MotoGP star Franco Morbidelli and the Yamaha Sepang team have taken pole position for the inaugural Sepang Eight-Hours endurance race after today’s final top-ten trial.
The leading ten teams after combined qualifying all went out for a single-lap shootout and it was Morbidelli who emerged victorious ahead of Honda Team Asia’s Somikat Chantra and TSR Honda’s Josh Hook.
Jeremy Guarnoni took SRC Kawasaki to fourth place with the works BMW team, courtesty of Markus Reiterberger, in fifth place.
Despite competitors upping their game and Morbidelli taking a minor spill, Yamaha Sepang Racing kept the lead in qualifying. The team flying the Sepang International Circuit colours finished ahead of F.C.C. TSR Honda France, YART Yamaha and BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team. VRD Igol Pierret Experiences picked up 5th place ahead of the reigning champions Webike SRC Kawasaki France.
Hats off to Team ERC Endurance, in 7th place after their first track action on a Ducati Panigale V4R with the support of Ducati Corse. A combative Wójcik Racing Team took a provisional 8th spot on the grid ahead of Honda Asia Dream Racing with Showa and BMW Sepang Racing.
The fastest riders of these 10 teams in the lead post-qualifying will be back on the track for the Top 10 Trial from 7.15pm on. This Superpole-style session will have the individual riders each doing one flying lap. The top 10 positions on the starting grid will be reassigned on the basis of the laptimes set in the Top 10 Trial.
Having qualified in 11th place, Suzuki Endurance Racing Team will not take part in the Top 10 Trial. The two fastest Superstock teams are still locked in a duel in 12th and 13th place. This afternoon, Japanese team Tone RT Syncedge 4413 BMW got the better of Moto Ain by less than two-tenths of a second.
Yamaha Sepang Racing dominated the first qualifying session this morning at the Sepang International Circuit thanks to a magnificent lap – a 2’03.907 – by Morbidelli. Yamaha Sepang Racing were quicker than F.C.C. TSR Honda France and YART Yamaha. The second qualifying takes place this afternoon in Malaysia.
Franco Morbidelli set the FIM EWC’s first Sepang International Circuit lap record this morning with a 2:03.907 fastest lap. With his teammates Hafizh Syahrin and Michael van der Mark, who both set a 2:04, he took Yamaha Sepang Racing to provisional pole at the first edition of the 8 Hours of Sepang.
The toughest competition came from F.C.C. TSR Honda France. Josh Hook, Freddy Foray and Mike di Meglio took second place on the provisional grid ahead of YART Yamaha.
The Austrian factory-backed team will have to do without Marvin Fritz, who crashed right after going out on track this morning. As a result, only Broc Parkes and Niccolò Canepa posted lap times in qualifying. Maco Racing Team rider Karel Hanika could replace Marvin Fritz in the saddle of the YART Yamaha.
BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team, who are 4th on the provisional grid, face the same problem, with Kenny Foray withdrawing due to an injury sustained during the night test on Wednesday. But Werner Daemen, the manager of the factory BMW team, has decided to race with only his other two riders, Ilya Mykhalchyk and Markus Reiterberger.
VRD Igol Pierret Experiences set a very good pace to claim fifth place on the provisional grid, ahead of the FIM EWC reigning champion Webike SRC Kawasaki France. Team ERC Endurance got their Ducati Panigale V4R to seventh place ahead of Wójcik Racing Team, fresh from a remarkable performance at the Bol d’Or, Honda Asia Dream Racing with Showa, BMW Sepang Racing and Suzuki Endurance Racing Team, who are in eleventh place and continuing to fine-tune setup for the second session.
In the Superstock class, the battle lines have been drawn between French team Moto Ain, the winners of last season’s FIM Endurance World Cup, and Japanese BMW-mounted team Tone RT Syncedge 4413, the fastest Superstock at the Suzuka Eight-Hours.