Top5 for Zarco to start Malaysian GP


Ajo Motorsport rider shows good pace at the start of the penultimate round of the season, visit nurse setting the fifth fastest time.

The Moto2 riders began to set up their bikes for Sunday in both wet and dry conditions on the opening day of the Malaysian Grand Prix. Johann Zarco, who has a first opportunity to seal the 2016 title this weekend, started strong at the Sepang International Circuit, performing well in both free practice sessions contested. He set his best lap in the afternoon –2:09.033, fifth–, in the only dry session.

The first practice session was not an easy one for the Ajo Motorsport rider. Before completing his first flying lap, he suffered a small crash at Turn 14. He headed back to the pits, but just before attempting to go back out rain hit the track, leaving the surface wet for the final 25 minutes. Zarco set his best lap in these conditions –2:24.586, putting him 23rd– showing he has a good pace in the wet.

The intermediate class riders were the only ones to lower their times in the afternoon. They were able to use slicks from the outset and improved lap after lap. Zarco undertook a long first stint of ten flying laps, putting him among the top three riders. After a single stop in the pits, the Frenchman set his fastest lap of the entire day –2:09.033–, which gave him fifth place.

Qualifying for the Malaysian GP starts at 3:05pm local time on Sunday –9:05am CET. Last year, Zarco was second on the grid.

Results (Combined practice time FP1-FP2)
1. Franco Morbidelli (Kalex) 2:08.816
2. Takaaki Nakagami (Kalex) 2:08.905 +0.089
3. Alex Marquez (Kalex) 2:08.916 +0.100
4. Jonas Folger (Kalex) 2:09.028 +0.212
5. Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) 2:09.033 +0.217

“The first day in Malaysia has been good. The first session was dry, but I crashed when I made contact with a wet spot. I went back to the garage and then it started to rain a lot. It has been interesting to ride in wet conditions; I had a good pace compared to my rivals. In the afternoon we were able to put on slicks throughout the session, but still there were some wet spots that made everything a little more difficult, as you can push on some corners but have to be careful and very focused in order not to crash. I am happy because we have not finished far from the top positions. My feelings on the bike are good and we continue to work with the team to get even better. The weekend has started well, now we must see if we can be faster with this new asphalt than we were last year –something that so far has not been the case because of the track conditions.”