MOTOGP

Márquez forgets tummy troubles to log best practice time

Marc Márquez logged the fastest time in Friday practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix but had to cut short his warm-up due to stomach trouble.

Márquez forgets tummy troubles to log best practice time
FAZRY ISMAIL EFE

Delicate stomach

Recently crowned MotoGP champion Marc Márquez logged the fastest time in Friday's practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix but had to cut short his warm-up due to stomach trouble.

The Repsol Honda rider, who locked up the season title in Japan two weeks ago, posted a best lap of 2min, 1.21secs on a dry track in the morning. But a bout of gastroenteritis forced him to pull out of the afternoon session, when Malaysia's tropical rains left the track wet, putting the brakes on lap speeds.

Riders on Friday were getting acquainted with tweaked conditions including a surface repaving at the Sepang International Circuit ahead of Sunday's event. Fellow Spaniard Maverick Vinales, who is now fourth in the world championship standings, was 0.268 seconds behind his compatriot. Britain's Scott Redding was third-fastest trailing by 0.297 seconds.

Márquez edges ahead of Alvaro Bautista

Commanding position

Márquez has an unassailable 57-point lead in the championship standings but has vowed no let-up in the final two races, at Sepang and next month at Valencia.

“We'll try here to push from the beginning again, but with a different result”, he had said before today’s practice. “I'd like to finish as a minimum,' he said, a reference to his crashing out of the Australian Grand Prix last weekend. But hopefully I'll get on the podium and fight for the victory”.

Battle for second

Márquez's clinching of the title leaves Italian legend Valentino Rossi, a nine-time motorcycling world champion, trying to hold off his Movistar Yamaha team mate Jorge Lorenzo in the fight for second-place.

Rossi posted the fifth-fastest lap on Friday, 0.401 seconds behind Márquez. Lorenzo, who won the world title last year, was only tenth-fastest on Friday, 0.803 seconds off Márquez's speed. Sepang is among the trickiest tracks due to the tropical heat and frequent rain.

The track has been resurfaced and some of its banking modified. Officials have said the re-surfacing will help hasten water run-off and improve tyre grip.

Just ahead of Rossi on Friday was Andrea Iannone, who is returning to competition in Sepang for the first time since he suffered a vertebrae fracture in a crash in early September. Like Márquez, he sat out the afternoon session, saying he did not want to risk a tumble on the slick surface, according to Motorsport.com.