Once again the weather played a crucial role on the opening day of practice for the Malaysian Gran Prix at the Sepang circuit. Just before FP1, a light shower left the track too damp to use slicks and not wet enough to use Michelin’s rain tyres. When the surface finally dried out, Reale Avintia Racing rider Hector Barbera got quickly on the pace and set a fast lap of 2’01.147 to finish eighth overall.
Things were more difficult for his teammate Loris Baz, who finished 16th in dry conditions, 1.7s behind the fastest pace.
In the afternoon, torrential rain hit Sepang and the session was held in full wet conditions. Barbera started with an early crash in the last corner, when Iannone, trying to get towed by Viñales, got inside and left Hector without space. Trying to avoid a collision with the Italian, the Spaniard went straight, touching the Yamaha rider and crashing out. He went back on track and he finished 20th, without ever finding the feeling from last year, when he was fourth in the race,.
For Loris Baz, the wet session was like a nightmare. The Frenchman wasn’t able to find the feeling to push and although he tried everything with his crew to improve, nothing worked. He was last and far away from his usual performance in wet conditions.
“It was a strange first day. In the morning, the feeling in dry conditions was very good, despite the chatter. I think the three days of testing we did in the winter were really useful for us, as the bike is the same and the settings have worked well from the start. But this afternoon in wet conditions, we had no feeling at all. As soon as I started, I crashed and then I switched to my second bike, which didn’t give me good feelings either. We will see what the weather brings tomorrow. We are okay in dry conditions, but we must improve in the rain, because the feeling in wet conditions wasn’t good today and it’s likely the race on Sunday will be wet again.”
“I’m not happy about how things went on the first day and I don’t really find the reason. In the winter testm we were much better, but nothing worked today. In dry conditions, things were more or less okay, but this afternoon with the rain, we ran into a complete disaster. I had no grip on the rear and I had big moments in every corner. We have to analyze with Michelin what is going on, because the feeling is not good at all. I’m six seconds slower than in last year’s race. Since rain ist forecasted for the race on Sunday, we need to improve.”