After a disappointing 11th place at Phillip Island, Franco Morbidelli is looking for redemption at Sepan,g where he closed 12th last year on the Marc VDS team's Honda and where, even in the minor classes, he never won. Franco closed the first day of free practice in second position, behind his teammate, Fabio Quartararo, the star of a record lap.
"Fabio's time surprised me," said Morbidelli . "It's true that he knows the track very well, but a time like that is insane."
The French rider is putting pressure on the entire grid and is the leader of a new generation of riders, with Franco being the oldest representative. With them, Mir, Rins, Bagnaia, and all the young talents that will gradually come from the Moto2 and Moto3. Is this the real answer to Marquez's supremacy?
"Yes, there are a lot of young riders in this MotoGP ," Franco said . "But even Marquez is young . I don't think about a rider's age when I'm racing."
How did your day go today?
"Today was a positive day for me and for the whole team, " said Morbidelli. " I immediately started off fast, and it was important because I didn't have good sensations in Australia, while I got on the track, and I was fast right away here in Sepang. I have to continue to improve, especially when overtaking."
What race do you expect tomorrow?
"The weather conditions will be crucial tomorrow. If the weather were to hold up, I think that we could still improve today's times, which were still very fast, thanks to the new asphalt on Turns 1,2, and 12."
Yamaha seems to be the big favorite this weekend. What could bother you?
"We lose on the straight, but looking at the speed this morning, I don't think I saw a big difference between us and the others. We've be saying that Yamaha is strong since Misano. The difference this Friday was that all four of us were quite compact, apart from Fabio's insane lap."
Petronas has officially announced its bikes for next season, with Quartararo that, like you, will have an official M1 2020.
"Fabio deserved the 2020 bike," said Morbidelli. He did a crazy job this year, and he proved to be among the best. Here in Petronas everything is in the right place. The team is well placed in many aspects, both technical and human. You can see the results on the track because both riders are always fast, especially Quartararo."
Here at Sepang in February you went through one of the first tests with the Petronas team's Yamaha. What has changed since then?
"The bike and I have changed a lot. We've grown together, and this is thanks to the great work that I and the team have done throughout the season."
Audio recorded by Matteo Aglio