MotoGP - Suzuki Set for Sepang Penultimate Race
The Malaysian circuit of Sepang awaits the MotoGP™ riders for the penultimate round of the Championship this weekend.
Team SUZUKI ECSTAR riders Maverick Viñales and Aleix Espargaró have arrived in Malaysia with enthusiasm, in particular Viñales, who is still filled with positive feelings from his recent podiums aboard the GSX-RR in Motegi and Phillip Island. Despite the weekend in Australia proving difficult because of the weather conditions, his third position has given the young Spaniard confidence for the upcoming race.
Espargaró too has strong and positive feelings following his increased competitiveness that he has found in recent races. In Australia, the Spaniard was unlucky to crash when he was fighting for a podium position in the closing stages.
The Sepang International Circuit has been recently updated with new tarmac and slight modifications in the banking of some corners and this is expected to increase the grip, which will require the teams to make some updates to their previous circuit data.
The race is expected to be tough on everyone due to the high temperatures and humidity that are typical of the area and is extremely demanding for the riders. With four slow corners following two long straights and 10 medium-to-high-speed corners, the wide track is particularly favourable for overtaking manoeuvres, but will also put a lot of stress on the engines. It is 5.5 km (3.44 miles) in length, which makes it one of the longest laps in the MotoGP™ calendar, with the main straight measuring 920 metres (3018.37 ft).
The Malaysian circuit is one of those where I’ve always found myself comfortable and confident, it’s a very hard climate and is very demanding for the machines as the power is very important. Compared to last year, our performances with the engine and the seamless gearbox have improved a lot, therefore I’m expecting to be competitive. In the February test, I had positive results and the latest successes make me think that we have a good chance to be competitive here. We will have to take care of the rear tyre, because the Malaysian hot temperatures are very stressful for the tyre and this could affect the traction, which is one of the aspects we are mostly working on. However, the circuit has received some updates in the tarmac recently so I’m curious to see how the grip has changed; hopefully will be better for us. We have to keep an eye on the championship now, the maths say we can still aim for third place so I’ve set this as an objective; it won’t be easy but we will try to achieve it.
This is a track I like, it’s very demanding for the riders and the machines because of its layout and the hot and humid climate, but we have already tested here in February and the results were positive. The weather forecast is not positive for the weekend, but I hope they are wrong. A dry race would be preferable for me, and I hope we can keep the positive progress we’ve made in the last races. Although we haven’t harvested the deserved results, I’ve been fighting a lot for the podium positions, which is a sign that we have improved. I am still missing an outstanding result and I’ll do my best to seize the last two chances we have to get one.