World Endurance: Franco Morbidelli Secures Pole Position For Yamaha Sepang Racing In Malaysia

World Endurance: Franco Morbidelli Secures Pole Position For Yamaha Sepang Racing In Malaysia

© 2019, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. By David Swarts.

8 Hours of Sepang

FIM Endurance World Championship

Sepang International Circuit

Sepang, Malaysia

December 12, 2019

Top 10 Trial Qualifying (drying conditions):

  1. Yamaha Sepang Racing (Franco Morbidelli), Yam YZF-R1, SBK, 2:04.647
  2. Honda Asia-Dream Racing With Showa (Somkiat Chantra), Hon CBR1000RR, SBK, 2:05.440
  3. F.C.C. TSR Honda France (Josh Hook), Hon CBR1000RR, SBK, 2:05.484
  4. Webike SRC Kawasaki France (Jeremy Guarnoni), Kaw ZX-10RR, SBK, 2:05.826
  5. BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team (Markus Reiterberger), BMW S1000RR, SBK, 2:06.306
  6. YART – Yamaha (Niccolo Canepa), Yam YZF-R1, SBK, 2:06.431
  7. Team ERC Endurance (Randy De Puniet), Duc Panigale V4 R, SBK, 2:06.519
  8. BMW Sepang Racing (Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman), BMW S1000RR, SBK, 2:06.986
  9. VRD Igol Pierret Experiences (Xavier Simone), Yam YZF-R1, SBK, 2:07.227
  10. Wojcik Racing Team (Gino Rea), Yam YZF-R1, SBK, crash, no lap time recorded



More, from a press release issued by Eurosport Events/FIM EWC:


Yamaha Sepang Racing confirmed pole in a suspenseful top 10 Trial, placing ahead of Honda Asia Dream Racing with Showa and F.C.C. TSR Honda France on the starting grid.
The Top 10 Trial started with Somkiat Chantra setting a blistering pace. The Thai rider posted a fantastic 2:05.440 lap for Honda Asia Dream Racing, sending the Japanese team rocketing from 9th to 1st place. Yamaha Sepang Racing’s Franco Morbidelli was the sole rider to finally knock the Japanese Honda off its perch and claim pole position with a 2:04.647.

Honda Asia Dream Racing with Showa beat F.C.C. TSR Honda France to second place on the grid after Josh Hook posted a 2:05.484. Jérémy Guarnoni’s lap – a 2:05.826 – enabled Webike SRC Kawasaki France to jump two places and start from 4th on Saturday ahead of BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team, YART Yamaha, Team ERC Endurance, BMW Sepang Racing and VRD Igol Pierret Experiences.

Wójcik Racing Team were the big loser of the Top 10 Trial. Gino Rea had a minor crash during his timed lap. The Yamaha-mounted Polish team, who were 8th after qualifying, will start from 10th place on the grid, just ahead of Suzuki Endurance Racing Team and the first Superstock teams.

The pressure is on in Superstock

Several battles broke out right from qualifying in Superstock class, notably a struggle in the lead between the Japanese team Tone RT Syncedge 4413 BMW, the fastest Superstock of the Suzuka 8 Hours last July, and the French squad Moto Ain, last season’s FIM Endurance World Cup winner. The two teams nudging each other on the timesheets will wage a bitter fight for the win. They will start from 12th and 13th respectively on the grid.

Behind the duo in the lead, the next-best Superstocks GERT56 by GS Yuasa and Motors Events are 19th and 20th post-qualifying, closely followed by Team 33 Coyote Louit Moto, No Limits Motor Team, Team Aviobike and BMRT 3D Maxxess Nevers.

After Friday’s all-day FIA WTCR/Oscaro races, the FIM EWC players will be back on the track on Saturday 14 December at 9am local time (GMT+8) for the warm up.

The 1st edition of the 8 Hours of Sepang will be flagged off at 1pm. The sun sets at 7pm in Malaysia at this time of year, so the final stages of the race will be run at night under the floodlights of the Sepang International Circuit.




More, from a press release issued by Team Suzuki Press Office:


After a strong victory for the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team at the Bol d’Or, the opening round of the 2019 Endurance World Championship, the team took part in the first free practice sessions of the 8 Hours of Sepang in Malaysia where the team took advantage of this long day to test a few settings before the race.

This season, the traditional Winter break is interrupted by the arrival of a new round in the FIM EWC championship, the 8 Hours of Sepang, Malaysia where 51 teams are on the entry list of this second round of the championship.

After a stunning victory aboard the GSX-R1000 at the Bol d’Or back in September, and scoring 60 points in the world championship standings, SERT is once again the big favourite in this race.

The team that is now managed by Damien Saulnier can count on Etienne Masson and Gregg Black’s abilities to learn and quickly master the 5.543km Malaysian circuit. They were also able to rely on Vincent Philippe’s experience, as he was the only rider in the team to know the track, as he raced there several years ago during his MotoGP 250cc class career.

SERT is testing a brand new configuration of the GSX-R1000 and the team devoted this testing day to adjusting the bike’s set-up to the characteristics of this technical track. The arrival of rain at the end of the day did not make the riders’ work easier, but the technical staff managed to gather valuable information. This hard work finally paid off during Night Practice as the SERT scored the fifth best time of the session.

The 8 Hours of Sepang, scheduled on Saturday 14th December at 13:00 (local time), will have a bittersweet taste for Vincent Philippe as it will be the ten-time World Champion’s ultimate race in his career.

Damien Saulnier -Team Manager:

“Today was a busy day. We have worked in several directions regarding the chassis, electronics and tyres. The arrival of rain did not make it any easier for us, but the return of dry conditions during Night Practice allowed us to find a good set-up for the bike. And as our riders are enjoying this wide and fast track, we remain confident for tomorrow’s qualifications!”




More, from a press release issued by Yamaha:

Morbidelli Secures Pole Position for Yamaha Sepang Racing in Malaysia

The Yamaha Sepang Racing Team will start the inaugural 8 Hours of Sepang race from pole position, after a dominant qualifying performance today in Malaysia. The YART Yamaha EWC Official Team bounced back to secure sixth place on the grid for the traditional Le Mans style start, after a crash in Q1 this morning saw Marvin Fritz ruled out of the race with a broken right collarbone.

The Yamaha Sepang trio of Franco Morbidelli, Michael van der Mark and Hafizh Syahrin looked untouchable in qualifying today. All three topped the timesheet in their respective qualifying sessions this morning, with the Italian MotoGP rider posting the fastest lap of all with a time of 2’03.907, which was more than enough to secure provisional pole for the Endurance World Championship debutants after Q1.

A minor crash in Q2 for Morbidelli meant the 2017 Moto2 World Champion was unable to improve upon his previous best and the same was true of van der Mark and Syahrin. However, their average from Q1 was enough to secure provisional pole position for Yamaha Sepang Racing, while Morbidelli’s fastest time meant that he was the final starter in this evening’s Top 10 Trial, which was run under the floodlights at the Sepang International Circuit.

It was a new scenario for Morbidelli who, unlike teammates van der Mark and Syahrin, has no previous experience of the EWC Top 10 Trial, in which riders take to the track individually and have just one flying lap in which to set their best time. Undeterred, the MotoGP rider simply went out and pushed to the limit, besting his closest rival by 0.793s to secure pole position with a time of 2’04.647.

It was Niccolò Canepa who took to the track for the Top 10 Trial aboard the #7 YART Yamaha YZF-R1, after what has been a difficult few days on track for the Austrian squad. The team had to build a brand-new race bike ahead of the 8 Hours of Sepang, following the destruction of their number one bike at the Bol d’Or, and a tight timeline left no time for a shakedown test before the bike was shipped to Malaysia. All three riders struggled to find the good feeling they’d had with the previous machine during free practice and qualifying in Malaysia, with the issues only resolved at the conclusion of qualifying.

With no time to test the revised settings ahead of his single flying lap in the Top 10 Trial, Canepa was left disappointed with his lap time, although it was enough to secure the YART Yamaha squad a start from sixth place in Saturday’s inaugural 8 Hours of Sepang race. The team will, however, start without regular rider Marvin Fritz, who is already on his way back to Europe for treatment on his broken collarbone. Fritz will be replaced on the YART Yamaha YZF-R1 for the race by reserve rider, Karel Hanika.

The inaugural 8 Hours of Sepang race gets underway at 13.00 local time (06.00 CET) on Saturday 14th December, with the final part of the race set to run under the recently installed floodlights at the Sepang International Circuit.

Franco Morbidelli

Yamaha Sepang Racing Team

“It’s always good to qualify on pole, but it’s also fun to do it in the way they do here in EWC, with just one lap on an empty track to set your fastest time. The format certainly gets the adrenaline flowing, as you try to squeeze every little bit of speed from the bike. Tomorrow we will take advantage of the rest day before returning to the track on Saturday. In the race we’ll try and do our job in the best way and try to secure the best result possible. This will be my first EWC race, but it’s a fun series and I’m enjoying the challenge, so thanks to Yamaha, to the Sepang International Circuit and to the team for giving me this opportunity.”

Michael van der Mark

Yamaha Sepang Racing Team

“We’ve enjoyed a strong start to the race weekend, with Franco posting a fantastic lap in the Top 10 Trial to turn our provisional pole from qualifying into the actual pole position for Saturday’s race. Even more important is our constant improvement and the better feeling with our YZF-R1 that we all gain with every exit. All three of us have a really good pace, so I’m sure we can fight at front in the first ever 8 Hours of Sepang race on Saturday. I’m looking forward to it!”

Hafizh Syahrin

Yamaha Sepang Racing Team

“I’m very happy that we were able to secure pole position in front of mine and the team’s home crowd for the first ever 8 Hours of Sepang race. It’s sure to be a tough race in hot conditions on Saturday but we believe in our package, which is really strong, so let’s see what we can do. We need to patient in the race, avoid making any mistakes when dealing with traffic on track and make sure our pit stops are as slick as possible. I believe in the team; I have faith in my teammates, and I think we can do a good job in the race.”

Niccolò Canepa

YART Yamaha EWC Official Team

“From the first laps we did here in Sepang we had some difficulties with the bike; the feeling was that it was a lot different to the bike that was destroyed at the Bol d’Or. Finally, after qualifying, we figured out what the difference was and we’ve now fixed it, but that meant we started the Top 10 Trial from zero, with no time on the revised set up. I’m confident that we can use tomorrow’s rest day to understand how we can improve ahead of the race on Saturday, as everyone in the team is working so hard to put us back on top. I wish my teammate Marvin a speedy recovery after he crashed and broke his collarbone this morning, as we’ll miss him in the race. Get well soon mate!”

Broc Parkes

YART Yamaha EWC Official Team

“It’s been a tough few days for us here in Sepang, with limited dry track time and a few problems that are now fixed with the bike. Unfortunately, Marvin crashed in qualifying and broke his collarbone but, fortunately, we’ve got Karel Hanika who can step in to take his place, so we still have a strong team for the race. Our pace is good, so I think we can do a good job in the race on Saturday.”




More, from a press release issued by BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team:

FIM EWC: BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team to start the 8 Hours of Sepang from fifth on the grid.

  • Round two of the team’s debut season in the FIM Endurance World Championship.
  • Ilya Mikhalchik and Markus Reiterberger to ride the #37 BMW S 1000 RR.
  • Kenny Foray to sit out the rest of the weekend after suffering injuries in a fall.

Sepang. The next challenge in the FIM Endurance World Championship awaits the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team and the new #37 BMW S 1000 RR in the form of the 8 Hours of Sepang (MAS) this Saturday (14th December). The team will start the race from fifth place on the grid. Sepang hosts round two of the 2019/20 season, which is the team’s first in the FIM EWC. In the Malaysia race, the #37 RR will be ridden by Ilya Mikhalchik (UKR) and Markus Reiterberger (GER). The team’s third rider, Kenny Foray (FRA), unfortunately got injured in a crash in Wednesday’s practice and is forced to sit out the rest of the weekend.

After test and practice sessions on Wednesday, two qualifying sessions and the Top 10 Trial were held on Thursday. The BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team was fourth after the qualifying sessions. Reiterberger then set the fifth fastest time in the Top 10 Trial on Thursday evening.

The eight-hour race at Sepang is a first in two regards. Firstly, the 5.5-kilometre ‘Sepang International Circuit’ in Malaysia is hosting the FIM EWC for the first time. Secondly, the race weekend will be held as a joint event with the FIA World Touring Car Cup. The ‘Races of Malaysia’ is a unique double event, run by the two world federations for motorcycles (FIM) and automobiles (FIA).

The 8 Hours of Sepang starts at 13:00 local time on Saturday. The race also serves as a qualification race for the season finale, the Suzuka 8 Hours (JPN) in July 2020. The BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team #37 BMW S 1000 RR will be joined on the Sepang grid by a further eight RRs, run by BMW customer teams.

In the summer, BMW Motorrad Motorsport expanded its factory involvement with the new BMW S 1000 RR to the FIM EWC. The newly-formed BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team made its debut at the Bol d’Or held at Le Castellet (FRA) in September. Team Manager Werner Daemen’s (BEL) outfit promptly finished third at the first attempt with the #37 RR. Despite that success, the goal for the remaining races remains unchanged and the 2019/20 season will serve as a learning year, to further develop the endurance version of the RR.

Quotes ahead of the 8 Hours of Sepang.

Marc Bongers, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director: “The Sepang race is a new challenge for us for several reasons. It is only the second race for our new project in the FIM EWC. We know the track from 2016 from WorldSBK but it is new for the new BMW S 1000 RR and the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team so the team first had to learn it in the sessions completed so far. This is compounded by the fact that Kenny unfortunately got injured and can’t continue to race at Sepang, so Ilya and Markus have the difficult task of sharing duties between them over the eight hours of racing in tropical conditions. But we are confident that Ilya and Markus are fit enough to master the physically demanding conditions – and also that the team is well prepared. Over the past days, the squad has intensively worked on setting the BMW S 1000 RR up for Sepang’s special requirements and made good progress. P5 on the grid is a very satisfying result, especially when you know that Markus got a wrong gear in the first sector and lost a lot of time. We are optimistic and looking forward to the race. And we wish Kenny a speedy recovery – get well soon, Kenny! “

Werner Daemen, Team Manager BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team: “After the difficult Wednesday with Kenny’s injury we went to bed with mixed feelings, but then Thursday has been a very good day for us. Ilya and Markus rode very well and in general, qualifying has been pretty successful for us. Unfortunately, Kenny has to sit out the rest of the weekend but we hope that he will be fully fit again soon. Now we are looking forward to the race. We will try to have a race without any issues and mistakes and then we will see what we can achieve.”

Ilya Mikhalchik: “Qualifying was not so bad but also not perfect. Unfortunately I could not use our full potential on the fast lap as we had a small grip issue. But I am confident for the race as we have a good race pace and this is more important than a fast lap in qualifying. We are ready, even it will be difficult as Markus and me have to share duties between us as two riders. I want to say get well soon to our team-mate Kenny and hopefully we will soon be back all together on the track.”

Markus Reiterberger: “Thursday was a good day. We’ve made more progress with the bike, especially regarding the chassis and the electronics. This for sure will help us on the race distance of eight hours. Unfortunately, Kenny got injured on Wednesday, and Ilya and me now have to ride as a two-rider line-up. I want to wish Kenny a speedy recovery! Ilya and me shared duties and I think that we did a good job. It was exciting to compete in the Top 10 Trial. I’ve participated in many Superpoles but never in a format like this. It’s great and I really like it. Unfortunately I made a small mistake which cost some time, but fifth on the grid is not bad and now we will see what we can achieve in the race. I think that we are a strong team and well prepared.”

Kenny Foray: “The feeling with the bike here on this track was really incredible and I enjoyed riding here. But then heavy rain came on Wednesday afternoon and we did not ride a lot. When I then went out for my first lap of the night practice I had a heavy high-side. I am of course disappointed as it is the first time in my career that I will miss a race. It’s a pity but know that my team-mates are working really well and I am sure that they can do a really good job. I cross my fingers for them and give them all my support to get a good result on Saturday.”

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