Eugene Laverty increased the pace in the second of three sessions today, with Chaz Davies close behind. Sylvain Guintoli continues to be the quicker of the title challengers.
Newly crowned world champion Michael van der Mark was quickest by almost a second, ahead of Florian Marino and Lorenzo Zanetti with Jules Cluzel in fourth place.
Opening the last World Superbike weekend of the year, Jonathan Rea was the quicker of the three riders with laps under two minutes. Loris Baz and Alex Lowes joined him with championship contenders Sylvain Guintoli fourth quickest and Tom Sykes ninth quickest.
Yonny Hernandez is to remain with the Pramac Ducati squad for the 2015 season, and will race a Factory Option Desmosedici GP14.2 alongside Danilo Petrucci. Though the news had long been known, Ducati today issued a press release officially announcing Hernandez as the second rider at Pramac.
The deal will see Hernandez race with Pramac in 2015, with an option to extend the contract to 2016, though the statement does not make it clear who can exercise the option. Hernandez and Petrucci will race the GP14.2, the bike currently being contested by Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone, running Ducati's factory software and using the Ducati performance concessions. This means they will retain the softer tire, 24 liters of fuel, and extra engines and testing for the 2015 season.
The press release from Ducati appears below:
Yonny Hernandez contracts with Ducati to continue with the Pramac Racing Team in 2015 MotoGP World Championship
Ducati Corse is pleased to announce that it has signed an agreement with Yonny Hernandez that will tie the Colombian rider to Ducati for 2015, with an option for 2016.
Press releases previewing this weekend's season finale at Qatar from the World Superbike and World Supersport teams and series organizer:
Casey Stoner has made a temporary return to MotoGP, completing two days of testing for Honda at Motegi. Over the two days of testing, Stoner focused on the 2015 version of Honda's RC213V, the Australian comparing the settings used by Repsol Honda's current riders, Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa, to see how they work with the new bike. Stoner also worked on preparing the 2015 further ahead of its debut at the Valencia test after the final race of the season. Finally, he also spent some time on the development versions of Michelin's MotoGP tires, as the French manufacturer prepares to take over as spec tire supplier from 2016 onwards. As is their custom with all testing, Honda did not release any lap times.
Stoner volunteered to do the test as compensation for the tests he was scheduled to do in 2013. Those tests were largely rained off due to poor weather in Japan, and Stoner felt he still owed HRC some testing. With better weather conditions at Motegi for this test, the Australian was able to make good on his debt to Honda. According to MCN's Matt Birt, HRC boss Shuhei Nakamoto is keen to retain Stoner as a test rider, but agreement is yet to be reached.
After Tito Rabat sealed the 2014 Moto2 championship, Dorna issued the following press release, charting Rabat's path to his title winning season:
Tireless Rabat’s hard work takes him to the top
At the age of 25 Tito Rabat has seen his years of hard work and steady improvement pay off as he took a big step forward in 2014 to become a World Champion.
On Sunday the rider from Barcelona clinched his first World title, following up on the success story of his former teammate last year in the Moto2™ class Pol Espargaro. Rabat’s journey to the World Championship glory in the intermediate class has been one of diligent self-improvement since his first appearance in Grand Prix racing in 2005.
Rabat made his debut in Valencia at the end of that 2005 season having been runner up in the Spanish 125cc championship that year. The following season he made further guest appearances at Jerez and Barcelona-Catalunya before getting handed an opportunity in the second half of the 2006 campaign to ride permanently on Honda machinery. He attended 10 Grands Prix that year and registered his first points.
As usual after every MotoGP round, Bridgestone issued a press release debrief with one of their top engineers. This time, it is the turn of Masao Azuma to discuss how Bridgestone's tires handled the intense heat of Sepang, and how their new front tire with more edge grip performed:
Malaysian MotoGP™ debrief with Masao Azuma
Wednesday, October 29 2014
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Medium & Hard. Rear: Soft, Medium & Hard (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Hard (Main) & Soft (Alternative)
In sweltering conditions at Malaysia’s Sepang Circuit last Sunday, Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez won his twelfth race of the 2014 season ahead of the determined Movistar Yamaha MotoGP duo of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo who finished in second and third place respectively.
Extremely hot and humid temperatures over the race weekend created trying conditions for the riders, with Sunday’s race experiencing an ambient temperature of 35°C, while the track temperature reached 55°C. With the sun blazing overhead, Marquez was on a hot streak on track setting a new Sepang Circuit Best Lap record (1'59.791) in qualifying and a new Circuit Record Lap (2'01.150) during the race.
MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
Miller and Márquez, mountains and molehills
Twenty-three years ago Luca Cadalora and Helmut Bradl were engaged in a bitter duel for the 250 world title, just as Álex Márquez and Jack Miller are in Moto3 today. At Misano the pair exited the final corner side by side and dashed towards the chequered flag, the Italian blatantly elbowing the German onto the dirt. Cadalora won the race by nine thousandths of a second and Bradl wasn’t a happy man.
The following weekend it was the West German GP. The Hockenheim grandstands – a vast concrete amphitheatre overlooking the final few corners – were packed with locals and the atmosphere wasn’t pretty. Each time Cadalora rode into the stadium section the crowd erupted into a chorus of boos. Before the weekend he had already received death threats and during practice he made the mistake of crashing right in front of the grandstands. As marshals dragged the groggy rider out of harm’s way, the crowd added insult to injury, unleashing a torrent of abuse. Cadalora was hurt and plenty of fans seemed delighted.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone after Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang:
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after Sunday's races at Sepang:
After the incidents between Jack Miller and Alex Marquez, and between Alex Marquez and Danny Kent, the Estrella Galicia 0,0 team protested the behavior of Miller and Kent to Race Direction. Race Direction held hearings with all riders concerned, reviewed the evidence, and rejected the protests. Today, the FIM issued a press release containing the official statement from Race Direction on the events:
FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix
Shell Advance Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix - Decision of the Race Direction
A protest by the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Team was received by Race Direction following the Moto3 race of the Shell Advance Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix. The protest is against rider #8 Jack Miller for non-sporting behavior. Specifically it is alleged that Miller intentionally made contact several times with rider #12 Alex Marquez with the intention of taking Marquez off his line, to make him lose positions or to make him crash.
A Race Direction hearing was held with both riders and a team representative from each in attendance, and both riders were interviewed about the incidents.
2014 Sepang Sunday Round Up: Beating Doohan, Rabat's Reward For Hard Work, And Miller Mastering Marquez In Moto3
How big a deal is MotoGP in Asia, and especially in Malaysia? There were officially 81,896 spectators at the Sepang International Circuit on Sunday for the races. That is a lot. To put it in perspective, it is the seventh highest attendance of the year, more than either of the US rounds of MotoGP, more than Silverstone, more than either of the Italian rounds. There were 4,400 more spectators at Sepang than at Mugello. That is quite a turnaround: in 2000, the second year MotoGP was held at the circuit, only 32,375 people attended the race, spread over all three days. The three-day total is now close to 131,000.
It is testament to both the growing wealth of the region and the growing popularity of the sport. In the podium press conference, Valentino Rossi reflected on the change. "For a long period, we have no people on Sunday," he said. Little by little attendance had grown, until now, it is a race with an atmosphere all of its own. "Now it is full, the atmosphere on the main straight is like Barcelona or Mugello. The guys are crazy for MotoGP." It was a great victory for the sport, he said. Given that those 82,000 people are mostly sitting outside, in tropical temperatures of 36°C and humidity of over 50%, those guys (and gals) must indeed be 'crazy for MotoGP'.
Their efforts were amply rewarded on Sunday, with three superb races. They saw records equaled in MotoGP, a richly-deserved title tied up in Moto2, and an exhilarating and incident-packed battle in Moto3, which sets up a grand finale for the Moto3 title at Valencia. Reason enough to come back again in force in 2015, with the added benefit of seeing the circuit fielding its own team in Moto3 next year.