Press Release from Movistar Yamaha: The Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix got underway today at the Sepang International Circuit in mixed conditions. Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo spent the morning and afternoon session working through a base set-up to try and get a feel for the drying track and its new tarmac.

During the sunny morning session Rossi positioned himself as a key protagonist from the get-go of the last 2016 overseas Grand Prix weekend. Despite damp patches on the drying track, the Doctor made solid improvements over the first practice and finished in fifth position with a best lap of 2’01.611s, 0.401s from first.

After some heavy rain over lunch, the afternoon session saw more of the same from the Italian. Back out on a wet and drying track, he swiftly took provisional second place on his third lap before focusing his attention on finding a good wet weather set-up in order to be fully prepared for all circumstances come Sunday. Rossi ran out of time to set a lap on slicks when a dry lined formed at the very end of the session. A 2‘13.416s best lap, set before a late flurry of activity, saw the nine-time World Champion wrap up the FP2 in 13th place. However, as no riders were able to improve on their best laps due to the damp conditions, he held on to fifth in the combined time sheets.

Lorenzo also had a good first outing in Sepang. He used the first 45-minute session to find an optimum set-up for the Malaysian circuit. Having found a good rhythm on his first laps, it didn‘t take him long to ride his YZR-M1 to second place. He remained a top five contender, with a best lap of 2‘02.013s until the end of the session, when some last-minute track action pushed him to tenth, 0.803s from the front.

The Mallorcan showed his eagerness to fight at the front in Sunday‘s race as he was one of the first riders to head out on track in FP2. He immediately made his mark with the provisional third fastest time, a position he held for most of the session until the times dropped at the end. Lorenzo returned to the box after ten laps and was one of only a few riders that didn‘t venture out on slicks in the final minutes of the session when a dry line had formed. He found himself in 16th place in the FP2, but finished the day tenth in the combined rankings.     

MASSIMO MEREGALLI
MASSIMO MEREGALLI
TEAM DIRECTOR
This first day of practice went quite smoothly. Today was the first time riders got to ride on the new tarmac and try the modifications that were made to the circuit and their first experiences were quite positive on the grip that the new surface is providing. One aspect that we really have to take into consideration, especially due to the weather conditions, is that the new tarmac doesn‘t dry as fast as the Phillip Island circuit, as we saw one week ago. Unfortunately, the conditions we had today, where the track has never been fully dry even in FP1, didn‘t allow us to finalise the settings, but anyway it has been important to ride also in these mixed circumstances, because it looks like we might have similar conditions for the entire weekend. Based on the information we got today, we will try to prepare something for tomorrow‘s free practice, regardless if it will be dry or wet.
VALENTINO ROSSI
VALENTINO ROSSI
This morning we were able to ride in the full dry, but anyway there were some wet patches that were very difficult and you have to stay very concentrated and careful because it‘s quite dangerous. We hope for the next days we have some clear conditions, full dry or full wet. The first feeling is not so bad, but for sure after today‘s rain the track needed too much time to dry out.
JORGE LORENZO
JORGE LORENZO
Today was a strange day with mixed conditions. In the morning we rode on the new asphalt for the first time and it seems grippy. We couldn‘t stay with the quickest riders because at the last stint we put in the hardest tyres and I didn‘t have enough time to improve the lap time. In the afternoon with the wet track it was complicated, because the asphalt started to dry up and finally we decided to stay in the garage. It‘s difficult to draw conclusions from today.