Kuala Lumpur: Tourism Malaysia Director General Mirza Mohammad Taiyab got it spot-on on Friday when he told mid-day at a promotional event in Kuala lumpur that the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix will be the most exciting MotoGP race of the year.
Movistar Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi (right) and Jorge Lorenzo
On Thursday, Movistar Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi had set the tone for this weekend’s race with claims that Honda’s defending champion Marc Marquez 'thinks like a child' and 'is riding to help Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo win the world championship'.
However, on Friday it was Lorenzo, who drew first blood topping Friday’s combined timesheets in free practice.
In hot and humid conditions at the Sepang International Circuit (SIC) here, Lorenzo, who trails teammate Rossi by just 11 points in the world championship battle with two races remaining in the season, vroomed across the SIC defying the haze and possibility of rain that threatens to disrupt today’s qualifying and tomorrow’s race even as organisers insist that the weekend’s weather is clear.
All of last morning at the opening free practice (FP1), Lorenzo was happy to play bridesmaid to Honda’s Dani Pedrosa who topped the initial pace. However, in the second free practice (FP2) the two-time world champion clocked an impressive 2:00.246 seconds, and swapped his bridesmaid shoes with Pedrosa, who clocked a second-best time of 2:00:293s. Marquez, also a two-time champion, finished third quickest (2:00.472s) with veteran Rossi only managing eighth spot with 2:01.305s.
Finally, after his machine had done the talking, Lorenzo couldn’t help but rub it in to Rossi at the post-practice presser. When asked to react to Rossi’s comments on Marquez helping Lorenzo to win, the Spaniard shot back: “It’s Rossi’s strategy and he has done it in the past too… he has tried to play around with the riders… but it’s obviously not the best strategy.”
Rossi is aiming for his 10th title, but if the practice times are even the smallest indication, his dream seems as hazy as the Sepang weather.