Malaysian MotoGP, Sepang - Friday Practice Results

Friday practice results from the Malaysian MotoGP at Sepang, round 18 of 20 in the 2023 world championship.
2023 Malaysian MotoGP, Sepang - Practice (2) Results
1Alex MarquezSPAGresini Ducati (GP22)1'57.823s19/19331k
2Jorge MartinSPAPramac Ducati (GP23)+0.174s19/20333k
3Jack MillerAUSRed Bull KTM (RC16)+0.409s19/20334k
4Brad BinderRSARed Bull KTM (RC16)+0.484s19/19334k
5Maverick ViñalesSPAAprilia Racing (RS-GP23)+0.489s15/17333k
6Luca MariniITAMooney VR46 Ducati (GP22)+0.511s21/21330k
7Fabio QuartararoFRAMonster Yamaha (YZR-M1)+0.576s15/19331k
8Francesco BagnaiaITADucati Lenovo (GP23)+0.597s16/20334k
9Marco BezzecchiITAMooney VR46 Ducati (GP22)+0.627s18/21333k
10Johann ZarcoFRAPramac Ducati (GP23)+0.664s15/16331k
11Franco MorbidelliITAMonster Yamaha (YZR-M1)+0.748s15/19331k
12Enea BastianiniITADucati Lenovo (GP23)+0.782s19/19333k
13Augusto FernandezSPATech3 GASGAS (RC16)*+0.855s19/20330k
14Fabio Di GiannantonioITAGresini Ducati (GP22)+0.886s13/15327k
15Marc MarquezSPARepsol Honda (RC213V)+0.965s18/19332k
16Joan MirSPARepsol Honda (RC213V)+1.079s18/19334k
17Pol EspargaroSPATech3 GASGAS (RC16)+1.151s17/17332k
18Raul FernandezSPARNF Aprilia (RS-GP22)+1.201s13/15328k
19Miguel OliveiraPORRNF Aprilia (RS-GP22)+1.327s7/16332k
20Aleix EspargaroSPAAprilia Racing (RS-GP23)+1.903s4/9332k
21Takaaki NakagamiJPNLCR Honda (RC213V)+1.932s17/22327k
22Alvaro BautistaSPAAruba.It Ducati (GP23)+2.547s20/21326k
23Iker LecuonaSPALCR Honda (RC213V)+2.628s17/22328k


Official Sepang MotoGP records
Best lap: Jorge Martin 1m 57.790s (2022)
Fastest race lap: Jorge Martin 1m 59.634s (2022)

Alex Marquez charges to the top in Friday practice for the 2023 Malaysian MotoGP at Sepang, while brother and future team-mate Marc Marquez plus Aprilia's Aleix Espargaro are among those to miss the top ten cut and will take part in Saturday's Qualifying 1.

The hectic closing minutes saw a fall for Raul Fernandez, causing some laps to be cancelled, while morning leader and title challenger Jorge Martin had three Hondas (Marc Marquez, Joan Mir and Takaaki Nakagami) in his wake, desperately seeking a tow.

The Pramac rider had the pace to pull clear and duly set the first 1m 57s lap of the weekend on his penultimate lap. But the battle wasn't over with Gresini Ducati's Alex Marquez pipping Martin for the top spot by just 0.174s on his final lap.

The KTMs of Jack Miller and Brad Binder were third and fourth, followed by the lead Aprilia of Maverick Vinales, Luca Marini's VR46 Ducati plus the Yamaha of Fabio Quartararo, who was angry with team-mate Franco Morbidelli, who made a big save at the end of the session.

Just 15th this morning after staying on used rubber, reigning champion and title leader Francesco Bagnaia was eighth this afternoon with Marco Bezzecchi and Johann Zarco completing the list of direct Qualifying 2 riders.

After a fiery fall at the last corner this morning, Aleix Espargaro's day went from bad to worse when he slid off at Turn 1 early this afternoon, followed by a fall at Turn 9... then another lowside at the fast Turn 5! Espargaro was left just 20th on the timesheets, but at least there weren't any more flames.

After the heat problems in Thailand, when the RS-GP riders struggled to breathe, a new air duct was fitted on Friday, directing fresh air from the screen to the rider's face when tucked in on the straights.

WorldSBK champion Alvaro Bautista, 22nd and +3s after remaining on used tyres this morning, was +2.5s for the same position (ahead of LCR stand in Iker Lecuona) this afternoon.

After soft front and hard rear tyres were used by most riders this morning, mediums (front and rear) were the overwhelming choice this afternoon.

2023 Malaysian MotoGP, Sepang - Practice (1) Results
1Jorge MartinSPAPramac Ducati (GP23)1'59.513s14/16330k
2Alex MarquezSPAGresini Ducati (GP22)+0.049s16/17331k
3Johann ZarcoFRAPramac Ducati (GP23)+0.401s13/14332k
4Franco MorbidelliITAMonster Yamaha (YZR-M1)+0.542s11/16331k
5Fabio QuartararoFRAMonster Yamaha (YZR-M1)+0.621s13/17332k
6Luca MariniITAMooney VR46 Ducati (GP22)+0.729s14/18330k
7Aleix EspargaroSPAAprilia Racing (RS-GP23)+0.731s9/11328k
8Marco BezzecchiITAMooney VR46 Ducati (GP22)+0.738s15/15329k
9Pol EspargaroSPATech3 GASGAS (RC16)+0.785s14/14326k
10Augusto FernandezSPATech3 GASGAS (RC16)*+0.954s13/18327k
11Jack MillerAUSRed Bull KTM (RC16)+1.006s13/17332k
12Miguel OliveiraPORRNF Aprilia (RS-GP22)+1.081s12/18329k
13Raul FernandezSPARNF Aprilia (RS-GP22)+1.267s13/13326k
14Fabio Di GiannantonioITAGresini Ducati (GP22)+1.356s11/15327k
15Francesco BagnaiaITADucati Lenovo (GP23)+1.375s12/16333k
16Enea BastianiniITADucati Lenovo (GP23)+1.389s7/18332k
17Marc MarquezSPARepsol Honda (RC213V)+1.597s6/15330k
18Brad BinderRSARed Bull KTM (RC16)+1.665s14/16331k
19Joan MirSPARepsol Honda (RC213V)+1.835s10/15331k
20Maverick ViñalesSPAAprilia Racing (RS-GP23)+1.839s15/16332k
21Takaaki NakagamiJPNLCR Honda (RC213V)+2.024s13/17325k
22Alvaro BautistaSPAAruba.It Ducati (GP23)+3.003s9/15324k
23Iker LecuonaSPALCR Honda (RC213V)+3.780s12/15320k


Official Sepang MotoGP records
Best lap: Jorge Martin 1m 57.790s (2022)
Fastest race lap: Jorge Martin 1m 59.634s (2022)

MotoGP title contender Jorge Martin starts the 2023 Malaysian GP as he means to go on by leading FP1 at Sepang.

But while Martin joined most riders in fitting new fresh rubber at the end of the 45 minutes (albeit on mediums, rather than soft front-hard rear), title leader Francesco Bagnaia kept his usual tactic of sticking with old tyres on the way to 15th place.

There were more 'heat' problems for Aprilia, with Aleix Espargaro's RS-GP catching fire after a harmless-looking fall at the final turn. Espargaro initially ran over to the bike, but soon sprinted away again when big flames began firing out of the exhaust.

WorldSBK champion Alvaro Bautista began his first grand prix weekend since 2018 with 22nd place, ahead of Iker Lecuona, with a lap time 3.003s from Martin.

Just 13 points separate reigning champion Francesco Bagnaia from title rival Jorge Martin heading into the final triple header of the MotoGP season, starting at Sepang this weekend.

While Bagnaia holds a narrow points advantage, momentum is back with Martin after taking a perfect double of Sprint and GP victories last time out in Thailand.

However, Martin was also among several riders to receive an official warning for low tyre pressure in the Buriram GP. Another infringement in the remaining rounds will result in the Pramac rider receiving a 3s post-race time penalty.

With tyre pressure tricky to predict, varying massively depending on if a rider is leading or following, the best way Martin can now be sure of keeping future race victories is to win on track by a margin of at least 3s... The same applies to any other finishing position he achieves.

Aside from the title fight, the big news this weekend is a wild-card entry for reigning World Superbike champion Alvaro Bautista. The Spaniard, making his first MotoGP start since 2018, is riding a factory spec Ducati GP23 in Aruba.It colours.

Bautista is not the only WorldSBK rider on the grid with Alex Rins, who missed Thailand after undergoing further leg surgery, replaced by Iker Lecuona for both Sepang and next weekend’s Qatar round.

Sepang was the venue for the opening pre-season test of the year, in February, when Luca Marini (fastest), Francesco Bagnaia, Maverick Vinales, Enea Bastianini and Jorge Martin were all covered by 0.315s at the top of the timesheets.

Weather forecasts currently warn of an increasing risk of rain as the weekend goes on, rising to over 90% by lunchtime on Sunday…

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