Tag Archives: Sepang MotoGP

Riders reflect on Sepang MotoGP | Quotes from whole field

2018 Malaysian MotoGP Rider Quotes

Marc Marquez – P1

“It was a hard race, first of all because I was starting from seventh place. I didn’t get a perfect start, and then my first lap was good but not one of the best of my career. Step by step, I overtook some riders and got to second place. I saw that Valentino was pushing and I started to chase him, lapping at qualifying pace! But in the process, I overheated the rear tyre; the front was also warming up quickly and the feeling wasn’t good. So for a few laps, I just tried to cool down and in so doing I began to feel better and better. I saw I was getting closer to Valentino and honestly that gave me extra motivation. At that moment, it was just a matter of instinct and pushing, something that you can do when you’ve already got the Championship. Unfortunately, he made a little mistake in turn one, which is a shame as it would have been nice to see how the duel would have ended. Anyway, when I saw him crash, I just cooled down and focused on finishing the race. We won, and that was the best way to seal the Constructors Championship. I would also like to congratulate Jorge Martin and “Pecco” Bagnaia for taking Championships. We’ll celebrate together in Valencia.”

MotoGP Malaysia Race Marquez
Marc Marquez and Repsol Honda celebrate the win and the constructor’s championship

Alex Rins – P2

“I feel very happy because our race pace was strong and I was able to close the gaps to the other riders and pass them during the race. I still had very good pace even in the last few laps because I was able to manage the tyres well, but I lost time earlier in the race so that made it more difficult. We’re working really hard and we have found important things and learned more for next year. I’m very excited to go to Valencia, especially as we are feeling very strong with the bike now, and Suzuki deserve to end the season on a high.”

MotoGP Malaysia Race Rins
Alex Rins

Johann Zarco – P3

“I’m pretty happy, it was a fantastic race! But also difficult like usually in Malaysia. I was tired at the end, but the energy is coming back already. I think the key for that podium was the beginning of the race. I was thinking about overtaking Valentino (Rossi), but he was fast and it was good to be behind him. I could go away, but did a little mistake, when Marc overtook me. I tried to stay behind Marc, had a little gap, but was able to keep a good pace and then Valentino crashed, so I was second. I thought I can control, but four laps to the end Alex (Rins) was faster than me. Even if I was controlling the race well, when I tried to push a little bit more on the last laps, but I just got three tenths faster, which was not fast enough to keep the gap. He overtook me on the last lap. I tried to fight again, but I didn’t have any rear grip anymore. Anyway, the third place is a good finish.”

MotoGP Malaysia Race Zarco Miller
Johann Zarco

Maverick Vinales – P4

“I already said yesterday that we lost the race in qualifying. This morning I went out in the wet again and I finished first. Everything in MotoGP is so close now, so you have to start at the front. The tyre wear also gets worse when you’re fighting your way up from the back, you destroy the tyres. I was close to the podium, but with four laps to go the tyre dropped a lot and I couldn’t do anything about it. The team worked very well this weekend, they provided me with a really good bike. I think that, if I had started from the front, I would have been fighting for the race. I’m actually really happy that at three different tracks I was in contention to win. I think there are still many things that we can improve on, but things are better compared to before, and now I can be more consistent. I think Valencia will be a good track for us, I really like the track, it’s good for my riding style, so let’s see.”

MotoGP Malaysia Race Vinales
Maverick Vinales

Dani Pedrosa- P5

“Today I focused a lot on the start because I was very far back on the grid. The start itself wasn’t perfect, but then I was able to recover a few places in the first corner. Unfortunately, I lost some ground with Dovi and Marc just a couple of turns later. Anyway, the feeling at the beginning of the race was good enough and I was able to stay there close to the front. On the other hand, toward the end I began struggling with grip again and I was passed by Rins and Viñales. All in all it was a little bit better race than usual. I would like to congratulate Martin for his title. He was able to overcome some difficulties this year, an injury and other issues, and he had a strong race today. He totally deserves this result.” 

MotoGP Malaysia Race Start
2018 Malaysian MotoGP

Andrea Dovizioso – P6

“I have to admit that today I’m disappointed because I wasn’t able to do the race I expected and suffered a lot with a lack of grip. As I said on Thursday, I had hoped for a dry race because we have always gone well in testing and practice in these conditions, but today I really struggled a lot and now we have to understand exactly what happened. In the end, thanks to Rossi’s error, we succeeded in taking home second place overall both in the Riders’ and Constructors’ standings, and I’m happy with this result even though this year we weren’t really able to oppose Marquez. I wish to thank the team because we have managed to do a great job, especially from mid-season onwards, but it’s not enough and we will still have to continue to work with commitment.”

MotoGP Malaysia Race Dovizioso Rins Miller
Andrea Dovizioso

Álvaro Bautista – P7

“I struggled quite a lot with rear grip, I was losing a lot of traction on the exits of the corners and the bike was sliding around and running wide. I was quite limited with what I could do but I gave the maximum I could. We have finished as the second Ducati, four seconds behind Dovizioso on the factory bike, which I think is a good result and it keeps up my recent run of top ten finishes. It has been a good spell for us here in Asia.”

MotoGP Malaysia Race Bautista
Álvaro Bautista

Jack Miller – P8

“We chose to use the medium tyre at the rear to try to do something different than the others. But we didn’t get the results we hoped for. From the beginning, I felt a lot of vibrations that didn’t allow me to have a competitive race pace. Honestly I expected more from this race”.

MotoGP Malaysia Race Miller
Jack Miller

Danilo Petrucci – P9

“I’m not happy with the way things went today. We had a good pace throughout the weekend but today I couldn’t manage the tyres and I struggled since the start. I tried to do my best but the temperature didn’t help. Conditions will be different at Valencia and I hope to get a good result to finish the season”.

MotoGP Malaysia Race Petrucci
Danilo Petrucci

Hafizh Syahrin – P10

“It’s just unbelievable! First of all, I want to say thank you very much to my team, because they always believe in me and give me great motivation. Yesterday has been a disaster for us, but we made up for it. In the starting grid, I saw my father and was just emotional and had to hug him. I want to thank everybody that came here. To arrive in the top 10 for my home GP was my target, but to be honest, I didn’t believe it was possible. But in the end, we did it, which is incredible. I want to thank everybody; I love my family and my fans. I’m so happy!”

MotoGP Malaysia Race Syahrin
Hafizh Syahrin

Aleix Espargaro’ – P11

“This was certainly one of the three most physically demanding races of my entire career. I started very badly and lost a lot of positions on the first turn, so I had to make up ground. After a few passes, a gap formed behind my brother, Pol. I managed to overtake him after a good battle. At that point, I was making up ground on the tenth place rider, but there were only a few laps left. Today’s result is positive, but we want to do more and we know we can, so we need to keep working and preparing our 2019 season as best we can.”

MotoGP Malaysia Race Aleix Espargaro
Aleix Espargaro’

Franco Morbidelli – P12

“I am happy with this result, it was a nice recovery to gain so many positions after starting from 19th on the grid. I am very satisfied with the work the team did this weekend and now I am really looking forward to the final race in Valencia.”

MotoGP Malaysia Race Start
Malaysian MotoGP

Stefan Bradl – P13

“I’m happy, we finished in the points and that was my target. Of course, it was a tough race as I’d not ridden the bike in almost two months and then I arrived here in Malaysia and the conditions were unbelievably hot. Also the weather was inconsistent, so overall I think we did a good job and I’m happy with the team because they helped me a lot. As soon as I started with them this weekend it felt like I was back home, so I have to thank Lucio (Cecchinello) and the guys in the garage who did an incredible job. A big thanks to HRC as well as they built up a test schedule this year which allowed me this opportunity. Also I want to wish Cal (Crutchlow) a speedy recovery, I hope he’s recovering well and can come back as strong as he was before.”

MotoGP Malaysia Race Starts
Malaysian MotoGP

Takaaki Nakagami – P14

“The race was a bit of a struggle. The track temperature was quite good, although the condition wasn’t perfect. We chose a medium tyre for the front and a soft for the rear and I think that was the correct choice for us. But we couldn’t find the same kind of performance as in FP3 when we had a strong pace, around 2’01 laps. I wasn’t able to do that in the race and for me it was difficult to find the rear grip. The team did a great job all weekend and hopefully we can get our best result of the season in the last race in Valencia.”

MotoGP Malaysia Race Nakagami
Takaaki Nakagami

Bradley Smith – P15

“We were lacking performance all race with some technical issues which meant I couldn’t set my normal lap-times. I could still finish the race and took a point, which was a positive and there are just five points between Pol and me going into the last race. Five points is difficult to gain but it is still fun to be going into that situation. We worked well all weekend and the guys clearly know what they need to do and what they need to fix. I’m quite excited about Valencia. It will be my last Grand Prix and it is a track I enjoy. We’ll go there optimistic and keen to finish this chapter with KTM in a positive way.”

MotoGP Malaysia Race KTM Smith
Bradley Smith

Tom Luthi – P16

“It was a hot race and I was struggling a little for the first two laps with rear edge grip and I nearly went down at the final corner. But then I found a good pace and felt good on the bike but later I struggled again with rear grip and I lost time which cost me a chance of some points. I was very close and so a pity that again I am in sixteenth place.”

MotoGP Malaysia Race Rossi Rins
2018 Malaysian MotoGP

Xavier Simeon – P17

“I knew that it would be a difficult race in dry conditions. Even though my start was better than in Australia, it still wasn’t good and I lost all the advantage I had with my starting position. But all in all, I am still satisfied with the outcome of the race, because I hadn’t felt comfortable in dry conditions before and in the race, my pace has been quite consistent and similar to the riders that finished close to the Top 10. Considering this, I am a little frustrated, because I did most of the things right to achieve another place within the point rankings, but I still struggle to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. In MotoGP, everything needs to be perfect and little details can make all the difference. Apart from that, the team has done a great job once again and I reduced the gap to the front runners a lot. In fact, I didn’t expect to be that close. Now we have to wait and see what will happen at Valencia. I hope Tito can ride again and for myself, I hope to enjoy my last race in MotoGP with the team.”

MotoGP Malaysia Race Simeon
Xavier Simeon

Valentino Rossi – P18

“It was a great shame because this was my best race of the season. I felt comfortable, I had a good pace, I pushed, and I had the chance to win, but unfortunately with four or five laps to go I fell – I don’t understand what happened. I made a mistake, because I crashed. It’s such a pity, but it still remains a good weekend, because we improved the setting of the bike. I think we have to do some more work, but it looks like we were able to use the bike in a better way in the last few races. This is good, but we have to see if we’re also strong in Valencia. It’s a difficult track for us in general, but we have to try.”

MotoGP Malaysia Race Starts
Valentino Rossi

Scott Redding – P19

“Unfortunately, my race today ended after six laps. We had problems with grip throughout the weekend and as soon as the tyres began to wear a bit, it was impossible for me to push. Riding very aggressively, the improvement in times was minimum, so I was forced to set my sights on just finishing the race.”

MotoGP Malaysia Race Start
2018 Malaysian MotoGP

Michele Pirro – DNF

“The fact that I only did one session on a dry track, with the race today being dry, for sure put me at a bit of a disadvantage. I started quite well and bit by bit was making up places when I lost the front at the last corner, probably because I pushed a bit too hard, and I crashed. I didn’t expect that to happen because I was trying to do a consistent race. I’m sorry for the team, and it’s a pity to finish the race in this way, because I could have got into the top 10 and instead I wasn’t able to bring home any points for the team.”

MotoGP Malaysia Race Pirro
Michele Pirro

Andrea Iannone – DNF

“I’m a bit disappointed because we had the chance to take another podium, but I don’t want to focus on what happened today. I always try to think positively, and the good things are that I had strong pace and I had a really good feeling with the bike after the team and I worked hard together. So I’ll just remain focused on the last race of the season and I will give my all to have a good result there.”

MotoGP Malaysia Race Iannone
Andrea Iannone

Pol Espargaro – DNF

“I was losing power while I was eleventh and we don’t know at the moment what the problem was, the guys are checking. It has been a tough couple of weeks: we didn’t have a good feeling in Japan and in Australia we were fast but the tyre blew and now we’ve had this issue. It has a been a tough end to the season but we’ll go to Valencia looking to finish things in a good way before we already think about 2019.”

MotoGP Malaysia Race KTM Espargaro Brothers
Pol Espargaro

Karel Abraham – DNF

“It is incredible how much bad luck we have had this weekend. We had a technical problem on the first day, I had a crash as soon as it started raining yesterday and that left me in pain for today, when we had an electronic problem that shut the bike down and wouldn’t restart. I was feeling better this morning and I was close to the top ten in warm-up. I didn’t get a great start in the race but I had passed a couple of riders and was closing on Nakagami, who ended up fourteenth, when the bike stopped. We will work out the problem but I am disappointed because I think we could have repeated the performance from Japan and picked up some points, but unfortunately we go home with nothing.”

MotoGP Malaysia Race Abraham
Karel Abraham

Team Managers

Herve Poncharal – Tech3 Yamaha Team Manager

“What an unbelievable day today here in Sepang Malaysia. I think the race direction took the right decision to move everything forward two hours. We had great sunshine, a beautiful race and regarding Monster Yamaha Tech3, I’m very proud. For Johann, after getting that great pole position last night, he got a great start, put his head down, followed Valentino (Rossi) for quite a few laps, then Marc (Marquez) came into that group and this trio has been almost leading the race for two thirds, then Johann dropped a little bit, but he was always in contention for that so dearly awaited podium, where we haven’t been since Jerez. I feel very sorry for Valentino, but he crashed, although I think he was doing a great race. At that moment we thought, the podium is almost in the bag and second position was quite easy and then we saw Rins coming from nowhere, doing incredible lap times. Congratulations to him. He passed us, but we are anyway very happy with the podium, a really strong weekend. It was a tough day today with the heat, with managing the body for the riders and also the tyres, so this is great. We are now leading the independent riders’ championship, which is the main target for us now – in fifth, joint with Alex Rins, so Valencia is going to be something to challenge for us. But of course, this is only one part of the garage. On the other side, I was feeling very sorry last night after Qualifying for Hafizh, because I know how important this Malaysian Grand Prix was for him. I know the effort he put in to reach MotoGP and finally for his first home GP he was so disappointed, so sad. I tried to cheer him up this morning, I tried to cheer him up on the grid and – I don’t know if there is a link in between what I told him and what he did, but the start was unreal. Maybe one of the best starts I’ve ever seen, at least this season and from that moment he was fighting with Miller, Petrucci and even Viñales at some stage. He finished the race in 10thposition, which is a dream for us and for him and I’m so happy, because Hafizh is not only an incredible team player, but he is a charming young man and he is the best ambassador Malaysia could have in MotoGP. I could feel how disappointed he was to see all the people coming to support him and him not delivering. Finally he did deliver and this is the cherry on the cake. We are going to fly back home after five weeks on the road, but we go home happy, positive in mind and ready to challenge what we have to do in Valencia.”

MotoGP Malaysia Race Zarco
Johann Zarco

Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Team Director

“For sure this is not the ending we had hoped for this weekend. The final results don‘t do justice to the pace of our riders, because they both had really strong form this weekend. Maverick had to start from the fourth row and make up a lot of ground. If he had started a bit more towards the front, he would have been a top contender today, because his pace matched Vale‘s. Valentino did exactly what he needed to do at the start. He was leading the race perfectly, so it‘s a great shame it ended the way it did. Nevertheless, we can take some positives from these last three races, as we made a step with the bike and were consistent in our performance. Today we were competitive at a circuit that doesn‘t necessarily play to our bike‘s strengths. So, with that in mind, we head to Valencia eager to fight at the front again during the season finale.”

MotoGP Malaysia Race Rossi
Valentino Rossi

Ken Kawauchi – Suzuki Technical Manager

“Finally everything was OK and we did a good job. Today is a bitter sweet feeling because both riders had great pace but sadly Andrea couldn’t finish the race – I’m sure he would’ve also fought for the podium. But Alex managed to achieve 2nd and we’re so happy because it’s our third consecutive podium and we’ve had two second places in a row. I really want to thank everyone involved in this project, this season has been so positive. In the final race we hope to achieve that one thing we’ve been missing…”

MotoGP Malaysia Rins Suzuki
Alex Rins and Team Suzuki celebrate

Davide Brivio – Suzuki Team Manager

“Of course we’re very happy! We took another podium, our eighth of the season! It’s great that our riders have had four podiums each, it’s good news for us and for all of Suzuki. I want to congratulate Alex for keeping his head down and fighting until the end to take 2nd position, it was excellent. I’m very sorry for Andrea because he could’ve been fighting for the podium too but he incurred in a very unlucky crash. I would like to say a big thank you to all the Team staff that are working very hard on improving our level and of course to all the Japanese guys back in the factory. We are living a positive moment and now we look forward to the last race of the year!”

MotoGP Malaysia Race Suzuki Rins
Alex Rins and Team Suzuki celebrate

Mike Leitner – KTM Team Manager

“Disappointing today. Pol had good pace in the middle of the race and was going for tenth place but then we had a technical problem and we are still looking into the cause. Bradley got one point and while we cannot be happy with that we know that he gave his best. We’ll keep our motivation up for Valencia and look towards our next chapter in 2019. I think moments like these and the difficult first seasons are part of the learning process; it is a challenge, and we chose to be here. In Moto2 and Moto3 we were fighting until the end for the titles but it didn’t happen and we’ll look at things this winter and see what we can do better for next year.”

MotoGP Malaysia Race KTM Espargaro Smith
Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith

Piero Taramasso – Michelin

“This has been another Grand Prix where we have seen the tyres tested to extremes. The weekend began with lower temperatures than expected for Sepang on Friday – although still quite high – and the tyres performed really well and some very fast lap-times were set. This continued on Saturday morning and it looked like we were in a position to break the outright record in qualifying, but then it rained very heavily. This meant the MICHELIN Power Rain tyres were used in anger for one of the few times this year and again they gave excellent results in the difficult conditions. The times were quick and the grip was really good and it produced an exciting qualifying. Today then saw temperatures rise to more than we had seen all weekend and with the information the teams had and with the assistance from their respective technicians, the best tyres were chosen. This produced a fast race which saw us break the duration record, this is one of the most important time benchmarks for us, as it shows the durability and consistency over race distance. There were also three different manufacturers on the podium, which is again a very important marker for Michelin, as it shows performance for all types of bikes. This has been a long trip, but we have had some very good results, learned a lot about the overall performance of the slick and wet tyres and the different compounds in many changeable conditions. We now head back to Europe for the final round and then get ready to start testing for 2019.”

2018 MotoGP Sepang Results
Pos Rider Team Laps
1. Marquez M. Repsol Honda 40:32.372
2. Rins A. Team Suzuki Ecstar +1.898
3. Zarco J. Monster Tech 3 +2.474
4. Vinales M. Movistar Yamaha +4.667
5. Pedrosa D. Repsol Honda +6.190
6. Dovizioso A. Ducati Team +11.248
7. Bautista A. Angel Nieto Team +15.611
8. Miller J. Alma Pramac Racing +19.009
9. Petrucci D. Alma Pramac Racing +22.921
10. Syahrin H. Monster Tech 3 +26.919
11. Espargaro A. Aprilia Racing Team Gresini +29.503
12. Morbidelli F. Marc VDS Racing Team +30.933
13. Bradl S. LCR Honda +35.322
14. Nakagami T. LCR Honda +37.912
15. Smith B. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +39.675
16. Luthi T. Marc VDS Racing Team +41.820
17. Simeon X. Reale Avintia Racing +43.978
18. Rossi V. Movistar Yamaha +58.288
19. Redding S. Aprilia Racing Team Gresini +1:00.191
DNF Espargaro P. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Retired
DNF Pirro M. Ducati Team Accident
DNF Abraham K. Angel Nieto Team Retired
DNF Iannone A. Team Suzuki Ecstar Accident
2018 MotoGP Sepang Standings
Pos Rider Team Points
1. Marquez Marc Repsol Honda Team 321
2. Dovizioso Andrea Ducati Team 220
3. Rossi Valentino Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 195
4. Vinales Maverick Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 193
5. Rins Alex Team Suzuki Ecstar 149
6. Zarco Johann Monster Yamaha Tech 3 149
7. Crutchlow Cal LCR Honda 148
8. Petrucci Danilo Alma Pramac Racing 144
9. Iannone Andrea Team Suzuki Ecstar 133
10. Lorenzo Jorge Ducati Team 130
11. Pedrosa Dani Repsol Honda Team 106
12. Bautista Alvaro Angel Nieto Team 105
13. Miller Jack Alma Pramac Racing 91
14. Morbidelli Franco Marc VDS Racing Team 50
15. Espargaro Aleix Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 44
16. Syahrin Hafizh Monster Yamaha Tech 3 40
17. Rabat Tito Reale Avintia Racing 35
18. Espargaro Pol Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 35
19. Smith Bradley Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 30
20. Nakagami Takaaki LCR Honda 23
21. Redding Scott Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 15
22. Abraham Karel Angel Nieto Team 10
23. Kallio Mika Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 6
24. Bradl Stefan Honda Racing Corporation 3
25. Nakasuga Katsuyuki Yamaha Factory Team 2
26. Simeon Xavier Reale Avintia Racing 1
27. Pirro Michele Ducati Team 1
28. Luthi Thomas Marc VDS Racing Team 0
29. Torres Jordi MV Agusta Reparto Corse 0
30. Jones Mike Reale Avintia Racing 0
31. Guintoli Sylvain Pata Yamaha Official WSBK Team 0
32. Ponsson Christophe Ponsson C. 0
MotoGP Team Standings
Pos Team Points
1. Repsol Honda Team 427
2. Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 388
3. Ducati Team 363
4. Suzuki MotoGP 282
5. Alma Pramac Racing 235
6. Monster Yamaha Tech 3 189
7. LCR Honda 174
8. Angel Nieto Team 102
9. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 65
10. Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 59
11. Estrella Galicia 0,0 50
12. Reale Avintia Racing 36

Source: MCNews.com.au

MotoGP hits Sepang for penultimate contest of season 2018

Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia

MotoGP heads to Malaysia this weekend as the final leg of the three-week fly-away tour concludes with a visit to the Sepang International Circuit, before returning to Europe for the season finale at Valencia.

MotoGP Preview gp malaysia
Sepang International Circuit – MotoGP 2018

The melting pot of Malaysian culture is perfectly reflected in the layout of the 5,543m circuit, a track where extremely high-temperatures can heat the surface to highs above 50°C, while the abrasive asphalt can quickly be soaked by heavy downpours.

All of this is mixed with a technical layout over the five left and ten right corners, interlinked by two long straights. This provides alternating challenges to riders, bikes, and especially tyres, so much so that Sepang has become a regular test venue and one that is synonymous with preparing a MotoGP bike and all of its components for the season ahead, during the winter tests.

MotoGP Preview gp malaysia
Sepang International Circuit – MotoGP 2018

Viñales looked unstoppable in Australia and was back on the top step for the first time since Le Mans in 2017, boosting his confidence and adding a spring to his step on the way to Malaysia so he’ll be one to watch for sure.

Maverick Viñales

“After the victory in Australia, sincerely, I’m very happy. The team has worked very hard to overcome the crisis that we were going through. I’m feeling comfortable and I’ve regained my confidence. But we have to think about the next race in Sepang. We are highly motivated. It’s a circuit with very different climate conditions to those we’ve had in Phillip Island and in Japan – it’s always really hot and that makes it a very physically demanding race. I thought we made an important step in Phillip Island and actually I felt really good on my M1. We are on the right path and if we continue like this, hopefully we can finish the season with more victories.”

MotoGP Phillip Island Vinales GP AN
Maverick Vinales in Australia – Image by AJRN

For teammate Valentino Rossi it wasn’t quite the same weekend, however, as the ‘Doctor’ fought for second before then getting relegated to sixth by the flag.

Valentino Rossi

“Unfortunately in Australia I lost important points for the championship and I’m very disappointed about that, but I’m happy for Maverick and for Yamaha. Now we have to concentrate on the third and last race overseas at Sepang and it will be important to have a good weekend. We must continue to work hard because we have to be competitive at every race. Sepang is not one of our favourite tracks, but we will always try our hardest to get the best results possible.”

MotoGP Phillip Island Vinales GP AN
Maverick Vinales – Image by AJRN

Viñales has reversed the trend of late and that means the two are now separated by only 15 points in the Championship – will he continue to turn the screw? Or will the vastly different venue turn the tables once again?

Valentino Rossi - Sepang 2017
Valentino Rossi – Sepang 2017

15 points is now also the gap between Rossi and second overall Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) – so it’s all in play behind newly-crowned Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team).

Ducati took a 1-2 at the venue last year, too – and Dovizioso won that and the 2016 race. Will the Italian be able to do the hattrick and win in 2018 too? He said Phillip Island was important to see how they’d improved this season, given it had always been a more difficult venue – and he took third, and fought for second. That’s a big leap forward so back on ground with a stunning track record, can anyone bet against ‘DesmoDovi’?

Andrea Dovizioso

“Our main aim now is to try and win in Malaysia and for sure we can be competitive at Sepang, even though things are different than last year for many reasons. The fight for second place in the championship is now becoming interesting, because Rossi is still not far behind me, even though in Australia I gained a few points on him, so we must remain focussed because this is a track where he has always gone well.”

Andrea Dovizioso - Image by AJRN
Andrea Dovizioso topped the podium at Sepang in 2017 – Image by AJRN

His teammate last time out, Alvaro Bautista, also had great pace at the Island on the GP18 so it wasn’t a one-pony trick for the Borgo Panigale factory. But he now returns to the Angel Nieto Team as, in turn, Jorge Lorenzo returns from injury.

Keyhole surgery undertaken and on the mend, the five-time World Champion should be fit to race – so what can he do? Second last year was a good showing but even more pivotal was Lorenzo’s form in testing earlier in the season: he was at his poetry-in-motion best to put in the fastest ever lap of Sepang International Circuit.

Jorge Lorenzo

“Only eight days have passed since I had an operation on the ligament of my left wrist, but I’m feeling a bit better. For sure the operation was quite recent and so we’ll have to wait until I get on the bike to see how the wrist responds and if I still have a lot of pain when I ride. On Thursday I’ll go to the circuit medical staff for a check-up on my condition and I hope to be able to race even though I won’t be at 100%. I haven’t been able to train for the past few days and the Sepang circuit is very challenging, so this is not exactly an ideal scenario to return to the track.”

MotoGP Rnd Thailand Lorenzo GP AN
Malaysia will see Jorge Lorenzo make his return from injury

Not so fast, however – at least on paper. The fastest official lap, from a race weekend, remains Dani Pedrosa’s 2015 1:59.053 and the ‘Little Samurai’ has some serious form at Sepang: five poles and three premier class wins. Higher temperatures raise expectations too, so what can Pedrosa do coming back from a DNF?

Dani Pedrosa

“The Malaysian Grand Prix is a demanding venue due to both the extreme weather conditions and the track itself, which isn’t an easy one, being wide and requiring precise lines and a good setup. That said, I like it very much, so I hope we can do good work and find a setting that allows me to feel good on the bike and to try to have a good weekend.”

Dani Pedrosa could also be a look in with a strong record at Sepang with his fastest race lap record
Dani Pedrosa could also be a look in with a strong record at Sepang with his fastest race lap record

His teammate Marquez, meanwhile, also ended up with a 0 in Australia. Hit from behind by Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and sustaining too much damage, he agreed it was a racing incident but both didn’t manage to finish – leaving a few usual suspects out of the mix at the front. Marquez has only one win at Sepang in the premier class, taken in 2014, but he’s been showing similar signs to that season’s domination a few times in 2018 – and the title is already done. Will he be straight back on top?

MotoGP Australia Marquez Damage
#AusMotoGP – Damage to Marquez Honda

Marc Marquez

“We had quite an eventful race in Australia and it was a pity we couldn’t fight until the end, but that’s gone now and we look forward to the next round in Malaysia with our usual spirit and positive mentality. We still have our target of two more titles to achieve, and we also want to try and win again if we have the chance to do so. Malaysia is a demanding round from a physical point of view but that’s something we’re prepared to deal with, so we’ll keep our concentration high and try to start strong beginning on Friday morning.”

MotoGP Phillip Island Marquez GP AN
Marc Marquez – AJRN Image

Andrea Iannone is fresh from his second place only a few days ago in Phillip Island and he will be taking this momentum as a further push to try and end the season in the best possible way. He feels that the competitiveness of his GSX-RR and his riding is very close to that of the best contenders, thus giving him high hopes for a positive race in Sepang, despite the hot and humid weather expected there.

Andrea Iannone

“Last year’s Malaysian GP was a strange race because it was wet, but we showed good performance when the conditions were dry. We arrive after a positive weekend and good moments, I hope we can continue to be as competitive as we expect. Overall Sepang is never to be considered an easy one because it’s always very hot, so we struggle both with the physical condition and the tyre management and choice. We will need to manage everything in the best possible way. The last race in Australia of course gave us positive confidence and I also trust in the work they are doing in Japan, we have the important awareness that we are now very close to the best contenders.”

MotoGP Australia Iannone Dovi Bautista Rins Rossi Miller

Alex Rins got a result below his expectations in Australia, but he could take important lessons from his solid 5th place. His performance in Japan was good, taking third place in the race, thus his confidence with the bike is getting better and better and he now has a well deserved place among the fastest riders.

Alex Rins

“In Malaysia I will try to do my best, as always. We will try the maximum and hope to keep the momentum we’ve had in the recent races where we’ve always been in the Top 5. It is true that after the Motegi podium I expected a bit more in Australia, but the race was like that and we have to take the positive points. Sepang is a good track for us, a track we know really well because we usually test there in the pre-season, so we will work hard again to stay in the front positions. Suzuki is working very well in those matters, we need to improve a little more but we are feeling very positive for the coming races.”

MotoGP Australia QP Vinales Rossi Rins Dovi
Alex Rins chasing Valentino Rossi and Maverick Vinales

Monster Yamaha Tech3 duo Johann Zarco and Hafizh Syahrin can’t wait to arrive in Malaysia for the second last round of the 2018 MotoGP World Championship, with Zarco’s Australian GP ending with a high speed crash that also took Marquez out of the running, leaving him tied with Andrea Iannone on 133 championship points and ranked seventh, with Lorenzo three points behind, and Danilo Petrucci just four points ahead, ensuring the last two rounds will be interesting ones.

Johann Zarco

“The Sepang International Circuit is a track I like and one, I can be fast on. I hope my Yamaha will give me a good feeling again. It’s going to be like in Thailand with very hot temperatures and difficult conditions to race, but I feel fit for this round, even after the crash in Australia. Therefore, I look forward to have a good race and catch as many points as possible to be the first independent rider.”

MotoGP Phillip Island Zarco GP AN
Johann Zarco

Syahrin will be on home ground meanwhile and sure to be the crowd favourite, with Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team Manager Hervé Poncharal explaining that there’ll be plenty going on for the local.

Hervé Poncharal

“The next round only in a few days’ time is going to be Malaysia – a very important race for the Championship, great event, great circuit, where we do a lot of testing during the winter, where we have a lot of data and where MotoGP is big like it was big in Thailand. This year it will be even bigger, especially for us, because we have the home hero, the MotoGP star in Malaysia, which is Hafizh Syahrin. He will arrive there as a rock star. There are quite a few things organized around him by the media for the marketing of the Malaysian Grand Prix, so we will be very busy there, helping everyone. In terms of results, this has always been a circuit where we have had interesting races. Hafizh should be fast, we hope, although he has never rode a MotoGP bike on that circuit, but it’s his home country, which is always a very special boost. Especially after the nightmare day we experienced in Australia on Sunday, we can’t wait to be on track for FP1 just to forget about this and to be focussed on Malaysia. I hope there will be many, many fans for Monster Yamaha Tech3 with Johann and of course the local boy Hafizh. See you all there!”

MotoGP Phillip Island Syahrin GP AN
Hafizh Syahrin

Hafizh Syahrin currently sits ranked 18th in the championship with 34 points to his name, and it remains to be seen whether he’ll be able to convert the home ground advantage into results, but he’ll have the crowd’s support nevertheless. Heading into his first home Grand Prix in the premier class, the Malaysian crashed out in Australia but took a top ten in Japan and is on form in terms of pace.

Hafizh Syahrin

“I’m looking forward to arrive in Sepang after the good sensations we got in Phillip Island. Although the result was not great in the end, two thirds of the race were fantastic and I learned from the top riders in front of me, plus I was able to stay close to them. Unfortunately, we lost the front in turn four and also in the straight we were missing some power from the engine. I just can’t wait for my home race, which gives me some extra motivation. We keep working hard and believing in ourselves. For sure, we’ll try to do our best there.”

MotoGP Motegi Syahrin GP AN
Hafizh Syahrin

Aleix Espargaró arrives in Malaysia on the back of a good race at Phillip Island, finishing ninth after a comeback ride with a convincing pace. The Spanish rider, who has apparently suffered no injury after taking a blow to the hand on Sunday, will continue working on an evolution of the RS-GP in Malaysia.

Aleix Espargaró

“In Malaysia it will be important to test the new advanced bike. Phillip Island is a particular track and we raced there in decidedly difficult conditions, so I want to put the new solutions to the test on a different circuit. My hand shouldn’t give me any problems. The pain has gone down and I don’t think it will condition me for the next race.”

MotoGP Phillip Island Espargaro Aleix GP AN
Aleix Espargaró – AJRN Image

Getting back into the points will be extra motivation for Scott Redding who has been steadily improving his feeling over the last few races.

Scott Redding

“At Sepang I’ll be expecting a physically demanding race, in some ways similar to Thailand. We’ll need to work on grip and tyre life. I want to take on my last to MotoGP races with peace of mind, trying to have fun and achieve the best possible result.”

MotoGP Phillip Island Redding GP AN
Scott Redding – AJRN Image

The Ángel Nieto Team head to Malaysia with two riders bang in form after best results of the season in Australia for both Álvaro Bautista and Karel Abraham.

MotoGP Phillip Island Bautista GP AN
Alvaro Bautista – AJRN Image

The Spaniard took fourth at Phillip Island, riding the factory Ducati GP18 in place of Jorge Lorenzo, and he is looking to fight at the front again at Sepang to round off a strong run of flyaway races.

Álvaro Bautista

“We go to Malaysia in even higher spirits if that were possible because this trip is turning out to be really positive. We are on an upward curve, constantly improving. Sepang is one of my favourite tracks, it has a bit of everything and the objective as always will be to have some good practice sessions, work well with the bike and look for a place in Q2. We have seen that if we can start with the front guys we can run with them, so qualifying is very important. Then we can aim for a top ten, which is what we can achieve with the material we have.”

MotoGP Phillip Island Bautista GP AN
Álvaro Bautista – AJRN Image

His teammate Karel Abraham took eleventh place at Phillip Island to double his points tally for the season. This weekend the Czech rider shifts back to his Ducati GP16, the race-winning bike at Sepang in 2016, and he is hoping it can power him to another points finish.

Karel Abraham

“I am going to Malaysia looking forward to racing again and fighting for more points, even though I don’t like the weather conditions there. At Sepang I won’t be riding the Ducati GP17, which I had my best result of the season on in Australia, but I will be back on my usual bike to give my best as always.”

MotoGP Australia Karel Abraham
Karel Abraham

The heat is on at Sepang and another piece of the puzzle will be played out at 300 km/h around the fast and challenging circuit – so who can tame the Malaysian masterpiece? Find out on Sunday 4th November.

MotoGP Championship Standings

2018 MotoGP Championship Standings
Pos Rider Team Points
1. Marquez Marc Repsol Honda Team 296
2. Dovizioso Andrea Ducati Team 210
3. Rossi Valentino Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 195
4. Vinales Maverick Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 180
5. Crutchlow Cal LCR Honda 148
6. Petrucci Danilo Alma Pramac Racing 137
7. Zarco Johann Monster Yamaha Tech 3 133
8. Iannone Andrea Team Suzuki Ecstar 133
9. Lorenzo Jorge Ducati Team 130
10. Rins Alex Team Suzuki Ecstar 129
11. Bautista Alvaro Angel Nieto Team 96
12. Pedrosa Dani Repsol Honda Team 95
13. Miller Jack Alma Pramac Racing 83
14. Morbidelli Franco Marc VDS Racing Team 46
15. Espargaro Aleix Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 39
16. Rabat Tito Reale Avintia Racing 35
17. Espargaro Pol Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 35
18. Syahrin Hafizh Monster Yamaha Tech 3 34
19. Smith Bradley Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 29
20. Nakagami Takaaki LCR Honda 21
21. Redding Scott Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 15
22. Abraham Karel Angel Nieto Team 10
23. Kallio Mika Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 6
24. Nakasuga Katsuyuki Yamaha Factory Team 2
25. Simeon Xavier Reale Avintia Racing 1
26. Pirro Michele Ducati Team 1
27. Luthi Thomas Marc VDS Racing Team 0
28. Bradl Stefan Honda Racing Corporation 0
29. Torres Jordi MV Agusta Reparto Corse 0
30. Jones Mike Reale Avintia Racing 0
31. Guintoli Sylvain Pata Yamaha Official WSBK Team 0
32. Ponsson Christophe Ponsson C. 0

Source: MCNews.com.au