Red Bull KTM Ajo ride in both wet and dry conditions


Luis Salom, sixth, and Arthur Sissis, twelfth, complete a positive first day at Sepang, in which they rode in varied conditions. Zulfahmi Khairuddin recovers and partakes in both practice sessions today –taking twentieth.


The transoceanic leg of the Moto3 World Championship began this morning at Sepang with the first free practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix. As often happens at this GP, rain made an appearance on Day 1. This prevented the Red Bull KTM Ajo riders from improving their times in the second session. In the combined standings for the day, Luis Salom was sixth, Arthur Sissis twelfth and a brave Zulfahmi Khairuddin, twentieth.

Partially overcast skies, 26ºC temperatures and up to 85% humidity welcomed the Red Bull KTM Ajo team to the Sepang Circuit. The first good news of the day came in the morning free practice session, when Zulfahmi Khairuddin got back on his KTM after having his right wrist operated on last week. The Malaysian rider undertook few laps –12– and took a best time of  2:16.852 for twentieth. Sixth, with a 2:15.501 lap, was Moto3 World Championship leader Luis Salom. He was the rider with the second most laps to his name, with 16. His teammate, Arthur Sissis, clocked the twelfth fastest time –2:16.174.

A shower in between the two Moto3 sessions forced the Red Bull KTM Ajo team to fit wet tyres for the opening minutes of the second run. However, the Malaysian track was drying out and with 10 minutes to go, conditions allowed for the use of slicks. Lap times dropped sharply and after a continual change of positions, Luis Salom finished tenth –2:17.348– Zulfahmi Khairuddin, twentieth –2:18.610 after 4 laps– and Arthur Sissis, twenty-sixth –2:19.372.

Tomorrow sees the qualifying session take place. Last year, Zulfahmi Khairuddin took his first ever Grand Prix pole position at the Malaysian round.

Results (Combined practice time FP1-FP2)
1. Maverick Viñales (KTM) 2:14.961
2. Alexis Masbou (FTR Honda) 2:15.062  +0.101
3. Jack Miller (FTR Honda) 2:15.087  +0.126
4. Alex Rins (KTM) 2:15.282 +0.321
5. Efren Vazquez (Mahindra) 2:15.478   +0.517
6. Luis Salom (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 2:15.501  +0.540
12. Arthur Sissis (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 2:16.174   +1.213
20. Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 2:16.852   +1.891

Luis Salom >> Audio
“The morning session was pretty good. We had a few problems with the front end but were able to solve them, so I’m happy and my pace was good. However, in the afternoon I didn’t have a great feeling and I started pushing a little too late. I needed a few more laps to improve my best time, but I don’t think we are doing badly. Tomorrow we will continue working and trying to improve our times.”

Arthur Sissis >> Audio
“The first session didn’t go badly. We were able to ride in the dry, and this is good because Sepang isn’t a circuit where I normally do well. In fact, things were positive and I clocked my fastest lap ever here on my first run. In the second session the track was wet, so we changed the front setup completely. I don’t feel too good in those conditions. When the asphalt dried out I put on slicks, but we didn’t have time to change the setup to a dry one so couldn’t draw conclusions from the last run. Tomorrow we will go back to this morning’s setup and continue working from that.”

Zulfahmi Khairuddin >> Audio (English) // Audio (Bahasa)
“This morning we went out on track to see what kind of shape I was in physically after the operation last week. I am really surprised with how well both hands responded when riding my KTM; the pain is minimal. Where I am hurting most is my back, and that is why we decided to go back to the pits a few times and put in few laps in the morning. In the afternoon the weather was worse and I stayed in after the early rain. When the asphalt dried I put in two laps. I want to thank the doctors and everyone who has helped with my recovery this past week. Tomorrow I will take the medicine prescribed and I hope to feel better.”

*Audio solely for radio use