Monster Yamaha Tech3 team riders Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith confidently look on to the forthcoming Malaysian GP where they fully intend to round up the third consecutive flyaway Grand Prix with two strong results. The pioneering Sepang International Circuit will hold the penultimate event of the 2016 MotoGP World Championship this Sunday with a large number of enthusiastic fans expected to witness the action on track, after almost 89, 000 people attended race day last year.
Pol Espargaro aims to extend his competitive form in the triple back-to-back GP’s by completing the Malaysian round in a top tier position aboard his Yamaha YZR-M1. The young Spaniard comes off the back of a notable showing in Australia, where he qualified on the front row and finished the sprint in 5th. Therefore, on Sunday he will once again be gunning to clinch the top satellite honours in what will be a demanding 20-lap sprint.
Meanwhile, Bradley Smith targets a solid result in Malaysia after exceeding expectations at Phillip Island by completing the race in 8th after a heroic ride, despite still suffering with a knee injury. The British star, who is approaching full fitness, intends to wrestle his MotoGP bike around the 5.5-kilometre circuit and end the weekend with another impressive performance.
Championship: 8th - Points: 117
"Next up is Sepang and I am fired up for the challenge, plus I hope to continue my good form during the flyaway GP’s as the season draws to a close. In all honesty, the Malaysian circuit is not one of my favourites because everyone knows every detail as we have ridden it so many times during the winter tests, so I feel like the rider can’t really make a big difference. In addition, the factory teams have a huge amount of data so the distance between them and the satellite guys is usually quite significant. However, I also have positive memories of this track as I scored four podium finishes there over the last 7 years. Plus the circuit has been resurfaced since the winter tests and hopefully we will have some surprises with the Michelin tyres so I remain optimistic about my chances. In any case, I will do my absolute best at this GP, as always, before we head back to my home country for the season finale in Valencia."
Championship: 17th - Points: 53
"We know that the Malaysian Grand Prix is always challenging, not only with the heat and the humidity, but also because the track is very physically demanding as there are a lot of corners and hard braking areas. We are coming off the back of two consecutive MotoGP weekends and this one will be the third in succession yet, it’s a circuit that I do like, and of course, I am looking forward to riding it. I’ve got some good memories of Sepang, such as last year where I finished fourth in the GP. With regards to my injury, I feel like my knee is getting stronger all the time, so we’ll see how I do in the challenging conditions but I am upbeat. Right now, we have found a solid balance with the bike and I am closing in on full fitness, so let’s try to keep the momentum and we will take the positives from the Australia weekend in order to be ready for the heat of Sepang."
Hervé Poncharal - Team manager:
“Now the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team head to Sepang, which is the last of the back to back races. These three events are always quite tough for the team, the crew, but especially for the riders and I think everyone is looking forward to having a short rest in Malaysia. The positive thing about this long trip is that Bradley came back in Japan and both Motegi and Phillip Island were quite good to him. His condition is improving and he is almost back to his previous level before the nasty injury. Meanwhile, Pol is pushing non-stop and enjoying himself on the bike, therefore it’s clear to see that they both want to end the flyaway GP’s on a high note. All the riders know Sepang very well because they have tested there so many times, but Yamaha has always done an impressive job at this track, so hopefully we can repeat the performances from Australia at Sepang. The Malaysian round always attracts so many people and the crowd is very enthusiastic. The motorcycle industry is booming in that part of the world, therefore, it is clearly an important Grand Prix and we need to continue our run of positive results there. In addition, the circuit has been resurfaced recently and we are looking forward to experiencing the new tarmac because we heard that the grip is a lot better and it is less bumpy, so it will be interesting to sample it soon.”