First practice sees pace drop quickly after first contact with new asphalt
After the recent resurfacing of Sepang International Circuit, riders were eager to get out on track to test out the conditions in the first practice session for the Fassi Malaysian Round. With completely new asphalt and some changes to corner cambers, the grid were heading somewhat into the unknown despite the good knowledge of the track that many riders possess. With initial times more than 10 seconds slower than the 2014 Best Lap set by Sylvain Guintoli of a 2:03.002, it took some time for the riders to start getting up to speed on the new surface.
Times began to tumble as confidence and grip started to improve, with riders trading times at the top as each pushed a little harder on the next lap. In the last quarter of the session, the first to show his hand was Honda rider Nicky Hayden, who managed the first lap below the 2 minute and six second mark. Hayden, who has a wealth of experience at Sepang International Circuit, remained top until the final seconds of the session. His teammate Michael van der Mark also proved quick in the first session, with the Dutchman keeping pace with his teammate to within a tenth and a half, losing a little more time in the final sectors of the lap. The Honda duo ended FP1 in 3rd and 4th respectively, as KRT pairing of Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea put in two final fast laps to take P1 and P2, separated by less than a tenth.
Sepang and WorldSBK rookie Markus Reiterberger was the next fastest rider in P5, with the Althea BMW rider showing impressive pace on his first taste of the track. Next was Pata Yamaha rider Alex Lowes in P6 as the sole factory Yamaha to race in Malaysia after teammate Sylvain Guintoli’s highside crash in Imola, which is currently sidelining the Frenchman. In P7 was Reiterberger’s Althea teammate Jordi Torres, who was on the podium in Race 2 in 2015, ahead of Aprilia pairing Alex De Angelis and Lorenzo Savadori. Leon Camier locked out the final place in the top ten on his MV Agusta despite having expected a more challenging weekend than that of Imola.
Karel Abraham on his Milwaukee BMW was the man in between Camier and the first Ducati of Chaz Davies, as the Welshman ended FP1 in twelfth fresh from his double win in Imola. Davies was followed home by Xavi Forés on the Barni Racing Team 1199 Panigale R, who ended the session just ahead of second Aruba.it Racing – Ducati rider Davide Giugliano, who missed the weekend in 2015 due to injuries sustained in Laguna Seca. Anthony West, filling in for Sylvain Barrier at Pedercini Kawasaki, was the final man in the top 15.
Free Practice 2 begins at 13:30 local time (GMT +8) as entry to Tissot-Superpole 2 is decided.