Morbidelli and Lüthi ready for brutal physical challenge in scorching Sepang
The most intensive phase of the MotoGP calendar draws to its conclusion this weekend when the 5.5km Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia hosts the last installment of the traditional overseas triple-header.
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders Franco Morbidelli and Thomas Lüthi will undergo the most demanding physical examination of the MotoGP World Championship when they encounter the unforgiving heat and humidity of the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia.
Air temperatures frequently peak at well over 35 degrees and track temperature can reach as high as a sizzling 50 degrees, which provides a stern test for both man and machine.
Franco Morbidelli will take to the track on Friday morning in high spirits after he rode to a MotoGP best eighth position last weekend in Australia to take a commanding 12-point lead in the race to be crowned Rookie of the Year.
This weekend’s trip to Kuala Lumpur means a return to the scene of the greatest moment of Morbidelli’s career so far. It was in Sepang one year ago that Morbidelli became the first Italian rider to lift the Moto2 crown when he finished third from pole position.
Tom Lüthi is more determined than ever to break his points duck in Sepang and he too has happy memories of the Malaysia track. His win by the slender advantage of 0.002s over Mika Kallio in the 2005 125cc race remains the sixth closest finish in the history of the lightweight World Championship.
A leg injury resulting from a heavy qualifying crash unfortunately ruled Lüthi out of last year’s race and that absence meant he lost the title to current teammate Morbidelli.
MotoGP practice starts at 1055am local time on Friday and round 18 of the World Championship will get underway at 3pm on Sunday afternoon.
Franco Morbidelli: 14th in the overall standings on 46-points
“I have great memories of Sepang when I won the Moto2 title”
“I’m looking forward to going to Sepang after such a positive race in Phillip Island. I tested at Sepang earlier this year, so we have some reference and some data to use that should help me. I wasn’t super-fast in the test, so hopefully that will change and I can improve. It will be very hot and physically demanding but I have great memories of Malaysia because it was there one year ago I won the Moto2 title. And the target will be to move closer to win the Rookie of the Year title.”
Tom Lüthi: 27th in the overall standings
“I will keep my motivation high like always”
“I tested in Sepang during the winter but that was a long time ago. I really like the Sepang track and it will be good to be back on track so quickly to try and get over the frustrating weekend in Phillip Island. I will keep my motivation high and do my best like always to be as strong as possible.”
Track facts / Sepang International Circuit (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
Length: 3.444 miles (5.543 metres)
Width: 52.49 ft. (16 metres)
Corners: 5 (left) + 10 (right)
Longest straight: 3018.37 ft. (920 metres)
MotoGP Race: 20 laps, 68.8 miles (110.9 km)
Best pole: Dani Pedrosa (1'59.053 – 2015)
Circuit record: Jorge Lorenzo (2'00.606 – 2015)
Top speed: Andrea Iannone, 210.6 mph (339.6 kph) – 2015)
2017 race winner: Andrea Dovizioso (44'51.497)