Johann Zarco leapt into action today in the searing heat at the Sepang International Circuit. The French star began the weekend with a strong run to 3rd in the opening shakedown on the wet but drying track. In the afternoon, the rain fell again, but Zarco powered onwards to complete FP2 in 11th. His morning time saw him conclude the day as the leading Yamaha rider, plus only 0.136 back from the top and he fully intends to continue the positive momentum tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Michael van der Mark made his MotoGP debut today as he confidently began his work in Malaysia. The young Dutchman completed his first laps on the Yamaha YZR-M1 and impressed immediately as he diced with, and outpaced, some of the MotoGP regular riders. Van der Mark rounded out the day in 19th, and he will return to the track tomorrow at 09:55 local time, or 03:55 in central Europe, for FP3.
The entire Monster Yamaha Tech3 team would like to send condolences to the friends and family of Moto2 team manager Stefan Kiefer, who tragically passed away last night in Malaysia.
Position 3rd - Time: 2'00.807 - Laps: 29
“After the first day of action, I feel good even if I fell in FP2 this afternoon. The track was slippery and we had a small issue with the rear of the bike. It was starting to dry more and more but I pushed a bit too much and fell. Nevertheless, I am happy about the first practice. The conditions were tricky, but neither the team nor the riders knew if it was fully dry so we had to take it step by step. Yet, at the end of the session, it was totally clear and possible to push. Lap after lap the grip improved and my feeling was positive. In the end, I have finished Friday in 3rd so we can be pleased with our work on day 1 in Malaysia.”
Michael van der Mark
Position 19th - Time: 2'03.473 - Laps: 28
"It has been an amazing day. This morning the weather was not ideal so I had to wait for a bit before my first outing on the MotoGP bike. Then, when I took to the track, I immediately felt quite good and I was comfortable so this morning I stayed out and enjoyed the opening session. Then, in FP2, with the rain, I felt positive and I improved step by step. For my first day, it has been a great experience but the thing that I need to work on the most is the braking because, for me, this is the biggest difference between MotoGP and WorldSBK. The brakes are really powerful and it’s more difficult to find the limit of the braking point. I will focus on this, but tomorrow I hope we have some dry track time and I just want to enjoy and improve in every session. I think I can be very happy about my first day on the YZR-M1 and I want to keep progressing."
“I would like to say that today, it doesn't matter what happened on the track and how good the performances of our riders were because it is a sad and dark day. Stefan Kiefer passed away last night, and we have lost a true friend, one of us and a very competitive team manager who won the Moto2 World Championship in 2011 with Stefan Bradl. He was full of passion and energy, and his death is a huge loss for all of us. I would like the whole paddock to remember him for the man he was.”