Pedrosa on race record pace at Sepang
Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa was the quickest rider in Friday practice at the Malaysian Grand Prix, as the MotoGP riders had to contend with both sunshine and heavy rain in a challenging opening day at Sepang.
The riders wasted no time getting up to speed at Sepang in the first session of the weekend, and by the end of the session both Pedrosa and NGM Forward Racing’s Aleix Espargaro were able to set times under the current Sepang Circuit Record Lap time of 2’01.415, set last year by Marc Marquez. Pedrosa’s benchmark time of 2’01.379 saw him beat Espargaro to the first day’s honors by just 0.014 seconds, while the third quickest rider on the day, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo was a mere 0.037 seconds adrift of Pedrosa with a personal best lap time of 2’01.416.
After a dry and warm start to the day allowed the use of slick tires in Free Practice 1, a heavy downpour of rain just before the start of Free Practice 2 necessitated the use of wet tires for the entirety of the afternoon session, thus no riders were able to improve on the times they set in the morning. In the morning session, all riders selected the medium compound front slick at the start of the session, yet towards the end of the session some riders opted for Bridgestone’s new hard compound front slick which makes its competitive debut this weekend. The feedback from the riders that used this new front slick was positive, and it is expected the majority of riders will evaluate this option in the next dry session.
For the rear tire, the majority of riders including the Factory Ducati, Honda and Yamaha riders opted for the medium compound rear slick in FP1, while the remaining riders selected the soft compound rear slick. A number of factory riders planned to evaluate the hard compound rear slick in FP2, but had to abandon this plan due to the afternoon rain. In FP2’s wet conditions, all riders opted for the hard compound wet tires front and rear, which is the main wet tire option Bridgestone has provided for the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Similar temperatures with a good possibility of rain in the afternoon are forecast for tomorrow. The next MotoGP session is Free Practice 3 at 0955 local time (GMT +8).
Masao Azuma – Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorsport tire Development Department
“The variable weather today gave the riders the opportunity to ride in a wide range of conditions from fully dry to fully wet and although this meant the riders couldn’t evaluate as many slick options as they planned to, a lot of valuable data was collected today. Given that we often experience rain in the afternoon at Sepang, the riders were able to work on their wet setup and get a feel for how our wet tires perform at this technical circuit. In this morning’s session, most riders used the medium compound slicks front and rear, but some Open-class riders also tried our new hard compound front slick at the end of FP1, and the feedback we received was that this option had a good combination of braking and cornering performance, which was a positive outcome on the first day here at Sepang. Some riders were able to lap under race record pace in the first session of the weekend and the pace among the front runners is very close, so I am pleased that our revised tire allocation at Sepang this year is working well for everybody.”