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Onboard lap of Sepang

Onboard lap of Sepang

Onboard lap of Sepang

The Sepang track is one of the widest on the calendar, 16 metres across in some areas, and always features high track temperatures in the tropical climate. Races are won and lost at Sepang due to the ability of machinery to hold a line during turn in at several points of hard braking.

With four major hairpins, and some frequent changes of direction in its 5542m layout, Sepang gives brakes and front suspension a punishing test, under extreme operating conditions.

A popular testing venue, Sepang boasts a high grip co-efficient and a relatively bump free racing line. Fast sweeping corners also feature at Sepang, whilst changes in camber and elevation on some of the faster curves put extreme strain on grip on the entry and exit, making compromise the watchword in finding an ideal machine balance.

Neutrality of steering and suspension balance is the aim at Sepang, even if the frequent high braking loads require harder springs to be fitted than normal. The rear shock will also carry a high spring rating, to help the rear under hard acceleration from the many hairpins and low gear turns.

Sepang may not be the biggest test for tyres during the MotoGP season but the high-speed layout and steamy hot conditions certainly give both front and rear tyres a good workout.

Michelin have taken race victory, pole position and the lap record at all five events since the track hosted its first Grand Prix in 1999 and, after heading into the unknown at Qatar last week, their chief of motorcycling competitions Nicolas Goubert is looking forward to a more familiar challenge.

"The good news is that Sepang won't seem as hot as it usually does because we've just come from the desert!" says Goubert. "But apart from the heat, everything will be very different from Qatar. Unlike Losail, we know Sepang really well because we do a lot of testing here.

"It is a favourite track for testing because the weather conditions tend to be the same whether you're there in February or racing in October. Of course, that doesn't mean that it's any easier for everyone because we are all competing to be better than the others, whatever the circuit.

"From our experience I'd say Sepang is a medium-wear circuit. Although the conditions are usually very hot, the track isn't that demanding, certainly not like Phillip Island where the track temperature is much lower but the circuit is much tougher.

"In general I would say that track layout has more effect on tyres than track temperature. The Sepang layout is really varied, it's got a bit of everything, which makes it fun for the riders and interesting for us.

"Even though the track isn't hugely demanding on tyres our new profile rear should offer riders more than our original S4 rear gave them last year. The tyre gives more driving traction, and you can see from all the tyre marks on the Sepang tarmac that riders always need more traction accelerating out of the corners."

Check out the Sepang International Circuit for yourself by taking an onboard lap. Just click the video link at the top of the page.

Tags:
MotoGP, 2004, MARLBORO MALAYSIAN MOTORCYCLE GRAND PRIX

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