It is no joke racing in the heat at Malaysian Grand Prix

Drink up: Movistar Yamaha rider Maverick Viales getting hydrated during the practice session yesterday. — AP

Drink up: Movistar Yamaha rider Maverick Viales getting hydrated during the practice session yesterday. — AP

A MotoGP rider loses weight somewhere between 1.5kg to 2.5kg in each race, so it’s no joke racing in the heat at the Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix at the Sepang International Circuit.

The hot, long and tricky Sepang is far more challenging from the cool breeze of Valencia, Silverstone and Phillip Island.

In drier conditions, a rider can get cramps or find it harder to concentrate.

The unpredictable weather conditions often throw up a very different race outcome and expect unpredictable results in Sepang.

Malaysian Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah is more or less used to the weather but believes it is still a huge physical test for everyone.

“The humidity level is a big challenge. You will sweat walking around in a t-shirt, so imagine how it is riding a bike in a full set of leathers, helmet and gloves,” said Hafizh, the nation and South-East Asia’s first premier class rider.

“The European riders prepare for Sepang by training during the hottest hours of the day and also have more sauna sessions.

“But I think the riders are already prepared for these kinds of weather conditions.

“Riders in the world championship, especially in MotoGP, are really very fit as we work a lot physically during the off-season,” said Hafizh.

Dehydration is also a constant worry and the riders take a lot of fluid throughout the race.

In fact, there is a pouch at the back of the jumpsuit where the riders carry energy drinks because they lose sweat and weight – especially during the 20-lap race at Sepang.

The G-force (gravitational force) is also present and these elements make them feel very uneasy and tired.

“We take lots of energy drinks before and after the race,” said Hafizh.

He added that a rider also has to learn to preserve their brakes and tyres.

“There is less grip and tyre temperature goes up quickly during a race.

“Tyres slip more and overheat, so the gripping power is less and which is why you see us sometimes losing control of our front-end,” added Hafizh, who vowed to battle the external factors in the race today.