MORBIDELLI SECURES POLE POSITION FOR YAMAHA SEPANG RACING IN MALAYSIA
The Yamaha Sepang Racing Team will start the inaugural 8 Hours of Sepang race from pole position, after a dominant qualifying performance today in Malaysia. The Yamaha Sepang trio of Franco Morbidelli, Michael van der Mark and Hafizh Syahrin looked untouchable in qualifying today. All three topped the timesheet in their respective qualifying sessions this morning, with the Italian MotoGP rider posting the fastest lap of all with a time of 2’03.907, which was more than enough to secure provisional pole for the Endurance World Championship debutants after Q1.
A minor crash in Q2 for Morbidelli meant the 2017 Moto2 World Champion was unable to improve upon his previous best and the same was true of van der Mark and Syahrin. However, their average from Q1 was enough to secure provisional pole position for Yamaha Sepang Racing, while Morbidelli’s fastest time meant that he was the final starter in this evening’s Top 10 Trial, which was run under the floodlights at the Sepang International Circuit.
It was a new scenario for Morbidelli who, unlike teammates van der Mark and Syahrin, has no previous experience of theEWC Top 10 Trial, in which riders take to the track individually and have just one flying lap in which to set their best time. Undeterred, the MotoGP rider simply went out and pushed to the limit, besting his closest rival by 0.793s to secure pole position with a time of 2’04.647.
The inaugural 8 Hours of Sepang race gets underway at 13.00 local time (06.00 CET) on Saturday 14th December, with the final part of the race set to run under the recently installed floodlights at the Sepang International Circuit.
Michael van der Mark – Yamaha Sepang Racing Team: “We’ve enjoyed a strong start to the race weekend, with Franco posting a fantastic lap in the Top 10 Trial to turn our provisional pole from qualifying into the actual pole position for Saturday’s race. Even more important is our constant improvement and the better feeling with our YZF-R1 that we all gain with every exit. All three of us have a really good pace, so I’m sure we can fight at front in the first ever 8 Hours of Sepang race on Saturday. I’m looking forward to it!”
Franco Morbidelli – Yamaha Sepang Racing Team: “It’s always good to qualify on pole, but it’s also fun to do it in the way they do here in EWC, with just one lap on an empty track to set your fastest time. The format certainly gets the adrenaline flowing, as you try to squeeze every little bit of speed from the bike. Tomorrow we will take advantage of the rest day before returning to the track on Saturday. In the race we’ll try and do our job in the best way and try to secure the best result possible. This will be my first EWC race, but it’s a fun series and I’m enjoying the challenge, so thanks to Yamaha, to the Sepang International Circuit and to the team for giving me this opportunity.”
Hafizh Syahrin – Yamaha Sepang Racing Team: “I’m very happy that we were able to secure pole position in front of mine and the team’s home crowd for the first ever 8 Hours of Sepang race. It’s sure to be a tough race in hot conditions on Saturday but we believe in our package, which is really strong, so let’s see what we can do. We need to patient in the race, avoid making any mistakes when dealing with traffic on track and make sure our pit stops are as slick as possible. I believe in the team; I have faith in my teammates, and I think we can do a good job in the race.”