Dani Pedrosa smashes Sepang Circuit lap record: Malayasian Motorcycle GP; Mahindra’s Bagnaia P8 in Moto3

By | October 24, 2015

Sepang, 24 October 2015: Repsol Honda Team’s Dani Pedrosa produced one of his best ever qualifying performances to smash the Sepang Circuit Best Lap record and claim pole position for tomorrow’s Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang International Circuit, according to a Bridgestone release.

On just his second lap in Qualifying Practice 2, Pedrosa set a scorching time 1’59.053 to lop over half a second off the previous Sepang Circuit Best Lap record and ultimately end the session 0.409 seconds ahead of his teammate Marc Marquez who claimed second place on the grid. The final front row slot went to Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi who clocked a 1’59.726 on his final lap of the session to out-qualify his teammate Jorge Lorenzo by mere 0.011 seconds. All of the riders that qualified on the front row used the combination of the medium compound slicks front and rear for their time attack in qualifying.
It was another typically hot and humid day at Sepang, although the smoke haze lingering over the circuit was thicker than yesterday which resulted in slightly lower track temperatures. Today’s maximum track temperature of 46°C was recorded at the end of Free Practice 4 and was 4°C below yesterday’s high. The combination of poor grip from the tarmac and heavy undulations in the braking zone at the Sepang circuit has steered tyre choice towards options that provide good bump absorption and cornering performance. Therefore, in race simulations during FP4 the medium compound front and rear slicks emerged as the favourite options amongst the riders today and are likely to be used by the majority of riders for the race. The soft compound rear slick is also likely be used by some open class riders for the race as it provides extra performance without a big penalty to durability, but the hard compound rear slick is unlikely to be used by the factory Honda and Yamaha riders unless track temperatures tomorrow are considerably higher.
Tomorrow’s Malaysian Grand Prix will start at 1500 local time (GMT +8) with local weather forecasts predicting a moderate possibility of rain at this time. Before then, the MotoGP™ riders will next be on track for the twenty-minute Warm Up session at 1040 local time.
Masao Azuma – Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tyre Development Department
“Thankfully both sessions were dry today which allowed the teams and riders to work on getting maximum potential out of our tyre allocation at Sepang. The condition of this circuit has degraded year-on-year and so it is important to find a setup which can deal with the bumps in the braking zones, while also limiting spinning of the rear tyre on corner exit. Today’s dry sessions provided the opportunity for the teams to find optimal bike settings for our slick tyres and the result was some very quick lap times during both the time attacks in qualifying as well as during race simulations in FP4. The vast reduction in lap times we have seen this weekend is a good indication that our 2015 specification slick tyres are working well here at Sepang and I am confident our tyres can help produce another thrilling race tomorrow.”

Mapfre Mahindra Moto3 team adds:

Moto3 lap times edged towards record pace at Sepang this morning and the only question mark was whether or not the pace would be maintained as the temperatures rose for qualifying in the afternoon. Miguel Oliveira answered any doubts as he broke the 2’13 barrier on just the third lap and the Portuguese rider looked likely to stay there as qualifying ticked by with a whole host of riders tripping each other up as they looked for a tow, with slipstreams so crucial at Sepang. The traffic was so bad that it is hard to imagine Race Direction will not be handing out more penalties this evening, which could see changes to the grid before tomorrow’s race. On the final lap, Oliveira was edged out to third position by Niccolo Antonelli and Jorge Navarro.

MAPFRE Team Mahindra riders Pecco Bagnaia and Jorge Martín are hopeful of joining the battle at the front in tomorrow’s race after making constant progress throughout the weekend. After lapping ninth and eleventh fastest in final free practice this morning the pair went in search of strong grid positions from the start this afternoon, with Bagnaia moving up to third position on his third lap. It was only during the final few minutes, when he was held up by traffic, that he dropped a few spots to eighth, half a second off pole, but with the likelihood of moving up a position or two once Race Direction have intervened. Martín may also move forward from thirteenth place, the Spaniard feeling confident that he can meet his objective of a top ten finish tomorrow. The team’s third member Juanfran Guevara is hoping to find some set-up solutions tonight after struggling this weekend and qualifying back in 22nd.

8th Pecco Bagnaia 2.13.167 (13 laps): “I was able to set fast laps on my own in free practice this morning and in qualifying this afternoon. My race pace is strong and I was able to set a quick lap in qualifying, it was just a shame that when I was on course to go even faster I ran into a bunch of riders in the middle of the track. It has been happening a lot this season and Race Direction have had to get serious about it already. Anyway, I think when the lights go out tomorrow we will be able to make up a couple of positions. I am satisfied with the job we have done, the bike is working perfectly. The forecast is looking like it might rain but I would prefer a dry race. It will be difficult and I don’t think the pace will be so high because the tyres drop off dramatically here. The objective is to get into the lead group at the start and then be fighting at the end for the best possible result.”

13th Jorge Martín 2.13.573 (12 laps): “In general it has been a very positive day. I felt comfortable in final free practice and I was able to set a really fast lap. My pace is strong on used tyres and that is very positive for the race tomorrow. Qualifying didn’t go as well as I had hoped, I had a problem with my drinks pack at the start and then when we put the softest tyre in I ran wide in one corner but still set my fastest lap. Overall, even though I was hoping for more I am happy with our performance and the result today. I think we have good pace and I am hopeful of running in the front group tomorrow, fighting until the end. I think it will be a big group at the start and then  not so big at the end. Our goal is to be there and at least finish in the top ten.”

eom/Bridgestone and Aspar team releases

Francesco Bagnaia to start on P8 in Moto3 for Aspar Mahindra Moto3. An Aspar Team image

Francesco Bagnaia to start on P8 in Moto3 for Aspar Mahindra Moto3. An Aspar Team image