The usual pre-race press conference got underway Thursday ahead of the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang.
Taking questions from the international journalists were the Repsol Honda duo of Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa, the Yamaha Factory Racing duo of Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, Ducati Team’s Nicky Haydenm Marc VDS Racing Team’s Moto2 leader Scott Redding and Red Bull KTM Ajo’s local Moto3 talent Zulfahmi Khairuddin.
The biggest news was the penalty Marquez received earlier in the day from Race Direction. The 20-year-old Spaniard was penalized for bumping his teammate Dani Pedrosa at Aragon. Following the bump, Pedrosa’s traction control wire was sliced, and Pedrosa suffered a nasty high side, causing hi a DNF.
Marquez was stripped of one point, and Honda will be stripped of the Constructors Championship points for that round.
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda RC213V MotoGP)s says: “In the end we need to respect that decision. We are ready and I want to be concentrated on this weekend. It will be interesting to see the track and my riding style, because my first real MotoGP test was here and now things have changed with the electronics and so on.”
When prompted about whether the penalty will change his approach to racing he added: “I will not change.”
Pedrosa, who had a sore throat, didn’t comment on the situation.
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V MotoGP) says: “About today: no comment. I have no comment because it is something between Race Direction and Marc. I am only a side effect of what happened in Aragon…Physically I have had a hard week. I started to improve at the end of last week, but I actually started to feel a bit better than I am now. I will see how the physical condition is tomorrow.”
The current MotoGP Champion Lorenzo, who trails Marquez by 40 points (after penalty) also commented on the situation.
Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing YZR-M1 MotoGP) says: “The Jerez action was a great show, and Silverstone, and Laguna when he passed Valentino outside of the track was a great show, so I think they should encourage that type of action to make an example to the young riders…I think they are wrong (about the one penalty point). They have too many penalties. They should have given him one more point in the championship!”
He then spoke of the upcoming race at Sepang.
Jorge Lorenzo says: “In Aragón we lost a good opportunity to win the world title, that is true, but clearly we weren’t’ competitive enough to fight until the last corner with Marc, to win like at Silverstone. Now the championship is more difficult, it’s almost impossible, but something special could happen with the race at 4 o’clock – there could be rain. We have to be concentrated to try and win whether it is here, Phillip Island or Motegi, and react to anything special that happens.”
As for nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi, he has much luck at Sepang, including six wins in the premier MotoGP class.
Valentino Rossi (Yamaha Factory Racing YZR-M1 MotoGP) says: “Yes, this track is fantastic, it’s great, I like it a lot. It’s one of my favorites, but I think that’s the same for all of the riders, especially in MotoGP, as they know every centimeter of it as we spend a lot of time here in the winter. And so all of the top guys are very strong and fast at this track. The temperature will be difficult all weekend, but the track is very fun and you can make big slides. It’s a great enjoyment to ride here. We will see what happens.”
The American Hayden has been linked to an Aspar move over the last few weeks, but did not confirm any news. Things have changed, also, considering Aprilia’s influential Luigi Dall’Igna will move to Ducati next year:.
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team GP13 MotoGP) says: “Some things have changed in the last weeks, for sure. I think we’re a bit closer to a deal now, but I’m definitely staying in MotoGP. Just need to figure out what bike, what team and so on. I thought I would have it all tied up by now which isn’t the case, but I need to sort out the details and see where my next home is.”
Redding, looking to beat his nearest rival Pol Espargaro to keep his championship lead, thinks the extra pressure will be good for him.
Scott Redding (Marc VDS Racing Moto2) says: “Yeah it’s going to be important, but also fun. To have the pressure like this, I also quite like it. I like Phillip Island and also Motegi. We know we are going to struggle a little bit here with the two straights, but you have to forget that little disadvantage and try and get a good handful of points.”
Local boy Khairuddin, who broke his right wrist last time out in Aragon, has been declared fit for his home race.
Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Red Bull AJO Moto3) says: “I am really happy to be back home after the surgery in Barcelona last week. This morning we had a check in the Medical Centre to declare if I’m fit to race this weekend, which the doctor confirmed. I feel good with my body and my hands and everything looks really good. It was a little bit under pressure. Everybody in Malaysia is waiting and I am really happy that they have helped me to be fit for the race this weekend. I can move my hand now, it feels good and now tomorrow I can just forgot about that and concentrate on riding.”
Earlier in the day some of the riders took to some pre-race activity as NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Mattia Pasini, PBM’s Michael Laverty, Team Calvo’s Maverick Viñales and Ana Carrasco, San Carlo Team Italia’s Romano Fenati, Maptaq SAG Zelos Team’s Marcel Schrotter, Red Bull KTM’s Arthur Sissis, his teammate Zulfahmi Khairuddin, Tech3’s Danny Kent, RW Racing GP’s Jasper Iwema, as well as GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Niccolo Antonelli, took to the track’s Go-Karting venue, to sharpen up the race-craft before the serious business gets underway on Friday. Sissis took the victory ahead of Kent and Pasini, MotoGP says.
Parallel to this, the South East Asian Motorcycle Business Forum 2013 was also held today, to bring the main players from the motorcycle and racing industry together with key sponsors and figures in the Asian territory. Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta was joined by Repsol Honda Team Principle Livio Suppo, LCR Honda MotoGP Team CEO Lucio Cecchinello, as well as Shell Advance Motorcycle Oil Lubricant Global Brand Manager Koh Kar Tai, as they networked with many other key sponsors and local government representatives the day before the race, MotoGP says.