The only rider able to challenge Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez for the 2017 MotoGP title, Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso, led both free practice sessions Friday at Sepang in Malaysia. This the third of three back-to-back fly-away rounds.The first free practice was dry, and the second wet. It was Dovi’s dry session that put him on top of the time sheets with a 2:00.671. To put this time into perspective, the circuit record (set under race conditions) at Sepang International Circuit is a 2:00.606, which was recorded by Jorge Lorenzo while with Yamaha in 2015.
As for Marquez, who has a 33-point lead over Dovizioso heading into the penultimate round, the Spaniard who won at Phillip Island last weekend finished fifth, 0.279 of a second off pace.Joining Dovizioso on the provisional front row were Pull&Bear Aspar Team Ducati’s Alvaro Bautista, who finished 0.071 of a second back, and Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Johann Zarco, who finished 0.136 of a second back. Zarco also suffered a crash during the wet FP2 session, but walked away unharmed.“Today was a very positive day because we were quickest both this morning in the dry and in the afternoon in the wet, and it was very important to start in this way at Sepang,” Andrea Dovizioso says.“We know that there’s still a lot of work to do, especially in the dry, and we hope to have some sessions with the track in a good condition tomorrow, so that we can prepare the best settings for the race. In any case it was good that we confirmed out pace in the wet and today went even better than last year, so I’m very satisfied: my Desmosedici goes really well in the wet, we’ve got excellent grip and it was quite easy for me to go quick.”Finishing fourth on Friday was Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Vinales, followed by Marquez. The reigning MotoGP Champion Marquez had some scary moments, but didn’t crash.“All in all I’m happy with today, as it wasn’t perfect but wasn’t bad either,” Marquez says. “We had two different weather conditions and in both cases we weren’t far from the top, even if we must improve some aspects of the setup as we look to find more rear grip.“It’s still a bit difficult to understand where we really are in the dry because this morning some riders put on a new tire in the end, while some others, myself included, did the entire session on the same tires. Anyway, even if Dovi was a bit faster than us, we were able to stay there with the top guys. We know this is one of the tracks where we struggle most during the season, but at the moment we’ll try and keep working well for the rest of the weekend in order to be ready for Sunday.”Finishing just behind Marquez in sixth was LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow, who was followed by Pull&Bear Aspar Team Ducati’s Karel Abraham and Reale Avintia Racing Ducati’s Hector Barbera. Rounding out the top 10 were Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa and Ducati Team’s Lorenzo.As for nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi, the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP YZR-M1 pilot finished 12th, 0.991 of a second off the pace.Impressive during the day was Michael van der Mark, who made his debut MotoGP appearance as a substitute for the injured Jonas Folger on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine. He finished 2.8 seconds off the pace.Riders will hope for dry skies Saturday for two additional free practice sessions ahead of qualifying. Sunday’s 20-lap MotoGP begins at 3 p.m. local time (3 a.m. ET) Sunday.Photo by Luciano BianchettoFor the combined results from Friday free practice at Sepang MotoGP, click to page 2
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This week, in the first segment Editor Don Williams talks to us about the new Kawasaki Versys 650 LT. It’s the middleweight ADV style machine that uses the same 650 parallel twin motor as the Ninja 650, so it’s an excellent performer in a user-friendly, good looking package.
In the second segment, I chat with one of my dearest industry friends—now retired Honda PR executive, Jon Seidel. Jon’s fascinating career spans some 30 years with Big Red, and gave him some great experiences with some incredible machines. I was fortunate enough to be invited on many of the press launches that he organized. His new project is documenting and saving many of the old archives from years gone by—and incidentally, if you have anything that may be of value to the project, please contact us by email at email@example.com and we’ll pass it all on to Jon.
So on that note, from all of us here at Ultimate Motorcycling, we hope you enjoy this episode!