After seeing a record attendance figure last year, the 2017 Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix at Sepang International Circuit (SIC) is back for its 18th edition. As the penultimate race in the MotoGP calendar, the Malaysian MotoGP has always seen down-to-the-wire action, and lots of controversy over the years.

After being resurfaced in 2016, the new track surface has been found to be highly abrasive, and with track temperatures today during qualifying hovering around 40-degrees Centrigrade, riders will have their work cut out for them, pushing machines to the limit. A key factor will be tyre wear, and Michelin, the series tyre provider, has come out with compounds to withstand the conditions.

Heading into qualifying at Sepang, the MotoGP class is currently led by Marc Marquez (93) of Repsol Honda Racing, with 269 points. He is followed by Andrea Dovisioso of Ducati with 236 points, and Maverick Vinales of Yamaha with 219 points.

In the Moto2 class, Franco Morbidelli of Italy is leading with 272 points, with his primary competition Thomas Luthi of Switzerland and Miguel Oliveira of Portugal trailing at 243 and 191 points, respectively. In the Moto3 category, Spaniard Joan Mir of Honda is in front with 296 points, while Italian Romano Fenati and Spaniard Aron Canet, both on Hondas, are at 226 points and 184 points.

As for our fellow Malaysians, in the Moto2 class, Khairul Idham Pawi, a.k.a. SuperKIP, is racing for Idemitsu Honda Team Asia and Hafizh Syahrin, a.k.a. Pescao, is seeing out his final season for Petronas Raceline Malaysia. In Moto3, Adam Norrodin is racing for SIC Racing Team, while Kasma Daniel Kasmayuddin has been given a wild card and will carry the Petronas Sprinta Racing banner.

In today’s qualifying, Dani Pedrosa (#26) of Repsol Honda recorded a top time of 1’59.212 with a speed of 322.9 km/h. In second is Johann Zarco of Monster Yamaha Tech 3 with a time of 1’59.229 while Andrea Dovizioso come in third on tomorrow’s grid at 1’59.236 and fan favourite Velentino Rossi is at fourth, clocking 1’59.498.