Sepang MotoGP: Riders slam new Sepang surface

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Casey Stoner, Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden led widespread criticism of Sepang’s new track surface at the end of the first day of the Malaysian MotoGP.

Rossi labelled the new tarmac a ‘disaster’ while Stoner said the new surface is more dangerous than the old and worn tarmac it replaced.

Resurfacing work has proved problematic for Sepang circuit officials with initial work carried out earlier this year needed improving recently in certain areas.

Fiat Yamaha rider Rossi, who slumped to only 16th today having struggled with serious grip issues, said: “It’s a disaster. The surface doesn’t have any grip.

"The problem is we have a lot of problems. Randy de Puniet and Casey make 2.02.9 and that is quite a good lap. But for us it is difficult.

"I tried a different tyre at the end as well that didn’t work. It’s possible to make better but to arrive on the podium we have to improve a lot.

"It’s a pity that we have to race in Malaysia with this surface. The track is fantastic but its like they have some problem when they make the work.

"They have to resurface some parts and unfortunately here it rains everyday. I don’t know how much the condition of the track will come better for Sunday.

"But from my point of view we will make a different setting for tomorrow. I’ll have one bike like in the test earlier this year that is very different to the bike I used today. We need some big modification.”

Rossi said the new surface appeared to have marginally improved the bumpy nature of Sepang, but admitted it was hard for him to properly assess the improvement because his lap times were too far off the leaders.

“For me the bumps are a little bit better but I am so slow I don’t know. I don’t feel a lot of problems from the bumps because I am very slow, “said Rossi, who was due to raise the issue of the new surface in tonight’s regular Safety Commission meeting with Dorna chief Carmelo Ezpeleta.

World champion Stoner was also highly critical of the new surface and the Aussie said: “It was always a little slippery but mostly very good. But now it’s a disaster. I’m disappointed in the new surface; it’s a lot bumpier than before.

"The old surface was very impressive, one of the smoothest with a just a few bumps. Now most of the corners we have a lot of bumps and they are progressive, like riding on the kerb.”

Stoner said the lack of grip caused him problems with his front and rear Bridgestone tyres and added: “I had a problem with both, because once you get into the corner the rear wants to slide out and the front wants to close in the faster corners. And with the bumps it brings a lot of chatter and instability to the front.”

Intermittent heavy rain showers had also caused a problem for riders being unable to precisely pinpoint what sections of track were wet and dry because of the darkness of the new surface.

Stoner added: “You have to wait for the right angle to be able to get some sun shining off the water so you can see where the wet patches are. Otherwise there was no way to see the damp patches. In the past the track looked almost wet and you could see it.”

Former world champion Nicky Hayden was another critic, saying it was strange that track resurfacing work could be bungled so badly after other problems in 2007 in Laguna Seca and the Sachsenring, both which were resurfaced for this season.

“The new track is really shredding tyres and even on slicks the most I get out of them is about seven laps.

"That’s my main concern right now. I don’t know what’s going on because its not just here but all these other resurfaced tracks.

"We didn’t get it no better in Laguna. They are worse than before.

"They aren’t doing a good job and maybe my Dad and I need to start Second Chance Paving and do something different. These guys need to get their money back because its pretty crap really, “said the American.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt