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MotoGP Malaysia: Riders surprised by 'new' final turn at Sepang

"We don't have a type of corner like this during the whole season"
Many MotoGP riders have expressed surprise at the radical camber of the re-profiled final corner at the Sepang International Circuit, venue for this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix.

Not only has the whole circuit been resurfaced for this season's race, but changes have been made to nine sections of the track, with the most eye-catching at Turn 15.

The final corner now has a large amount of negative camber on the inside, to try and slow riders onto the following main straight and also to solve the issue of puddles forming.

CLICK HERE for more on the circuit changes.

With the exception of Cal Crutchlow, who tested at the circuit in July, riders got their first look at the redesign when they arrived fresh from last weekend's Phillip Island race.

"I was cycling the track and I thought my inside pedal touched the asphalt," said Suzuki's Aleix Espargaro. "The banking is so heavy. For me there is no sense to make the banking like this. The risk to crash is very, very high. I've never seen a corner like this."

Younger brother Pol Espargaro expressed a similar view and believes the corner could prove a particular challenge for the Michelin front.

"The change is so big. We don't have a type of corner like this during the whole season," said the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider. "It's negative [camber], but it's a lot. It's clear to see when you are walking, so you can imagine on the bike. It's huge.

"If you want to make a faster or more fun corner, you have to do positive [camber].

"The problem is that at some races we've faced some problems with the front tyres, with Michelin. So if here for whatever reason we have a problem with the front, it will be the most critical corner of the season."


Having ridden the turn, Australian Grand Prix winner Crutchlow described it as: "A strange corner now. The braking point is nearly the same, but with the drop in the track going down so much you really have to be patient with the exit.

"We saw in the Formula One, they were just going around the outside of the corner as much as possible to miss the banking. That doesn't really work on our bikes but we'll try it! We'll try every line.

"I didn't really think they needed to do that into the last corner, but it adds a bit more excitement I suppose for everyone."

While no rider likes negative camber, due to the loss of grip and therefore speed, the success of the corner re-design will ultimately come down to how well it controls top speeds on the straight (run-off at turn one cannot be extended) and prevents puddles.

The other concern raised by Crutchlow at the test was water seeping through the asphalt.

"It seems that maybe they might have been able to fix it. I don't know. But when there were only three bikes we were riding around really slow, way off the lap times of last year," said the LCR Honda rider.

"But we know from the World Superbike race, they were going faster than other years, so we know the grip is good once the track is clean. Hopefully the weather will stay dry this weekend, but it doesn't look like it at the moment…"

Either way, Pol Espargaro believes data from the pre-season test will no longer be relevant.

"The track is completely different. F1 was five seconds faster."

By Peter McLaren






Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Negative camber on last turn at Sepang (pic: Peter McLaren)
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Smith crash, Jerez WSBK/MotoGP tests.November 2016
Smith crash, Jerez WSBK/MotoGP tests.November 2016
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Sam Lowes, Jerez WSBK/MotoGP tests.November 2016
Sam Lowes, Jerez WSBK/MotoGP tests.November 2016
Redding, Jerez WSBK/MotoGP tests.November 2016
Redding, Jerez WSBK/MotoGP tests.November 2016
Redding, Jerez WSBK/MotoGP tests.November 2016
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Petrucci, Jerez WSBK/MotoGP tests.November 2016

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TrueFan

October 27, 2016 6:44 PM

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