Lorenzo sets the pace in Malaysian MotoGP practice
The tropical heat at Sepang International Circuit couldn’t melt the resolve of Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo today, as the Spaniard topped the timesheets in Friday’s practice sessions for the Malaysian Grand Prix.
On his final stint in Free Practice 2 this afternoon, Lorenzo set a time of 2’00.246 – almost a second quicker than the Sepang Circuit Record Lap - to end the day 0.047 seconds ahead of Respol Honda Team’s Dani Pedrosa, who was second quickest overall and the leading rider in Free Practice 1 this morning. Third quickest overall was Pedrosa’s teammate Marc Marquez, who set a 2'00.472 in FP2 to end the day just two-tenths off Lorenzo’s benchmark time. All of the top three riders on combined times set their quickest lap time using the combination of the medium compound slicks front and rear.
Extreme heat and humidity combined with a thick smoke haze to create infernal conditions at Sepang today, with a peak track temperature of 50°C during FP2. With the threat of rain looming over the next two days of action at Sepang, the riders used today’s dry sessions to evaluate a wide range of slick tire combinations. Both of the front slick options available for the Malaysian Grand Prix – the medium and hard compound options – were tested today, with the medium option proving to be most popular choice due to its combination of cornering and braking performance. All three rear slick options were also evaluated and although the medium compound rear firmed as the riders favorite, the soft rear is a viable option for the Aprilia, Suzuki and open class riders, while the consistency of the hard rear slick could make it a race option if conditions on Sunday are similar to those experienced this afternoon.
The current weather forecast indicates a possibility of rain tomorrow, especially for the afternoon sessions. The next MotoGP session is Free Practice 3 at 0955 local time (GMT +8) which will be the final ranked practice session to determine which riders qualify directly for Qualifying Practice 2 tomorrow afternoon.
Masao Azuma – Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tire Development Department
“Conditions at Sepang today were as we expected with the bumpy track surface only offering moderate levels of grip to the riders. We’ve revised our Malaysian Grand Prix tire allocation this year to provide the riders with more grip to compensate for the poor track surface and as a result the pace today was very quick, even in the elevated temperatures in FP2 this afternoon. After the two sessions today, the riders already have a good understanding on what slick tire combinations are working best for them so we have a good information base to build on tomorrow. However, there is a possibility of rain tomorrow and on Sunday, so if it does rain it will be important for the teams and riders to get some experience with our wet tires on this circuit as during pre-season testing we only had a couple of hours of wet track time at Sepang. Regardless of what the weather brings tomorrow, I am confident our tire allocation will give the riders enough performance to ride this technical circuit with complete control and safety.”
Top six combined times:
Jorge Lorenzo, 2'00.246
Dani Pedrosa, 2'00.293
Marc Marquez, 2'00.472
Andrea Iannone, 2'00.486
Valentino Rossi, 2'00.915
Cal Crutchlow, 2'10.039