Sepang : Repsol Honda - Day 2
In unprecedented scenes at Sepang, qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix was cancelled today after torrential rain and standing water on the track made the conditions unsafe.
With the starting grid decided on each rider's fastest time
from the weekend's three practice sessions, Nicky Hayden will start tomorrow's 21-lap MotoGP race from second on the grid. His Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa, who was hurt in a fall yesterday, will start the race from fifth.
In the dry morning session Hayden made the most of improved settings on his RC211V and was fast from the start, working on race set-up and choosing the best Michelin race tyre. Towards the end of the hour the 25-year-old American star, who leads the world championship by 25 points, was one of several riders to try a qualifying tyre ahead of the afternoon shoot-out. It was a decision that was to prove beneficial when the afternoon session was finally cancelled at 4.15pm.
After yesterday's crash which left Pedrosa with four stitches in his right knee and a crack in a bone of his left big toe, the young Spaniard bravely returned to his bike this morning. Despite some discomfort, he rode 18 laps at reduced pace and confirmed that he is able to race tomorrow. The afternoon wash-out was to prove helpful to the reigning 250cc World Champion whose impressive speed yesterday afternoon secured him fifth on the starting grid.
A 20-minute warm up tomorrow morning will precede the race which is scheduled to begin at 15:00hrs local time (09.00hrs CET), weather permitting. The entire MotoGP paddock will be keeping a careful watch on the skies.
Nicky Hayden (2nd – 2m 01.
043s): "I felt a lot better today than yesterday – we made some changes overnight that really helped. Hopefully we can continue in that direction tomorrow and be strong in the race. It's good to be on the front row, especially if it rains. I think maybe the grid should have been decided on world championship points – no I'm joking. If I'd have been ninth I'm sure I wouldn't have been so happy but perhaps we have to come up with something in the rule book to make things clear in this situation. Hopefully tomorrow we can make it up to the fans and put on a good show for them because there were some die-hard fans who waited around all day and got teased a few times when the bikes would fire up, only for the session to be cancelled at 4.15. We've still got a little work to do to be on the pace tomorrow, but we'll use the warm up and give it all we've got in the race."
Dani Pedrosa (5th – 2m 02.021s): "This afternoon I think for the first time in my career the rain has brought me luck! I couldn't have imagined starting from fifth position if it had been a dry qualifying session, so that was a big present for me. This morning I was just testing my performance on the bike – for sure it wasn't 100 per cent but I was able to ride and change gear ok. It felt so-so – not really bad, but not so good either. I don't know about my race pace. I think the bike set-up is about ready although I haven't had time to test all the race Michelins I would have liked to. Tomorrow morning I will have to practise the start because I have some pain in both legs, and also I'm very small which won't help. Tomorrow I will see how I feel to make a decision if I have to have any painkillers before the race. I'll do my best. I have to say thank you to everybody because I have received a lot of help, especially in the Clinica Mobile because they are taking good care of me, and my team has worked very hard too."
Makoto Tanaka – Team Manager : "Since I have followed Grand Prix racing I don't remember a qualifying session being rained off. Nicky did a fast lap this morning and has a front row start which is a good result from today. He got the right set-up this morning and improved his lap time a lot from yesterday which is positive. This afternoon he wanted to make further improvements, but the very heavy rain meant there was no more practice time – that's life. We need to do some more work to get the best set-up for him but we believe we can use tomorrow's warm up session for this. Dani got fifth place because of his fast pace yesterday. This is very lucky for Dani. With the afternoon session cancelled it also meant that he could rest and continue to recover, which is also good for him. Normally he doesn't like rain, but today it was welcome for him. It could be a very unpredictable race tomorrow."