21.10.2011: GP of Malaysia, Sepang, Friday
Thomas Luthi had a great start into the Malaysian Grand Prix. In blistering tropical heat, the 25-year-old Swiss star of Team Interwetten Paddock Moto2 rode to fifth place on the first day of practice on the 5,5 kilometre Sepang circuit and was only 0.145 seconds behind German Stefan Bradl in provisional pole position. For qualifying on Saturday, crew chief Alfred Willeke and the other technicians are now trying to find a little more grip, but are otherwise satisfied with the set-up of Luthi’s Suter MMXI prototype.
It was also a lucky day for Luthi since he managed to avoid a serious incident in the morning that left British rider Bradley Smith sidelined for the rest of the weekend with broken ribs and Spaniard Marc Márquez sidelined for the rest of the day with bruises and mild concussion. A brief rainshower had soaked turn 10, a remote corner of the track. Since the track marshals failed to wave the appropriate flags, a multiple crash happened. For creating “a very dangeours situation for the riders”, the organiser was penalised with a 15000 Euro fine.
Thomas Lüthi – 5th 2:08.635 min.:
“It's been a positive day for us. This morning was a bit special, with damp patches in only one corner. I've been lucky not to go out on the track with the first riders, because when I arrived at that corner, two or three others had gone down already. There were two riders in front of me that slowed down in time and without them, I could well have gone down also.”
“Other than that, we only struggled with a certain lack of grip, especially in the heat of the afternoon session. This is a problem we have to address. But even though, we were within the front runners all the time which makes me confident!”
Terrell Thien - Teammanager:
“We had a good start in the morning and managed to improve further in the afternoon. But we have to continue working. We lack grip, which is quite normal in such heat. But we still hope to be able to further improve our set-up!"
Daniel M. Epp – PADDOCK Grand Prix Management:
“We had two good session in this first day of practice and we know that, if you are up there at the beginning, you are also likely to stay competitive for the rest of the weekend. During the second session we tried something on the set-up but went in the wrong direction. For tomorrow I am confident that we will be able to improve again!"
1. Stefan Bradl / GER / Kalex / 2:08.464 min.
2. Aleix Espargaro / SPA / Kalex / + 0,022 sec.
3. Dominique Aegerter / SUI / Suter / + 0,086 sec.
5. Thomas Lüthi / SUI / Suter / + 0,145 sec.