SEPANG CIRCUIT SET FOR EMOTIONAL RETURN AS MOTOGP RIDERS CONVERGE FOR FIRST OFFICIAL TESTING

Published on January 25th, 2012

The MotoGP fraternity will revisit the scene of one of the most tragic incidences in the history of the motorcycling world championships, when all the riders return to the Sepang International Circuit for the first official MotoGP testing starting on the 31st of January.

It will be an emotional return for all the MotoGP riders as this will be first time the riders will return to Sepang International Circuit after the tragic death of San Carlo Honda Gresini rider, Marco Simoncelli last October during the Malaysian MotoGP.

RIP Marco Simoncelli

the late Marco Simoncelli in action

On a positive note, Sepang is set to kick off another exciting season with the first MotoGP official testing on the 31st January to the 2ndFebruary followed by the second testing session on the 28th February to 1stMarch.

“MotoGP will be back and the action start here in Sepang. And, the new season looks set to be the most emotional and exciting ever,” declared Datuk Ahmad Razlan Ahmad Razali, the Chief Executive Officer of Sepang International Circuit (SIC).

“There’s perennial favourite, Valentino Rossi who will adorn Ducati colours for the second consecutive season; defending champion, Casey Stoner with Honda and Dani Pedrosa. There will also be a debut for Moto2 champion, Stefan Bradl.

Casey Stoner
Dani Pedrosa

“More good news for the fans as 2010 champion, Jorge Lorenzo will be back in action on Yamaha’s new factory YZR-M1 MotoGP bike at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia on January 31.

“It will be the first time he will be on a MotoGP bike since his 2011 season was ended in premature and painful fashion when he crashed during the warm-up session for the Australian Grand Prix which forced him to miss the last two races in Sepang and Valencia,” said Razlan, adding that the MotoGP riders last tested their bikes in November in Valencia after the final race of 2011.

SIC’s reputation as one of the few circuits around to be selected as the official circuit for MotoGP testing is a testament to the excellent safety features and technical specifications of the track.

Valentino Rossi will have a new machine this season
Jorge Lorenzo is expected to go on full force to reclaim the championship

“SIC is proud to be one of the few circuits to be the official circuit for MotoGP testing and our circuit is favourable and well-liked by both riders and especially manufacturers in developing their bikes,” said Razlan.

“The presence of the riders is also a main draw for the fans from Malaysia and around the world and provides numerous economic impacts to our country through income from tourism spending.

“Tourists who come for the MotoGP testing will boost our country’s economy by spending on hotels, shopping and other activities during their stay in Malaysia,” added Razlan.

The first of two official testing with the second test scheduled later in the final week of February will see 21 teams testing with the new Claiming Rule Team (CRT) bikes and riders making their debut on the circuit.

Among the new CRT teams making their first appearance on the grid are Edwards (Forward Racing), Danilo Petrucci (Ioda Racing Project), Anthony West (Speed Master), Randy De Puniet (Aspar Team), Aleix Espargaro (Aspar Team), Ivan Silva (BQR-FTR), Michele Pirro (Honda Gresini), Yonny Hernandez (BQR-FTR) and James Ellison (Paul Bird Racing).

From 2012, teams not entered by one of the major manufacturers may seek Claiming Rule Team (CRT) status. CRT is intended to allow independent teams to be competitive at a lower cost and increase the number of entries in MotoGP.

Although the initial verdict was that the CRT bikes will be slower than the Prototype MotoGP bikes that will be on the grid, Colin Edwards, has given the thumbs up after testing the BMW/Suter CRT at Jerez with the overall impression being that the bike was better than he first expected.

The debut of these new CRT bikes will provide more excitement and proves a challenge to the traditional 800cc MotoGP prototype bikes and we look forward for the Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix come 19th to 21st October.

Sepang’s MotoGP official tests will also give the fans the first glimpse of the riders and their new machines for the new season, including defending champion, Casey Stoner and perennial fan favourite, Valentino Rossi.

Ducati Corse boss Filippo Preziosi recently previewed the technical details of the 2012 Ducati Desmosecici that Rossi and Nicky Hayden will ride this season.

“The GP12 is a complete redesign of bike tested by Rossi in Valencia, but it will look deceivingly similar. It will still sport an aluminum perimetric frame and carbon swingarm, but they are new editions and the only components that actually remain the same are parts of the front (forks and steering components).

He assured that the rest of the bike is completely redesigned, stating: “Ninety percent of the parts are brand new.”

He also offered that with new chassis, the engine position will be able to be adjusted more, though declined to provide details regarding changes to the V angle (the angle between the two banks of the four cylinders) of the GP12 engine, which Ducati has traditionally run at a larger angle than their competitors using a V-four configuration.

In conjunction with the MotoGP pre-season test session in SIC, the main grandstand will be opened for fans to watch it for free while enjoying special early bird ticket promotion for the 2012 Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix. Additional to that, whoever that purchase MotoGP ticket at the circuit during the testing session, can also enjoy 50% discount on 2012 Formula 1 PETRONAS Malaysia Grand Prix hillstand tickets from just RM30.

“For the test, we will be opening the Main Grandstand for Malaysian fans to come and see their idols in action. There will no charge and fans could take advantage of their trip to buy the discounted tickets from only RM40 for MotoGP race in October and a special 50% discount on hillstand tickets for F1. Fans get to enjoy both international events such as F1 and MotoGP for less than RM100.” said Razlan.

For more details, check out SIC.

words & pix: SIC

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