Dani Pedrosa wins in Sepang as championship fight takes an incredible twist
Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa rode a brilliant race at the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix to take his 51st GP victory in front of 88,000 fans, with Jorge Lorenzo finishing ahead of his title rival Rossi to reduce the Doctor’s lead in the standings to just 7 points with one race left. Pedrosa led from flag to flag to win by 3.612s in hot and humid conditions (track temp. 47˚C) at the Sepang International Circuit, but his victory was overshadowed by an incredible clash between Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez that saw the latter crash out. Race Direction reviewed the incident after the race and awarded Rossi three penalty points and he will be forced to start the final race of the season from the back of the grid due to the accumulation of a total of 4 points (1 from Misano and one from this event).
Pole man Pedrosa enjoyed a brilliant start and led into turn 1 from his teammate Marquez and Rossi. Lorenzo, who was starting from 4th, dropped back to sixth in the first corner but recovered to put an incredible double pass on the Ducati Team GP15’s of Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone. He then set his sights on the man he trailed by 11 points in the standings before the race began, catching Rossi and making a move at the start of the second lap into turn 1.
On lap 3 Marquez ran wide at turn 15 allowing Lorenzo into second, and suddenly Marquez had fallen into the grasp of Rossi in 4th. The atmosphere in the sold out grandstands became electric as Rossi was up against the man he had accused of trying to help Lorenzo win the title.
While Pedrosa and Lorenzo focused on opening up a gap on their teammates at the front, Rossi and Marquez became embroiled in one of the battles of the season. The two riders overtook each other it seemed, at almost every corner allowing the two men at the front to disappear off into the distance. While Pedrosa was managing the gap at the front beautifully, Lorenzo had opened up a lead of 2.7s over Marquez in third by lap seven.
Then came one of the most sensational moments of the year, as Rossi once again passed Marquez for third at turn 10 on lap seven. Marquez immediately fought back through turns 11 & 12 with Rossi then responding through turn 13 before appearing to run Marquez wide on the exit of turn 14 and making contact with the Spaniard. Marquez crashed out as a result and was forced to retire in an incident that left the reigning MotoGP champion fuming and one which was reviewed by Race Direction. The incident could have huge implications on deciding where the 2015 title ends up with Rossi forced to start from the back of the grid at the series finale in Valencia. It will go down in history as one of the most sensational pieces of drama in the history of MotoGP and will forever be remembered. Read ours, and others, thoughts on the clash here.
While all of this was going on Lorenzo in second had managed to open up a 5.6s gap to Rossi, something that try as he might, Rossi could not make an impact on. After all of the early drama, the rest of the race seemed almost an anti-climax.
At the front Pedrosa had managed his tyres and pace perfectly, extending his advantage on almost every lap. He went on to take his second win of the season by over three and half seconds from Lorenzo, who made it four podiums in a row and 11 for the season by finishing in second. Rossi crossed the line in 3rd a further 10 seconds behind Lorenzo, but will have an incredible fight on his hands to lift his tenth title at Valencia after the penalty. Rossi also decided not to attend the post-race Press Conference.
Dani Pedrosa – P1 – “I am very happy because it was a very nice Grand Prix! We had a good feeling from Friday, we were able to manage the weekend well and above all we had a bike that worked very well during every practice. The setup we used at this circuit in February during testing helped me a lot and I’m very happy to take this win for my team, who have been behind me all the way. I am especially pleased to finish the season very positively, as it has been a hard year but we are now recovering well and we’re in good form. Australia is always the hardest race of the year for me, but that turned out fine and I’m really glad we completed the fly aways like this.”
Jorge Lorenzo – P2 – “It was a very hard race. I gave the maximum to keep Dani‘s rear wheel as close as possible, but to be honest his pace had been unbelievable. He was so quick and consistent and picked up the bike in a perfect way, so it was very difficult to overtake him on braking. I could only finish in second place, which is important because we recovered points. When I saw the battle between Marc and Valentino I was really surprised because the action was huge and I have to respect race direction‘s decision.”
Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Bradley Smith pulled off a superb result, crossing the line in fourth after he started from 9th on the grid. He had enjoyed a great battle with his compatriot Cal Crutchlow on the LCR Honda for the honours of leading Satellite rider. Smith eventually got the better of the Honda when Cal ran wide at turn 15 with 9 laps to go, with Smith eventually crossing the line almost 5 seconds ahead of Crutchlow in fourth. Crutchlow’s fifth was his best result since his fourth placed finish at the Catalan GP, and means he has finished seventh or higher in the last four races.
Cal Crutchlow – P5 – “It was a bit of a strange race today. I had a problem with the brake lever after about eight laps and I managed the tyres as best as possible, but obviously I did not have great feeling with the brakes because of this problem. But to finish these three flyaway races with fifth is a good result, although perhaps we should have been in fourth place today, riding our own race not too far behind Valentino (Rossi). But it wasn’t to be and now we have to go to Valencia and try to keep improving once again. Also I would like to say sorry to Dovi (Andrea Dovizioso) as I knocked him off – he is the last rider on the track I would want to knock off as he is the cleanest rider. I apologized to him and he took it very well.”
Andrea Dovizioso – DNF – “Today the conditions were very difficult, because it was really hot and it was not possible to push as hard as we did in practice. I was trying to manage the situation in order to get to the flag in a good condition. Crutchlow tried to pass me in the change of direction between Turns 5 and 6 but he was not able to control his bike and made me lose the front. I know Cal well and I’m sure he didn’t do it deliberately, but he caused me a lot of damage and in the championship we lost too many points from Smith. It was a real pity, because even with these extreme conditions we could have taken home a good result.”
Octo Pramac Racing’s Danilo Petrucci pulled off his best MotoGP result in the dry as he finished in sixth. Aleix Espargaro won the battle of the Suzuki’s as he beat his rookie teammate Maverick Viñales to seventh by just over a tenth of a second. It was Espargaro’s 11th top ten finish of the season, while Viñales followed up his career best result of sixth at Phillip Island with seventh.
Aleix Espargaro – P7 – “It’s good that we got some points but at the end of the day, I’m not so happy for the race, it is true that this circuit was not easy for us but I have the feeling I could have gained a better result after the progress we have made so far. Of course the qualifying penalised us, starting from behind is never easy and I couldn’t overtake in the early laps. With a full tank and jammed in the middle group I couldn’t find the best performance nor take my preferred lines, so I struggled to find a consistent pace. It’s a pity; I could have had a better race-pace and fight for a better position. Now we go to Valencia, the track is tight and maybe more favourable for us, so I hope we’ll get a better feeling and find a better result.”
Maverick Viñales – P8 – “The start was the key of today’s race. Unfortunately I couldn’t do so well as when the lights went out, suddenly many riders overtook me. I lost many positions and when this happens it is always very hard to recover. Then I found a good pace, even if I still suffered with rear grip. I’m disappointed with the result, we knew this track was hard for us but then in practice we found a good performance, therefore our expectations for the race was better than this. Let’s see in Valencia, I think that the work we are doing is positive and will take us to the point where we deserve to be.”
Pol Espargaro crossed the line in ninth despite having to race with severe pain in his neck after a crash in Warm Up caused by Hector Barbera. The Spaniard had to be assessed moments before lining up on the grid, but was passed fit. Stefan Bradl completed the top ten, his best result since he made his debut for the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini at Indianapolis.
EG 0,0 Marc VDS’s Scott Redding was eleventh, ahead of Octo Pramac Racing ‘s Yonny Hernandez in 12th. Avintia Racing’s Hector Barbera took the Open victory despite being forced to start form the back of the grid. The Spaniard had put in his best qualifying performance of the season to start from eighth, but was issued a penalty point for causing the crash with Pol Espargaro in Warm Up which meant, after accruing 4 this season, he had to start from the back of the grid.
LCR Honda rider Jack Miller came home in 17th position in Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix at the Sepang International circuit. Although unable to secure a points finish, the Australian produced a solid ride to ensure he saw the chequered flag at the end of a grueling race that took place in hot and humid conditions. Having started from the sixth row of the grid, Miller battled hard throughout with his rivals in the open category and eventually finished just behind former world champion Nicky Hayden. Whilst not totally satisfied with the result, Miller was happy to see it through to the end and is now looking to sign of his rookie MotoGP season in style at Valencia.
Jack Miller- P17 – “I’m happy to finish the race today. It was very hot which made things harder and it’s always a very difficult race here in Malaysia. Of course we expected and wanted more, but it was not to be today. The team worked really hard all weekend to bring me the best bike possible and we tried hard, but today was not our best and we will learn from this. Now we look forward to Valencia and finishing the season as strongly as possible, both for myself and the team.”
Andrea Iannone – DNF – “I’m really disappointed because for the second time this season I had a problem with the bike at an important moment for me, seeing as I am fighting for fourth place in the championship. Here there was a chance of doing a good race, because this morning in the warm-up the bike was going well. Probably at the start a rider ahead of me threw up a stone which hit and holed the radiator. For sure it’s not an ideal situation to go to Valencia two points down on Pedrosa: it will be tough to fight for fourth place, but that remains my goal and I will try my hardest to achieve it.”
Valentino Rossi leads the MotoGP World Championship with 312 points compared to Lorenzo’s 305, with just the Valencia GP left on the 8th of November.
MotoGP Race Classification
1 – Dani Pedrosa (SPA) HONDA 40’37.691
2- Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) YAMAHA +3.612
3 – Valentino Rossi (ITA) YAMAHA +13.724
Zarco makes it 8 wins for the season
Ajo Motorsport’s 2015 Moto2 World Champion Johann Zarco judged the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix to perfection to win in Sepang and equal the record of Marc Marquez (2012) and Tito Rabat (2014) with 14 podiums in an intermediate season. The Frenchman denied Derendinger Racing Interwetten’s Thomas Luthi his second win of the season on the last lap by just 0.598s, with Jonas Folger on the AGR Team Kalex completing the podium a further nine seconds back.
It was Luthi starting from pole that led the way into turn 1, although Zarco made a move on the Swiss rider at turn 4. Luthi re-took the lead at the end of the first lap at the final corner and then set about creating a gap at the front, with Zarco in hot pursuit.
These two opened up a lead over the rest and Luthi appeared to be managing the gap perfectly, by lap 11 it was up to a second. Zarco fought back to reduce this to 0.5s with 7 laps remaining, but Luthi got the hurry up signal from his pit board and responded, so the gap was back up to a second with 4 laps left.
Just when it looked like Luthi had the race in the bag, Zarco attacked. The gap was down to 0.2s when the two riders crossed the line to start the final lap, as Zarco appeared to have much better edge grip on his tyres. He made his move for the lead at turn 2 and went on to take his 10th career GP victory by over half a second. Luthi’s second place finish was his third podium of the season and saw him leapfrog Jonas Folger into fifth in the standings.
Folger had been involved in a battle for third with Paginas Amarillas HP40’s Alex Rins before the latter crashed out at turn 9 on lap 10, which left Folger with a lonely ride to third for his fourth podium of 2015.
Idemitsu Honda Team Asia’s Takaaki Nakagami made it back-to-back fourth places with Forward Racing’s Lorenzo Baldassarri following up his first podium at Phillip Island with fifth.
Paginas Amarillas Luis Salom came on strong late on in the race to cross the line in sixth, just four-tenths ahead of Sandro Cortese on the Dynavolt Intact GP Kalex in seventh.
Local rider Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia) rode brilliantly from 18th on the grid to finish in eighth, with Simone Corsi (Forward Racing) and Xavier Simeon (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) completing the top ten.
Speed Up Racing’s Sam Lowes was running in 7th when he appeared to have issues, and started dropping down the order like a stone, before recovering towards the end. The Brit eventually crossed the line in 13th.
There were also crashes for Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) and Marcel Schrotter (Tech 3) while EG 0,0 Marc VDS’s Tito Rabat missed the Malaysian GP to allow him to focus on recovering from the broken radius in his left arm.
Moto2 Race Classification
1 – Johann Zarco (FRA) KALEX 40’37.772
2 – Thomas Lüthi (SWI) KALEX + 0.598
3 – Jonas Folger (GER) KALEX + 9.846
Oliveira wins to take title fight to Valencia
Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Oliveira pulled off a sensational last-lap victory at the Shell Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix to ensure that the 2015 Moto3 World Championship battle will go down to the wire. In an incredibly dramatic finish, his title rival Danny Kent ran wide at the last corner and crossed the line in 7th, which means the Brit was denied the title but he will take a 24-point lead into the final round at Valencia. Oliveira’s teammate Brad Binder and Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Jorge Navarro completed the podium.
Starting from third on the gird, Oliveira was involved in an excellent battle at the front between Binder, Navarro, Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold), Romano Fenati (Sky Racing Team VR46), Francesco Bagnaia (Mapfre Team Mahindra) and Jakub Kornfeil (Drive M7 SIC).
Kent on the other hand, after his three-place grid penalty relegated him to ninth at the start, dropped down to 16th in the opening laps and looked to be struggling. Slowly but surely and despite a number of riders crashing in front of him – including his two teammates Hiroki Ono and Efren Vazquez – Kent started to make his way through the field and by lap 9 he was on the back wheel of the seventh placed Antonelli.
As the laps ticked down, the lead swapped hands repeatedly at the front due to the slipstream effect down the two long straights at the Sepang International Circuit. Kent knew he just had to finish in fifth and even if Oliveira won, he would be crowned the first British World Champion Since Barry Sheene won the 500cc title in 1977.
With three laps to go, Bagnaia crashed out and Kent was up to 6th. Then, on the penultimate lap Kent made a move on Antonelli to secure fifth, and at this point the title looked to be his. As the started the final lap, Kent made a move on Fenati at turn 1, but left himself exposed to Antonelli who re-took the vital fifth place. Kent fought back at turn 4, but Antonelli responded at turn 9. It was all going to comedown to the final two straights and the infamous turn 15.
This was the point when Oliveira timed it perfectly to make his move for the race win on his teammate Binder at the very last corner. Would Kent get past Antonelli to become champion? The answer was incredibly no. Kent ran wide at the final corner and eventually crossed the line in seventh, missing out on the title. Now this championship will be decided in Valencia.
Oliveira’s victory was his third in the last 5 races, during which he hasn’t finished lower than second. In the same 5 races, Kent has two sixth placed finishes, one seventh and two DNF’s.
Binder rode superbly to claim his fourth podium of the year, ahead of Navarro who was on the podium for the third time in the last four races. Antonelli made it back-to-back fourth places, while Romano Fenati pulled off his best result since Aragon in fifth.
Kornfeil kept the fans happy by crossing the line in sixth at his team’s home grand prix, with Championship leader Kent missing out on his third chance to the lift the title this season in seventh. It was Kent’s worst finish since he achieved the same result at Brno.
Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Team Moto3) led home the chasing group, over four seconds behind Kent in 8th. SAXOPRINT RTG teammates Alexis Masbou and John McPhee completed the podium.
In the Moto3 standings Kent now has 253 points to Oliveira’s 229, which means Kent needs just two points at Valencia to become champion even if Oliveira wins. For Oliveira to pull off an incredible fight back and lift the title he needs to win and Kent has to be 15th or lower.
There were crashes for local hero Zulfahmi Khairuddin, Manuel Pagliani, Karel Hanika and Darryn Binder.
Fabio Quartararo missed the whole race weekend due to injury and Alessandro Tonucci was declared unfit after a crash in FP2, while Andrea Locatelli withdrew from the weekend after FP1 due to pain from his injured coccyx.
Remy Gardner – P22 – “It’s been a tough race today because my physical condition and my placement in the starting grid. I’ve started the race from 31th place and finished it in 22th. This does not satisfy me because is not enough but taking the circumstances in account, there was not much things to do. Let’s hope to be in a good physical condition for Valencia”.
Moto3 Race Classification
1 – Miguel Oliveira (POR) KTM 40’33.277
2 – Brad Binder (RSA) KTM + 0.089
3 – Jorge Navarro (SPA) HONDA + 0.273