“It was quite a difficult day because I didn’t have enough rear grip. We worked all day long to find a solution and to solve this particular problem. In the end, we made a small step in the right direction, but we have to improve further in order to make the best possible use of our bike’s potential. We need to find a set-up that makes us faster, but more than anything more consistent.”

Jordi Torres | 2’01.940 | P22

“Things went well today, much better than I expected on such a long and wide circuit as Sepang. It is difficult to find the most efficient line here, but in the end we clocked a decent lap time. Maybe it could have even better if I had managed to string a faultless lap together, but I am happy regardless because we worked well and we passed the exam of the first day. I gained a lot of confidence and I made a big step forward on the corner entries. Tomorrow we will work on improving the corner exits.”

More, from a press release issued by Movistar Yamaha:

STRONG FIRST SESSIONS IN SEPANG FOR MOVISTAR YAMAHA

The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team launched their campaign at the last GP of the overseas triple-header today. Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi made a promising start to the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix in the first practice sessions. Rossi took fourth place in the combined standings, with teammate Viñales wrapping up the day in sixth position in the overall timesheets.

Sepang (Malaysia), 2nd November 2018

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales began the first free practice sessions at the Sepang International Circuit on a high note. The teammates commenced preparations for this weekend’s penultimate round of the championship and showed a competitive pace right from the get-go. Both riders spent a fair amount of time topping the rankings, and they ultimately finished the day in fourth and sixth place respectively in the combined free practice results.

Rossi had his game-face on today in Sepang. This weekend he is focused on decreasing the 15-point deficit in the championship standings to potentially earn him the second place. With this motivation spurring him on, the nine-time World Champion made the most of the dry 45-minute practice time and set a solid pace, spending most of the session in fifth place. He upped his best lap to a 1‘59.767s towards the end of FP1, which earned him second place, 0.070s from first.

The afternoon session under hazy sunshine allowed the Doctor to once again show a competitive pace. With a little less than 20 minutes to go, he put his Yamaha in the provisional top spot and continued to lap closely to his 2‘00.035s time as he continued his second run. In the final four minutes the pace picked up, dropping the Italian to sixth. He responded by setting a 2’00.017s, but it kept him in the same position in the FP2 rankings. However, his morning time was fast enough to earn him fourth place in the combined free practice results, 0.159s from the top.

Viñales still felt a buzz from last week‘s victory in Australia and entered the Sepang track in FP1 ready for business. Perfectly dry conditions helped the Spanish rider position his YZR-M1 at the top of the timesheets. He further upped his game halfway through the session with a best lap of 2’00.453s, good for provisional first place until the final five minutes. With rain posing a potential threat in the afternoon, the number-25 rider put on a softer rear tyre to make sure he stayed inside the top-10. He had dropped back to fifth but retaliated by setting a 1‘59.928s to take third, 0.231 from the top.

The usual tropical showers at Sepang didn‘t make an appearance in the afternoon, which meant the young rider could proceed making progress on his bike’s dry set-up during the FP2 session. He tried various settings and tyre options until, with eight minutes of the session remaining, it was time to put his bike to the test under similar conditions to those expected for Sunday’s race if it stays dry. He improved his fastest time of the day to a 1’59.802s, taking fourth in the FP2 results, 0.194s from first. This lap put him in sixth place in the combined FP timesheets.

MASSIMO MEREGALLI

TEAM DIRECTOR

We made a strong start to the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend, which is exactly what we aimed for. Straight from the beginning of the morning session both Maverick and Vale were pretty fast. They felt comfortable with the bike and were able to set competitive times, though the temperatures were already quite high. In the afternoon we made further progress. We have struggled in hot conditions in the past, but today both our riders were able to show a solid pace. With Maverick leading a large part of FP1 and Vale topping most of the second half of the FP2 session, it seems we‘re heading in the right direction. We will continue to work to prepare some improvements overnight and we hope for similar conditions tomorrow. That will allow us to focus on the tyres, because not all specifications have been compared by us yet.

VALENTINO ROSSI

The first day is positive for us, because I was quite fast this morning and also this afternoon. After checking the data on Phillip Island, we worked a lot on the setting of the bike. We tried to improve the grip level, especially from the rear tyre. The first impression is positive, because I was good on a hot lap and also the pace is not so bad. It’s only Friday, so we still have to see, but the start was good. Now we have to concentrate especially on the tyre choice, because it’s still very open, front and rear. We also have to wait and see what the weather will be like. We hope it will remain dry, especially for Sunday.

MAVERICK VIÑALES

It’s been a positive day, because I honestly didn’t expect to be so competitive here. Last year I struggled a lot, this is one of the tracks I struggled at the most, but suddenly, when I went out today, I felt really good. In FP1 I had a good rhythm and we have to keep working in that way. I need to concentrate a little bit more on the lines, but there’s not much to work on. We have to put in a good lap for qualifying and then make sure we’re ready for the race. I hope it will stay dry, because I had such a good feeling, but in Japan when I jumped on the bike with wet tyres, I felt strong too. We have to keep focusing on the set-up we have right now, and let’s see what happens. If the race is wet, I hope we will have had the chance to work on the wet set-up before then. The level this year is much higher and we’re already pushing and putting in time-attacks in FP1, so that’s why the lap times are so fast.

More, from a press release issued by Dorna:

Fantastic four: Rins fastest as just 0.159 splits four factories on Friday

Suzuki lead Ducati, Honda and Yamaha on a super competitive opening day at Sepang

Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) topped the timesheets on Friday at the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix after going quickest in FP2, but there are four factories in a tenth and a half on Day 1. Rins heads Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) on the combined times by just 0.089 after setting a 1:59.608, with Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) completing a top three covered by somewhat fitting 0.093 seconds at Sepang. Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) makes it four factories in the top four and four factories within just 0.159 seconds.

Despite the threat of rain throughout the day, the MotoGP™ riders were able to get two full dry sessions done and dusted in Malaysia, and it was the Suzuki leading the way as the chequered flag came out at the end of FP2. Rins was the man at the summit thanks to his late FP2 time, with Dovi failing to improve on his FP1 time in the afternoon session – P7 for the Italian in FP2. Marquez, meanwhile, finished the second session in P2, but the World Champion had an eventful day. In typical Marquez fashion, the number 93 had to save the front of his RC213V numerous times across the two sessions.

There were no such close shaves for fourth place overall and sixth fastest in FP2 Valentino Rossi though, as ‘The Doctor’ had a strong Friday to end the day so close to the top. Just behind him and fifth on the combined times was Jack Miller on board his Alma Pramac Racing Ducati, the Australian setting a quickest time of 1:59.771 to end FP2 in P3, and Miller was also the first rider to dip into the 1:59s in FP2. Meanwhile, Australian GP winner Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) completes the day P6 on the overall times, the Spaniard going fourth fastest in FP2 to end the day less than two tenths off P1.

Just 0.009 behind him at the end of Friday’s proceedings sits Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing), P7 overall for the Italian thanks to his FP2 time, with Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) improving by over half a second in the second session to end Friday in P8. Completing the provisional automatic Q2 places were Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) in P9 and Aprilia Racing Team Gresini’s Aleix Espargaro in P10 – the latter struggling with grip in the afternoon.

Returning from injury, Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) endured a tough opening day. The five-time World Champion finished bottom of the timesheets and over three seconds adrift of the fastest time, and will further assess his fitness on Saturday.

So it’s Alex Rins on fire on Friday in Sepang; a top turnaround after one of his bikes was on up in flames in pitlane on Thursday. The times are super close with 0.203 covering the top six, but FP3 gives the premier class riders the last chance to improve to see if they can cement an automatic place in Q2. Tune in for that at 10:55 local time (GMT +8), with qualifying beginning at 15:10 local time.

Marquez lays down the marker in Moto2™

Spaniard tops both FP1 and FP2, although he ends Friday a mere 0.030 clear of Quartararo

Friday at the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix belonged to Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) in the Moto2™ class, as the 2014 Moto3™ Champion topped both FP1 and FP2. The Spaniard managed to best Fabio Quartararo (MB Conveyors – Speed Up) at the end of FP2 by 0.030 after setting a 2:06.928 on his final lap so it was close but he kept the top spot, with Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) third – 0.161 back. He was just ahead of teammate and Championship leader Francesco Bagnaia and the two did a good few laps together on track, perfecting their teamwork…

The track conditions were tricky for the opening minutes of the second session but with the rain clouds clearing, the Moto2™ field were able to get a good dry stint on Friday afternoon. At the end of play, Marquez and Quartararo were the only two riders to venture into the 2:06s, the latter improving from a P13 finish in the morning, but it was Bagnaia who had the advantage in terms of the title fight – with sole rival Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) a little further back in eighth.

Between the two, it was Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) who completed the top five on Friday and the Italian led FP2 by over a second at the one point after ending FP1 in P2. Then the first of the KTMs on the timesheets was Sam Lowes (Swiss Innovative Investors) in P6, as he just got the better of Oliveira.

Behind the Portuguese rider, Pons HP40’s Lorenzo Baldassarri completes Friday in P8, with Remy Gardner (Tech 3 Racing) kicking off his weekend with a solid P9 on the combined times – the Australian consolidating a top ten place after ending FP1 in P7. Australian GP winner Brad Binder rounded out the top ten on board his Red Bull KTM Ajo machine, moving up the timesheets after a tougher FP1.

Joan Mir (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) had a late crash at Turn 15 in the afternoon – rider ok.

It’s tight at the top in the intermediate class with Saturday and qualifying now on the agenda. FP3 is first though, so tune into that at 09:55 local time (GMT +8) before qualifying at 13:30.

Arbolino ahead as 0.024 splits the top four

Tony Arbolino (Marinelli Snipers Team) ended Day 1 at the Shell Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix at the top of the timesheets in the Moto3™ class, with the Italian setting a 2:14.227 on a dry Sepang International Circuit before the rain started to fall with just under 20 minutes remaining, curtailing the day’s action. John McPhee (CIP – Green Power) and Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) completed the top three, with Championship leader Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) rounding out a top four covered by a mere 0.024 seconds.

After his huge Japanese GP crash, Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) returns to action in Malaysia still nursing his injuries picked up in Motegi but nonetheless, the Italian impressed on Day 1 to end fifth fastest, just 0.122 off the top. Countryman Andrea Migno (Angel Nieto Team Moto3) completed Friday another tiny margin in arrears, 0.003 back in P6, with the same gap separating him from another Italian in P7: Enea Bastinaini (Leopard Racing). Title contender Marco Bezzecchi (Redox PruestelGP) is eighth overall, but the gap is just 0.155 between him and the fastest time.

Ninth quickest was fastest rookie Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0), with Australian GP winner Albert Arenas (Angel Nieto Team Moto3) rounding out a top ten that was covered by only 0.321 in Malaysia. P3 in the Championship, Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) finished Friday in P13.

It was a slightly early end to Moto3™ pacesetting on Friday as the rain fell, so will the lightweight class have more luck with the weather on Saturday to get a dry FP3 under their belts before qualifying? Find out when they head back out on Saturday morning for FP3, with qualifying then beginning at 12:35 local time (GMT +8).

More, from a press release issued by Ducati Corse:

Andrea Dovizioso second on the opening day of free practice for the Shell Malaysia GP at Sepang. Jorge Lorenzo, still suffering after his wrist operation, down in 24th place

Andrea Dovizioso had a positive start today to his race weekend at the Sepang circuit, where the Shell Malaysia Grand Prix will be held on Sunday at 15.00 local time (08.00 CET). The Ducati Team rider ended the day in second position, with a best lap of 1’59.697, which he set in the morning session.

It was a difficult return to the track for Jorge Lorenzo, who is recovering from last week’s operation on a ligament of his left wrist. The Spanish rider, still in some pain, only did a few laps in both FP1 and FP2 and he ended up down in 24th place. In the evening Jorge will undergo some physiotherapy and pain-killing treatment and will decide tomorrow morning if he is able to go out once again on the Malaysian track for the FP3 session.

Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 2nd (1’59.697)

“Today went very well, especially in the afternoon. This morning we were quick right from the start, the track was in excellent condition and we knew we could get into the top 10. I immediately set a great time and this allowed us to work on our race pace in the afternoon: we tried two different set-ups and we improved in many aspects. It was a positive day and I’m very satisfied with today’s performance.”

Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team #99) – 24th (2’03.204)

“It was a very difficult day because I hoped to have better sensations on my bike. It’s true that I’m better than at Motegi, but I’m still feeling a lot of pain when I brake and change direction, and my times are not competitive. It’s really frustrating to lap so slowly and the logical decision would be to stop here, but before giving up, I’ll do some physiotherapy this evening and then we’ll see how I feel tomorrow morning when I get up, before taking a final decision, even though I’m not very optimistic at the moment.”

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