MotoGP Sepang: Martin ‘on the limit for incredible lap’| Christina Bulpett | MotoGP
Prima Pramac’s Jorge Martin followed up his Phillip Island pole position with the same again at Sepang on Saturday afternoon.
An impressive 1’57.790 lap secured the head of the Malaysian Grand Prix grid for the Spaniard and with it a new all-time lap record at the Sepang International Circuit. His closest challenger, Enea Bastianini, half a second off.
Despite having already topped the combined times by the close of FP3 and circulated third in the final session, it wasn’t all plain sailing for the Ducati rider. A crash in FP4 saw the 24-year-old down at turn nine before he quickly regrouped on his second GP22.
“It’s always difficult to go to ’57,” Martin admitted on his achievement. “Today was really, really hot so I didn’t expect to make this laptime. Also after the FP4 crash, so I lost a bit the confidence.
“The first run I did ‘58.0 and I did two mistakes so I said ‘Okay, maybe it’s possible’.
“I thought the rest of the guys, some of them will improve on that ’58.0 so that’s why I tried harder and finally ’57.7 is an amazing lap. Still really looking forward to seeing on the data how I did it because it actually was on the limit, but incredible and really happy.
“I was just starting FP4,” he explained on his final practice crash. “On the third lap I tried to push a little bit hard in corner nine. I released the brakes too early and I lose the front but I’m not thinking a lot because straight away on the second bike with a different setup, I felt good. Just a small crash that I lost a bit of confidence on the front on that corner but later I gain it again so not a big problem.”
With the majority expected to run a medium/soft combination of Michelin tyres for Sunday’s 20-lap race, Martin is feeling confident of the choice despite his lack of running due to the crash.
“I think those are the race tyres,” the Pramac rider agreed. “The pace is good. It’s a pity that I crashed because I would like to see a bit more with the medium/soft but yeah, even though with a medium rear I did a great pace.
“I feel like I am one of the strongest for tomorrow.
“For sure the physical condition will be tough, we need to manage a little bit at the beginning but it’s the same for everybody so we will try our best.”
Martin’s late-season resurgence comes after a difficult run of form as 2022 got up to speed.
“We were really lost in the middle of the season with the front end, with the forks,” he explained. “We did a lot of changes and that’s why I lost the confidence. But for sure again with my normal setup I’ve been always super fast. Now we are not touching the bike, this is the main thing and that’s why I am competitive!”