Oliveira keeps up the pace


Portuguese rider sets second fastest time on first day of Malaysian Grand Prix. Binder is sixth and Hanika eleventh.

Oliveira, Malaysian Moto3 2015

Oliveira, Malaysian Moto3 2015

The Red Bull KTM Ajo team made a positive start to the ever-demanding Malaysian Grand Prix on Friday. Finally, the toxic cloud that had threatened the round at Sepang did not prove an obstacle for the two free practice sessions, which went without a hitch. Miguel Oliveira, winner of the last round, dominated the last session of the day to register the second fastest lap on the combined timesheet. Brad Binder and Karel Hanika also improved their times in FP2, and they finished the day with the sixth and eleventh quickest laps, respectively.

This morning saw 80% humidity further complicate things at the Malaysian track, the second longest on the calendar. Oliveira started the Grand Prix strong, occupying the top spot on the timesheets until the final ten minutes and setting a fast pace. It was not until the closing stages that the Portuguese was relegated to sixth -2:14.477-, just ahead of teammate Binder -2:14.640. Hanika was nineteenth -2:15.793.

With less humidity but with a 44°C track temperature, the Moto3 riders went out willing to improve their times in FP2. In the case of Red Bull KTM Ajo, all three riders did so, taking an important step forward on their last stint. Teamwork enabled Oliveira, Binder and Hanika to use slipstreams to the maximum advantage on a track with two long straights. This work allowed the Portuguese to ride under 2:14, one of only two riders to do so on Friday, and be the fastest man in the session -2:13.906. Binder rose to sixth place -2:14.327- and Hanika to ninth – 2:14.481.

The penultimate qualifying session of the season will take place from 12:35pm tomorrow. In it, the Red Bull KTM Ajo riders will fight for a third consecutive pole position for the team at Sepang, after Luis Salom and Jack Miller took the top spot the last two years.

Results (Combined practice time FP1-FP2)
1. Danny Kent (Honda) 2:13.715
2. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 2:13.906 +0.191
3. Romano Fenati (KTM) 2:14.082 +0.367
4. Jorge Navarro (Honda) 2:14.115 +0.400
5. Efren Vazquez (Honda) 2:14.184 +0.469
6. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 2:14.327 +0.612
11. Karel Hanika (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 2:14.481 +0.766

Miguel Oliveira,
“This first day went pretty well. At this circuit the first day is always used for adaptation, because of the heat. In the afternoon we changed a lot on the bike compared to the morning and I liked those changes, because in the end I was able to set a good time and get up to the front. Tomorrow we will try to do the same job, without pressure. My goal is to be up there in every session, I will give everything and try to finish amongst the top riders.”

Brad Binder,
“Today was a slightly strange day. This morning the feeling on the bike was a little off; I was quite tense and could not ride comfortably. In the second session, we played around with the suspension settings and things went better, although a final change for the last run did not go as we had wanted. Today we finished sixth, which is not a bad position to start the GP, but the feeling needs to be improved in order to go faster.”

Karel Hanika,
“It was not an easy day. The conditions have not been favourable, as it was so hot. We tried to find the fastest line at this circuit because it is quite difficult. It is a very wide track and has very different corners, so you need to pay special attention to each of them. In the morning we started working with the setup of the bike but I made some mistakes. In the afternoon we improved and each time we went faster. Finally, with the new tyre, the feeling was not bad at all.  There are some small changes that we have to do for tomorrow. For a first day I’m happy and looking forward to tomorrow to keep improving.”