Morbidelli rules Malaysia
With Moto2™ only getting limited track time at the start of FP1 before the rain came down, it was Championship challenger Tom Luthi (Garage Plus Interwetten) who was quickest in that session, from Marcel Schrotter (AGR Team) and Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS). The afternoon saw MotoGP™ FP2 finally end just dry enough for slicks, and conditions improved further to allow the intermediate class to begin dropping laptimes in their second session of the day.
It was Marquez first down below the 2:09 barrier, then knocked from the top spot by home hero Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia) as the Malaysian put in a stunning lap to lead at home. It was then Marquez’ teammate Franco Morbidelli who took over and took times down into the 2:08s, with the Italian holding the advantage to the end of the session to go fastest on Friday.
Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) leapt up the timesheets in FP2 after not setting a representative lap in the morning, finishing the day in second overall – ahead of 2014 Moto3™ World Champion Marquez, who improved his time further. Jonas Folger (AGR Team) was fourth fastest after a more difficult FP1, with reigning Champion and Championship leader Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) closing out the top five, staying clear of any issues after a crash at Turn 14 in the morning. A Red Flag briefly came out for track conditions at the penultimate corner in FP1, with Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) first to fall and then Zarco collecting his re-joining rival.
Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP) had a solid second session fresh from his podium finish in Phillip Island in sixth, ahead of FP1’s fastest Tom Luthi (Garage Plus Interwetten), who improved his time but wasn’t quite able to retain the top spot.
Local hero Syahrin was eighth after the Malaysian had a crash with no consequence at Turn 15 towards the end of the session, with FP1 crasher Sam Lowes ending Friday in ninth as the last man within a second of Morbidelli’s best lap.
Xavi Vierge (Tech 3 Racing) completed the top ten in another impressive showing, with the big name missing from the top echelons of the timesheets proving to be Paginas Amarillas HP40 rider and Championship contender Alex Rins – who was down in P17 by the end of Day 1. More news saw Julian Simon (QMMF Racing Team) declared unfit for the remainder of the event with cracked vertebrae, after a crash in FP1.
Moto2™ get back on track for FP3 on Saturday morning, hoping for another dry session to set up for Sunday’s title-crucial race.