Binder home free on Friday
2016 Moto3™ World Champion Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) topped timesheets on Friday at the Malaysian GP, after going quickest in FP1 and the grid finding FP2 soaked through. With laptimes not dropping, times from the first practice session of the weekend remain the quickest combined and the South African headed day one – ahead of home hero Khairul Idham Pawi (Honda Team Asia). Pawi, who won in Argentina and Germany in the wet, and put in an impressive session in the mostly dry conditions of the morning before finishing third in FP2 – with trademark pace in the rain.
The morning session dawned with overnight showers having left some patches of damp on the track surface, with riders cautious and laptimes taking some time to start becoming representative as the riders checked both the conditions and the newly resurfaced circuit. With Pawi in second in that first session, Francesco Bagnaia (Pull&Bear Aspar Mahindra) was third fastest then and on combined timesheets – as well as topping the wet FP2 session from Estrella Galicia 0,0 rider Jorge Navarro. Navarro suffered a small crash in the afternoon, with no consequences.
Marcos Ramirez (Platinum Bay Real Estate) kept his impressive P4 position from FP1 as he heads into the weekend following a points-scoring finish for the first time, ahead of Livio Loi (RW Racing GP BV), who ended day 1 closing out the top five.
Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) looked immediately at home at Sepang as he proved a consistent early pacesetter in first practice, and comes into the Malaysian GP high on confidence following his first podium. Compatriots Jorge Martin (Pull&Bear Aspar Mahindra) and Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) were seventh and eighth in the morning and on combined timesheets despite struggling more for pace following the afternoon downpour.
Despite his small crash in the wet, Jorge Navarro was P9 by the end of day 1, hoping to get a good qualifying result as he prepares to make gains on injured and absent Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Moto3) in the fight for P2 in the Championship. The Italian is replaced for this weekend by 2015 Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup winner and 2016 Red Bull Rookies champion Ayumu Sasaki.
Fabio Quartararo (Leopard Racing) was another of those on top in the early stages of the first session of the day, and completed the top ten in his first weekend riding at the track after missing the 2015 weekend due to injury – also quick in the afternoon in ninth.
Brad Binder, although quickest in the dry by eight tenths, finished the wet session in P19 on the timesheets.
Moto3™ head the charge once again on Saturday morning at 9:00 local time (GMT +8), with Binder looking for another pole position.